‘They were like a 12th man for us’ - remember Norwich City 4 Middlesbrough 4?
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It was a match few who were there will ever forget – CHRIS LAKEY looks back to a thriller between City and Middlesbrough
January 22, 2005. It was dark-ish by 4.30pm and it was clear a few fans had decided to beat the traffic.
After all, City were trailing 4-1 at home to Middlesbrough so there was nothing to lose. Except a game of football... and one of the greatest comebacks you will ever see at Carrow Road.
Two goals each for Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink and Franck Queudrue had rendered Damien Francis’ 18th-minute opener somewhat worthless. Hasselbaink struck his second in the 78th minute which was the cue for the clattering of seats to begin. To be fair, the stories had been written in the press box too.
Then it began... this from our report on the Monday morning:
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80m, 2-4: The home fans celebrate what looks like a consolation goal as Boro are caught cold by a quick McVeigh free-kick. The City substitute finds Huckerby who delivers a perfect cross which Ashton reaches ahead of Schwarzer with his outstretched boot. The ball runs free and the £3m striker has the simple task of flicking the ball into an unguarded net.
90m, 3-4: Boro look flustered as City pull another goal back with the electronic clock reading 89 minutes and 3 seconds. Huckerby is once again the provider with a wonderful cross from the left which has just enough on it to elude Southgate and find the head of McKenzie, who makes no mistake from some eight yards out.
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90+2m, 4-4: The mother of all comebacks is complete when Drury pops up unmarked to head home a corner from, you’ve guessed it, Huckerby. Moments earlier a curling free-kick from Ashton had been deflected just wide by the head of a Boro defender. The crowd go wild – and the ones who left early are left to reflect on the error of their ways.
Ashton – on his home debut – McKenzie and Drury will always get the plaudits, but there’s a recurring theme on the goals – Darren Huckerby created all four.
Here’s what some of the main players said about it...
“I didn’t have much time to think about it. I was just concerned with making contact and when I saw it go in I was absolutely delighted. I don’t normally go forward for corners and things so it made a nice change. Hopefully that’s given me a chance to go forward for a few more now. When we were 4-1 down heads can drop, but we have a great team spirit.
“We kept battling, the crowd got behind us and we went on from there.”
“It was incredible support. They were singing we were going to win 5-4 and stuff like that.
“Then we got the second goal and things changed. You could see things change. There was a real feeling among the lads that we could nick something here.
“We could see their confidence, the little swagger, them knocking it around, had gone. They got a bit edgy. Yes, it was a fairytale finish.
“We just never gave up. We didn’t look like a team despondent and feeling sorry for ourselves. The crowd certainly weren’t – they were making more noise at 4-1 down than they were at 1-0.
“I can’t stress it enough, they were tremendous. At 4-1 it would have been easy to start jeering and walking out and then you might have been looking at four, five or six goals even.
“But they kept behind us, kept singing, kept pushing us and it got its result. They deserved it as much as we did.
“I don’t think many other clubs would have had their fans cheering them on like that when they were 4-1 down.
“They were like a 12th man for us and with their help we have made a magnificent comeback. The one thing we have got at the club, which was very clear, is spirit.
“I’m sure Steve McClaren would have expected his side to see the game out. I would certainly have expected that if I was in the same position.”
“I see Hucks as more of a creative player, he’s not an out and out goal scorer. I see him as setting up people and that’s exactly what he did today. With the right service, which at times has let us down, we will score goals, as simple as that.”
“I don’t think I will ever forget that game for as long as I live. I was a little bit disappointed with the way we conceded the goals – and I was at fault for one of them. But it was great to get off the mark – and even better that it helped us to come away with a point.
“I honestly can’t explain what happened. You get one goal, then another and then you just hope that something drops for you in the box.
“I’ll never forget the celebrations after Adam’s goal. I was right in amongst it. You’ve got to enjoy moments like that when you play football.”
Norwich: Green, Edworthy, Doherty, Fleming, Drury, Jonson (McVeigh 60), Mulryne (Holt 64), Francis, Brennan (McKenzie 59), Huckerby, Ashton. Subs not used: Gallacher, Jarvis.
Goals: Francis 18, Ashton 80, Drury 90, McKenzie 90.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, McMahon, Reiziger, Southgate, Queudrue, Parlour, Doriva (Morrison 45), Zenden, Downing, Job (Graham 74), Hasselbaink. Subs not used: Nemeth, Nash, Cooper.
Goals: Hasselbaink 34, Queudrue 49, 55, Hasselbaink 78.
Ref: M Messias (S Yorkshire).