Norwich City’s promotion winners are heroes to me
There was a debate in the letter’s pages of the Evening News and our sister paper the EDP recently following Norwich City’s crucial last-gasp 3-2 win against Derby County.
One writer had taken a particular dislike to Canadian striker Simeon Jackson being described as “a hero” by headline writers for his hat-trick that afternoon.
The writer claimed that all too often the media put such over-the-top labels on players, when in reality they were anything but.
A true hero, he argued, was someone prepared to put their lives on the line and fight for their country, not feted for simply being able to stick a ball into a net between two posts.
It was an interesting debate, and one worth developing at a time when Norwich City are about to enter a league where arguably the players are worshipped to a level unlike anywhere else in the world.
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And as far as I am concerned there is no better word than “hero” to describe those backroom staff and players who have been so instrumental in this season’s success.
By saying that I am not, in any way, disrespecting or diminishing the efforts of those who serve our country. They deserve to be regarded as heroes more than anyone else.
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But it is not a term that needs to be used exclusively.
If, according to the English dictionary, a hero is someone “of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities” who “in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal”, then there is simply no better word to use.
Granted the football arena has not necessitated any truly “brave deeds” but there has been plenty of “distinguished courage” and “noble qualities” on show this season within the Canaries squad.
But in many respects it is the consequences of the players’ achievements that, for me, have made them so heroic.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that the last few weeks have been dominated by all things green and yellow.
Promotion seems to have taken over much of my current life – in a completely good way of course.
And that is the true beauty of football. Because I can guarantee you that during the last two weeks there have been many people who have been helped through a tough time, be it at work or at home, by what has been achieved by the club.
How many of us have, since the promotion clincher against Portsmouth, felt cheered by thoughts of what the club has achieved and the prospect of Premier league football?
And that sense of joy truly came out before, during and after last weekend’s game against Coventry.
Hand on heart I don’t think I have ever enjoyed the match day experience quite as much as against Coventry.
The result barely mattered as this was a day all about celebration.
As the fans toasted success in pubs before the game, shared with the players’ joy and delight during and immediately after the match and then drank to promotion in the bars around the ground for the rest of the night it felt like so much of the city has been united and lifted by the experience.
Even those without an interest in the sport cannot claim to have missed the fact that a brighter mood has engulfed the city.
And that is why, in my eyes at least, these boys will always be heroes for what they have achieved.
• FIVE OF THE REST
1. I’m not sure there’s such a thing these days as an “unsung hero”. With so many fan websites, blogs, message boards and Twitter accounts you can pretty much guarantee that everyone has been “sung” somewhere. However, until recently, current assistant manager Ian Culverhouse must come pretty close. He’s been ever present during arguably the two most successful periods in the club’s history. He played nearly 300 games at right-back between 1985 and 1994 and has now returned to be a big part of, what I feel, is an achievement almost on a par with our European exploits, when you consider where we were and where we now are. So pleased to see Lambert was quick to praise him after the Portsmouth game.
2. There is one Premier League player, not exactly gifted with the quickest turn of pace, who has built up an excellent reputation and gained an England cap who I feel provides some evidence that Grant Holt could prove his doubters wrong in the Premier League. That player is Kevin Davies. Recent stats show that while he has committed the most fouls in the league and is one of the most fouled (sound familiar?), he also created a higher percentage of his team’s chances than any other player in the league (23per cent). And his Bolton Premier League scoring rate of a goal every 4.5 games is better than most people give him credit for.
3. No matter how talented we know they are, Lambert is going to have to ensure his players develop thick skins over the next few months as they, undoubtedly, get written off in all quarters. Take The Sun newspaper last week, just two days after Norwich had gained promotion. Already its betting columnist Andy Totham was writing off the club’s chances under the headline “It will be Lamb to the slaughter”. Meanwhile, under the title “Donut of the Day”, he wrote “Grant Holt to be top Prem scorer next season – and then wake up.” The only thing for Lambert to do is use it as a tool for motivation.
4. Top marks to the wit who came up with the “it could’ve been you” Sammy Clingan song. Personally it left me feeling a bit sad though. I thought he had an absolutely excellent game and would be a really good buy to strengthen our midfield and provide competition to David Fox. Can’t see it happening now though.
5. It will be interesting to see (although perhaps we may never find out) if there are any implications of the board members boasting about how we intend to spend �40m on players and wages at Sunday’s end of season do. We saw in January how Peterborough so easily changed their demands over Craig Mackail-Smith and I just hope other teams don’t start upping their asking prices now they know we have money to burn.