Huckerby’s legend status looks assured
DAVID CUFFLEY Darren Huckerby's special place in Norwich City history was already secure before his current dazzling run of form. Nine goals since the New Year, 12 for the season, 42 in all for the Canaries, and the 100th Football League goal of his career against Stoke .
Darren Huckerby's special place in Norwich City history was already secure before his current dazzling run of form.
Nine goals since the New Year, 12 for the season, 42 in all for the Canaries, and the 100th Football League goal of his career against Stoke . . . the 30-year-old has looked as dangerous as ever during the sequence of four wins in six matches that finally dispelled any nagging fear of relegation from the Championship for Peter Grant and his men.
Huckerby spoke at Colney this week of his dearest wish - that supporters would remember his contribution in 10 years' time. As if there was ever any doubt about it.
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“I want to leave a legacy. I want to be remembered as one of the best players to have played for Norwich City, simple as that,” he said.
“I want to be remembered as one of the most exciting players to play for Norwich City.
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“If I can finish and 10 years down the line people say, 'Oh, can you remember when Darren Huckerby used to beat three or four players, game in, game out?' I will be happy.”
And, just in case anyone thought he was being immodest, he darted back after his interview to stress: “Don't go saying I've said I'm the best player who ever played for the club or anything like that.”
At the moment, no one would particularly mind if he did.
He will be forgiven if he can continue to produce the kind of goals we've seen against Leeds, Blackpool, Barnsley, Birmingham and Stoke, backed up by some scintillating displays.
At least he didn't use the word “legend” - an over-used term in football and one that never sounds quite right until the player concerned has been retired at least 10 years, and probably longer.
But by that time, Huckerby will be as likely to be referred to as “legendary” as any City player of the modern era.
He is already one of 110 names included in the club's Hall of Fame. It's a tremendous list of names, though one or two inclusions are perhaps generous and there are, arguably, some odd omissions.
Nine winners of the Player of the Year award are missing, including current skipper Adam Drury, the one Norwich player in 105 years to have been presented with that wonderful old Football League trophy.
Four members of the 1971-72 Division Two title-winning side have so far been overlooked, as have four of the Milk Cup-winning side. Neither does the list include the first man to score a goal for the club in Europe, nor the man whose two goals gave the Canaries one of their most remarkable FA Cup win of all, 2-1 at Arsenal in 1954.
But what constitutes a legend?
The dictionary does not seem to acknowledge that there is a sporting context for the word, concentrating more on the hero of a popular story that may or may not have historical validity.
There is no doubt that the careers and achievements of men like Kevin Keelan, Ron Ashman and Dave Stringer make them legendary figures in City history, but at times the term is harder to define.
Joe Hannah walking home from Norwich to Sheringham to punish himself for a poor performance? That's the stuff of legend.
Ken Nethercott playing on with a dislocated right shoulder, Duncan Forbes with a punctured lung or blood streaming down his shirt, Terry Bly shooting down Manchester United and Tottenham, Trevor Hockey with his caveman appearance and trademark headband, Iwan Roberts baring his teeth in goal celebration - these, too, are the stuff of legend.
And yes, for scoring goals that might be considered far-fetched in a comic strip - taking the ball three quarters of the length of the pitch past four players before rattling it into the back of the net - Darren Huckerby will surely be remembered as something of a legend in these parts.
Even if he stopped short of using the word himself.
t PULIS BARKING UP WRONG TREE
There were red faces, one hopes, on Thursday for Stoke City manager Tony Pulis and defender Andy Griffin after their appeal against the red card shown to the full-back at Carrow Road last week was thrown out by an FA disciplinary commission.
Pulis was scathing in his condemnation of City midfielder Youssef Safri, who he claimed had made a meal out of Griffin's ugly challenge, which came in the closing stages of the Potters' dismal 1-0 defeat.
Claiming wrongful dismissal, Griffin, on loan from Portsmouth, argued that it was a 50-50 ball and a “tough, old-fashioned tackle” - the same, perhaps, as the one that put City's Lee Croft out of action for six weeks earlier in the season.
Safri was adamant it was a “bad tackle, a silly tackle”, that he had not over-reacted and that he needed ice treatment after the game, and he was vindicated by the FA's verdict.
Griffin now starts a three-match ban and will have to sit out games against Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace.
Perhaps the FA should have added an extra couple of games for wasting their time.