Doherty determined to win it for fans
CHRIS WISE Gary Doherty is desperate to reward Norwich City's loyal band of travelling supporters with a long overdue victory at Cardiff this afternoon. The Canaries have taken an average of around 1500 fans with them to every game this season, despite the fact that positive results have been distinctly thin on the ground.
Gary Doherty is desperate to reward Norwich City's loyal band of travelling supporters with a long overdue victory at Cardiff this afternoon.
The Canaries have taken an average of around 1500 fans with them to every game this season, despite the fact that positive results have been distinctly thin on the ground.
Since the turn of the year Nigel Worthington's side have failed to win any of their eight away fixtures, with a meagre return of just three points from a possible 24 neatly summing up a bitterly disappointing campaign.
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The fans at Carrow Road may have become distinct edgy in recent months, despite a run of six straight home wins, but the travelling army have clearly had a lot more to complain about - and it amazes Doherty that they continue to travel in such large numbers.
Over 600 die-hards will be in attendance for the final swansong at Ninian Park today, and the Republic of Ireland international wants a win for them almost as much as he wants a win for his team.
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“We haven't won away from home since the turn of the year and that has been very disappointing,” he said.
“We have got one last chance to put that right and we are determined to take it.
“It's going to be a difficult game because they are a half decent home side and they gave us a real test at our place earlier in the season. But we will be going there in a positive frame of mind and I'm sure we can come away with something.
“I have got to say the away fans have been excellent - and we will be looking to give them something to cheer. They have been fantastic for us.
“Obviously it has been difficult for them because we have been terrible away from home - there have been far too many bad performances, bad results.
“But they haven't lost faith - they have turned up in good numbers time and time again. The away end always seems to be full, which is good to see. I really appreciate that and I know all the other players do too.
“We owe them big time, I know that, and hopefully we can give them something to smile about at Ninian Park. No-one deserves a win more than them, that's for sure.”
The fans who have travelled the length and breadth of the country to support their side haven't been slow to make their feelings known at times this season - and with good reason. They have witnessed 13 defeats, and some truly awful performances, over the course of the campaign and 'Worthy Out' chants have been heard on occasions.
But, as Doherty was quick to acknowledge. they have been remarkably tolerant of their side's failings. It has been a rather different story at Carrow Road since the turn of the year, with angry chants, biting sarcasm and an extremely tense atmosphere the order of the day - and after a difficult afternoon against QPR last Monday the Canaries will probably be grateful for the dubious sanctuary of Ninian Park today.
Asked if he was enjoying the away games more than home ones at present, the big defender commented: “There are two ways of looking at that one. Our home results have been really good recently and that gives you a lot of confidence. But, on the other hand, it's not easy playing at Carrow Road at the moment because of the strange atmosphere.
“There are some fans who really want us to win but there are obviously some who want us to lose for their own reasons, which is disappointing. It's difficult for a player when you are being booed by your own fans, or they shout 'hoof' when you play it long.
“There is not much you can say about it really - you have just got to knuckle down, keep really focussed on the game. If we do that, and keep picking up the results, then hopefully the fans will pick up on that.
“That's what will be trying to do against Cardiff and Wolves. If we can win those two then hopefully we can all push forward together next season and they will be back on our side.
“It was tough on Monday, of course it was, but we came through it and ended up winning the game. I think that's six home wins on the bounce now.
“Even with the pressure we have been under it's not our home results that are costing us it's the away ones - and that is something we will have to put right if we are to be successful.”
If City managed to break their away hoodoo today, and results at Wolves and Luton went their way, they would go into their final game of the season on Sunday week in seventh position - and Doherty has got that consolation prize firmly in his sights, even though he accepts it won't make up for what has gone before.
“It has been a very disappointing season and we have just got to make sure we finish it on a high,” he said. “We have got a very good chance of finishing in seventh position and that is what we will be aiming for now.
“If we can beat Cardiff and Wolves we can draw a line under this season and it will give us a bit for confidence for the summer. We can start afresh when we come back and I'm sure we will make a really strong challenge next season.”
Doherty goes into today's match with the player of the season award within is grasp after turning one consistent performance after another over the course of a poor campaign for his team. He is satisfied with the way things have gone from a personal point of view and already has his sights set on keeping up the good work next season.
“My main objective during the summer was to try and get a regular place in the side so I am satisfied with the way it has gone for me,” he said. “I have played 40 odd games on the bounce now which is the best run I can remember since I turned pro and, touch wood, that will continue.
“I did a lot of work on my fitness last summer and I like to think I have got my reward for that. I'll be doing the same this summer, rest assured of that, and the aim is to come back even fitter and stronger for next season.”