Reaction mystifies Huckerby
CHRIS WISE Darren Huckerby has seen most things football has to offer in a career fast approaching its 13th anniversary, but even his personal collector's item - a headed goal - was overshadowed yesterday as he witnessed disgruntled Norwich City fans cheering a goal by their opponents.
Darren Huckerby has seen most things football has to offer in a career fast approaching its 13th anniversary, but even his personal collector's item - a headed goal - was overshadowed yesterday as he witnessed disgruntled Norwich City fans cheering a goal by their opponents.
Plenty of City fans had been itching for a verbal spat and the pressure that had been building throughout a moribund first half finally grew too much when QPR went 2-0 up just past the hour mark.
It signalled a heavy-duty reaction from a crowd who had been witness to one of the most turgid displays at Carrow Road this season, alleviated only by a stunning fightback engineered by Huckerby himself.
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But the crowd favourite was still left scratching his head afterwards as he summed up a game which was almost a microcosm of City's season.
“I can understand why the fans were upset, but surely they can vent their frustration better than cheering when they score,” he said.
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“This is a good club, it's one of the best clubs I have played at, but I don't know if that's right. I have been at a lot of good clubs, but that's probably the only time I have ever been to a club where the fans have started cheering when the other team scores. I have been at some big, big clubs, but I have never seen that before.”
It's not the first time this season that City's fans have made their feelings known, and, while Huckerby has consistently agreed with their undisputed right to do so, he also positioned himself firmly alongside under-fire manager Nigel Worthington who felt the full force of their anger yesterday.
“It's not great and everyone has their own opinion, but I think it has shown that we never give up, even when things are against us, and that's probably a bit like the gaffer as well,” said Huckerby. “Things are going against him but he is a fighter and we will continue trying to win games.”
Huckerby has an important role, not just as one of Worthington's most valuable players but also as one of his most senior members of staff - and with that comes a right to dissect, for the delectation of the media, just what has happened at Norwich City this season.
“We will look at it as maybe a chance lost,” he said. “It tried to say when we won the league that everything fell into place perfectly that year and it is not that easy every year.
“The fans thought this year that Dean Ashton would score 30 goals, that Leon would score 20, that I'd pop up with 15 and it'd be job done, but things don't work like that.
“Ash went halfway through the season, Leon has been injured for the whole season and we've had to bring other people in, that's no excuse, because we haven't played as well as we can do. But people thought it was going to be too easy - they have to get in the real world and realise that we are playing against people week in week out and this is their job, they take it very seriously - next season we have got to be 50pc better than this season, no doubt.”
Among those imponderables there has been one certainty - that Huckerby will be ploughing his furrow along the left flank. What is not in the script is that Huckerby will use his aerial ability to score a headed goal like it did yesterday.
No one will be surprised to hear that it may not have been his cleanest header.
“I think it might have been a header-shoulder to be honest,” he laughed. “I just saw the ball in the air and just flicked it and it found its way in. I don't mind as long as it's a goal. I think it pushed us in the right direction, it kind of changed the mood of things and we got a bit more confidence.”
A Huckerby header may always be greeted with cheers from the crowd, but his response is simple.
“I have actually scored six or seven in my career before, the last I think was at Manchester City. It's not my strength, I've been the first to admit that. But people can't do what I can do with the ball. I can't head it as well as Jason Shackell, but he can't do what I can do with the ball so we'll leave it like that.”