Holt on course for Christmas cracker

David Cuffley Skipper Grant Holt is close to becoming the first Norwich City player for more than 40 years to score 20 goals in a season before Christmas.Holt's double in the 3-0 League One victory at Southend on Tuesday night took his tally to 18 in all competitions this season.

David Cuffley

Skipper Grant Holt is close to becoming the first Norwich City player for more than 40 years to score 20 goals in a season before Christmas.

Holt's double in the 3-0 League One victory at Southend on Tuesday night took his tally to 18 in all competitions this season.

With three league matches and a Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie to go before Christmas, the 28-year-old could become the first Canary since Hugh Curran in 1968-69 to hit the 20 mark before tucking into the turkey.


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Curran's remarkable first half of the season brought him 21 goals by December 4, 1968, including a hat-trick in a League Cup win at Ipswich.

But after one more goal in the New Year, the free-scoring Scot was sold to Wolves for �60,000. He remains the only post-war City player to reach 20 goals before Christmas.

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The last man to come close was Ted MacDougall, who had 19 in the bag by mid-December 1975 - 15 of them by the end of September - and finished the season with 28 in all competitions.

Even 30-plus marksmen such as Ralph Hunt, Ron Davies and Terry Allcock did not reach the 20 mark by Christmas, though Holt is, admittedly, playing at a lower level than some of City's most successful strikers.

One of the most remarkable achievements was Terry Bly's 29 goals in season 1958-59. The FA Cup giant-killer played only two matches before Christmas and did not score his first goal until January 3.

Holt has yet to appear for City in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but even if he does not play in the area semi-final at Southampton, he has league games against Oldham, Yeovil and Huddersfield in which to match Curran's feat.

And at his current rate of progress, even Allcock's club record of 37 goals in all competitions in 1962-63 may not be safe.

Holt, meanwhile, believes third-placed City are now in a position to challenge leading pair Leeds and Charlton in League One and push for automatic promotion.

He said: “We're in a position where we wanted to be at the start of the season, we're there or thereabouts.

“We're on good form, myself personally and the team and we're in a position now where we can attack the top two.

“We know what we've got. We've got a good team that's strong at the back, a good midfield that works hard and lads in the team that are going to score goals.

“It's fantastic to be getting the goals I'm scoring at the moment and that's a tribute to the team that I've got right behind me.”

The arrival of Russell Martin and Anthony McNamee on loan was another boost, said Holt.

“The manager has brought in two great signings to give us more depth, which is fantastic for the club. It puts more pressure on the players who are in the side to stay in it.

“I think with the squad and the depth we've got we've got a chance of being up there at the end.

“I don't think the manager brings anyone into this football club who he doesn't feel will do the squad justice. I've seen them in training this week and they look really sharp and bright and Russell I thought was fantastic for his first game.

“Matthew Gill has come back this week in training, so the depth we've got is fantastic and it puts the lads on their toes to keep performing week in and week out.”

City's 20-plus marksmen

(post-war, all competitions, goals before Christmas Day in brackets)

1998-99: Iwan Roberts 23 (15)

1993-94: Chris Sutton 28 (10)

1986-87: Kevin Drinkell 21 (10)

1985-86: Kevin Drinkell 24 (12)

1982-83: John Deehan 21 (11)

1980-81: Justin Fashanu 22 (15)

1975-76: Ted MacDougall 28 (19)

1974-75: Ted MacDougall 24 (13)

1968-69: Hugh Curran 22 (21)

1965-66: Ron Davies 21 (10)

1964-65: Gordon Bolland 20 (17)

1963-64: Ron Davies 30 (17)

1962-63: Terry Allcock 37 (15)

1961-62: Terry Allcock 21 (9)

1958-59: Terry Bly 29 (0)

Terry Allcock 20 (9)

1957-58: Johnny Gavin 22 (16)

1956-57: Ralph Hunt 21 (12)

1955-56: Ralph Hunt 33 (18)

1952-53: Alf Ackerman 22 (11)

Johnny Gavin 20 (8)

1951-52: Roy Hollis 22 (13)

Johnny Gavin 20 (7)

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