Hugh Curran: Grant Holt won’t forget Norwich City derby hat-trick

Grant Holt will treasure his East Anglian derby hat-trick for as long as he lives – according to the last Norwich City striker to record the feat, Hugh Curran.

Widely regarded as the high point of the former Scottish international’s City career, Curran – now 67 – hit a hat-trick in the 4-2 second round win at Portman Road in the 1968-69 season, to send Ipswich Town crashing out of the League Cup.

And on Sunday – little more than 42 years later – current City skipper Holt repeated the trick to earn the Canaries an exhilarating 4-1 win over their arch enemies in the Championship.

“Oh yes, that will stay with him,” said City Hall of Famer Curran, who scored 53 goals in 124 senior appearances between 1966 and 1969. “He won’t forget that day, especially against Ipswich.

“I remember going to Norwich for the Hall of Fame event and there were a few questions. They asked me what was my best moment, and that was it – beating Ipswich and scoring a hat-trick against them. You can’t get any better than that,” added Curran, pictured left in his playing days.

“At Norwich you were a hero. You would go into shops and be recognised, anything you bought you got for half the price. If you wanted to buy a car they’d take a few hundred quid off it. If you wanted tyres on your car, they couldn’t do enough for you.

“That hat-trick was the best moment at the time, and it stands out. The next best thing was probably getting a Scotland cap.”

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That in itself is some statement for a player who figured in a Uefa Cup final with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Curran, who now lives near Oxford, was sold to Wanderers by City in mid-January 1969 having already scored 22 goals.

But the Scot – who hit a record five goals in his Norwich career against Town – still carries fond memories of his midweek trip to Suffolk on September 3, 1968.

“At the time it was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me, purely for the reasons of them being a first division club and the local rivalry between us,” said Curran.

“It was a lovely trip, I must admit. I think prior to that game we had played Crystal Palace and got beaten, so by the time we played Ipswich we had made quite a few changes, and we hammered them.

“I scored a hat-trick, Charlie Crickmore scored one. We had all the board of directors on the bus and Danny Blanchflower, who was working for Anglian Television and his television crew, were there all the way there and all the way back, and they were taking photographs.

“Ipswich had just been promoted to the First Division and we beat them in the League Cup, so with us in the Second Division, that was double the glory so to speak.”

While a repeat of Curran’s achievement was more than welcomed by City fans, they will probably hope the same is not said for its consequences.

“Looking back on it, Bill McGarry was Ipswich manager at the time and had taken them up, and he then moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers, and I was his first signing when he got to Wolves – and it might have been from that hat-trick,” laughed Curran.

“I always look for Norwich’s results, and any team I played with, but it’s going absolutely brilliant down there at the moment.

“It was great to get back into the Championship after only a season and I hope Paul Lambert can keep it up. Fingers crossed.”