Holding out for a Norwich City hero to match Wembley wonders
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Devouring the enjoyable look back on Norwich City’s League Cup Final defeat to Spurs 40 years ago, as featured in Monday’s Evening News, two thoughts sprung to my mind.
The first was a feeling of intense jealousy towards those lucky enough to have been there when Norwich City ran out at Wembley Stadium for a domestic final – that’s one lifetime ambition I’m yet to fulfil.
Although, having just become a Dad for the first time, I’m now prepared to wait for a few more years, in hope that the young lad will be able to enjoy the occasion with me (should he decide to follow the Canaries of course) and be spared of a similarly long wait.
The second was just how many of that 12-man squad enjoyed a long-lasting career at Carrow Road.
The list of appearances they went on to make for the Canaries reads as follows; Kevin Keelan (673), Clive Payne (150), Geoff Butler (196), Dave Stringer (499), Duncan Forbes (357), Max Briggs (170), Doug Livermore (139), David Cross (106), Jim Blair (11), Graham Paddon (340), Terry Anderson (279) and Trevor Howard (156).
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I’ll save you some maths. Staggeringly, 11 of the 12 played more than 100 games for the club, five more than 200 and four over 300.
Forty years on these are statistics we rarely see involving modern day players.
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Of the current Norwich squad only Grant Holt (158), Wes Hoolahan (186), Russell Martin (137) and Chris Martin (117 but pretty much on his way out of the club) are part of the 100 club. Simon Lappin (126) would have made that list, until recently moving to Cardiff.
Meanwhile, in order to complete a list of the most recent six players to appear more than 200 times for Norwich you have to go way back to the 2006/07 season.
The six are as follows; Adam Drury (361 appearances), Gary Doherty (227), Paul McVeigh (246), Darren Huckerby (203), Darel Russell (271) and Craig Fleming (382).
There are a few reasons for this sea change. Clearly the football landscape has changed immeasurably in the past 40 years.
Players simply move around more, the Bosman Ruling made it easier for them to change from one club to another, while I’m pretty sure the influx of agents in the game – in the ear of players telling them how much money they can make by going elsewhere – has also had a big impact.
Could it also be partly down to changes in society as a whole, with families less likely to tie themselves down to one particular area?
Meanwhile, Norwich’s own situation is made worse by several big clear-outs within the club during some of our recent poor seasons.
There was, after all, one particular manager who seemed hell-bent on putting out Norwich’s first-ever 11 made up solely of other teams’ players on loan at the club.
I’m sure you don’t need reminding as to whom I refer.
The figures left me wondering how much of an impact longevity has on the view fans have of individual players.
Are players more likely to be hero-worshipped by fans if they have made 200 or so solid but unspectacular appearances for the club, than one who has played brilliantly for a few dozen games then moved on?
I would argue you are.
Players like Drury, Fleming, McVeigh and Huckerby will live much longer in the memory than the likes of Steve Morison, Zak Whitbread and Elliott Ward.
This is despite the fact the latter trio played a major part in arguably one of the most successful season’s in Norwich City’s history – before moving on to pastures new.
At this moment in time it feels like City supporters (whether knowingly or not) are desperate for the next tranche of heroes to come forward.
Players who they believe feel for the club in the same way they do and have repeatedly put in their all for the cause.
Is this one of the reasons the arrival of Kei Kamara has garnered so much passion – supporters so, so want somebody new to hero worship?
Yes we have Holt, Russell Martin and Hoolahan, but three players, in a squad of more than 25, does not point to a particularly settled squad – or one that fans are able to build up much of a bond with.
So who then out of the current squad has what it takes to join the ranks of Canaries’ many other bona fide legends?
Will Norwich City’s next hero please step forward.
• My memories of games against Southampton seem to consist largely of entertaining goalfests. Recently there was the 4-3 defeat at The Dell in April 2005, but the game that really sticks in my mind is the 5-4 defeat at Carrow Road 11 years earlier. We may have lost both but the earlier match sticks in my mind as one of the best I have been fortunate enough to witness. Let’s hope for similar levels of entertainment on Saturday (but a Norwich win of course) because, bar the last 15 against Everton, there hasn’t been much on show in the past three home games.
• I’ve said it before and stand by it now we are here – the next four games will be the ones that define our season. Southampton, followed by Sunderland and Wigan away and Swansea at home. The aim should be at least six points, seven if we are being optimistic, which would take us to 38 points – the figure I believe will still be enough to ensure safety. We’d then have six games to really enjoy ourselves!
• Remember that song ‘it could have been you’ we all enjoyed directing towards Sammy Clingan when he returned to Carrow Road as a Coventry player during our promotion season? For some reason that same tune was in my head watching last week’s Capital One Cup Final between Swansea and Bradford.
Norwich versus Swansea could have been a fantastic final and it’s such a shame we didn’t get to enjoy it. Arguably The Swans, until recently very much City’s equals, have now replaced Stoke (and Charlton if you go back a long time ago) as the club whose progress we should aspire to mimic.
• The most bizarre thing about the whole standing saga prior to the Everton game was that there wasn’t really any real difference. Just like games earlier in the season, a few requests were made by stewards to certain sections of the ground early on in the match, before it all fizzled out. Seems to me the club has adhered to some higher up order by issuing the required warning and we can all now happily move on.