Jarvis plotting Norwich City’s downfall in Senior Cup

He spent years following his sons’ rise into Norwich City’s first team – but tonight Fakenham assistant manager Neil Jarvis will aim to make the Canaries’ return to the Norfolk Senior Cup a brief one.

Neil saw Ryan and Rossi Jarvis progress through City’s youth ranks, with Ryan the club’s youngest debutant when he appeared against Walsall in 2003, and the brothers playing first team football together for the first time in 2006.

In the end, the Jarvis brothers moved away from Carrow Road as their careers stalled at City – leaving dad Neil to re-ignite the connection with his home club.

Now assistant to Ghosts manager Wayne Anderson, Jarvis will be in the dugout when Norwich’s second string end a two-decade absence from the county’s biggest football competition at Clipbush Park (7.45pm) for their fourth round tie with the Ridgeons League First Division battlers.

And City are set to have a strong squad on show – Anthony McNamee, Oli Johnson, Michael Nelson and Jens Berthel Askou may figure, while Owain Tudur Jones, Luke Daley, Josh Dawkin and goalkeeper Declan Rudd are also in contention.

All of which will add to what promises to be a big occasion for the Ghosts.

“It’s a big game for everyone, but it’s more the occasion of it,” said Jarvis. “It’s lovely for the fans, all the local people, and the players haven’t stopped talking about it. In fact, they’ve all been turning up for training because they all want to get into the team.”

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Jarvis’ connection with Fakenham goes back to 1986 and includes player, reserve boss and caretaker manager roles – as well as Senior Cup triumphs of his own. However, he still sees his main role as looking after the Ghosts’ youth set-up.

And he should know plenty about that, given the progress of his sons.

Ryan Jarvis – 36 City appearances and five goals from 2001 to 2008 – is still only 24, and currently on loan at League Two Northampton from Leyton Orient.

And 22-year-old Rossi – 11 appearances from 2005 to 2007 – is at Barnet, playing alongside on-loan Norwich youngster George Francomb.

Although his Fakenham-born sons’ hopes of a prolonged first team career at City never materialised, dad Neil has no personal axe to grind tonight.

“There is no problem for me; my lads are fine,” said Neil. “The thing with managers is it’s all about opinions. Certainly when Ryan was there he didn’t play enough football. It’s easy with hindsight but I think he should have been sent out on loan rather than sat warming the bench. You look at Chris Martin; he was on-loan at Luton, it looked like he was on the way out under Glenn Roeder but Glenn left and he’s flourished from there.”

Fakenham will have to do it the hard way tonight – with four recognised strikers and seven first team players out injured.

Jarvis added: “Norwich have a lot of quality, they’re going to be far fitter than our lads and with the senior players possibly in there as well, it’s going to make the task even tougher.

“All we can do is give 100 per cent and put in a decent performance, but we are massive underdogs. We’ve got a few youngsters and hopefully they will relax, play without fear and go and enjoy it.

“It’s good for the fans and the players Norwich are back in it, but most clubs see the Senior Cup as a good opportunity to get to a Carrow Road final and if you get Norwich City Reserves in the final year after year, perhaps some of the managers and players will give it a different thought.

“It’s a difficult one – but at the moment it’s all pluses, for the county and everyone involved.”

Norwich City (from): Rudd, Steer, Matthews, Nelson, Askou, Habergham, Gordon, Jones, Stephens, Tudur Jones, Ball, Florence, Clunan, Kellly, Dobbs, Daley, Johnson, Dawkin, McNamee, Oakley.