Roll up for the end of the year show

DAVID CUFFLEY According to Norwich City's official website, Darren Huckerby scooped nearly every prize on offer at the player of the season awards dinner at Carrow Road on Monday night.


According to Norwich City's official website, Darren Huckerby scooped nearly every prize on offer at the player of the season awards dinner at Carrow Road on Monday night.

Top honour, of course, was the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy for player of the year, which he first received before the final home game against Southampton, but Huckerby also swept the board among the other supporters' groups and, to crown it all, he was presented with the goal of the season award in front of 400 guests.

Only 18-year-old Chris Martin denied him a clear run at goal by being named young player of the year, a feat beyond even the jet-heeled Huckerby since he is now 31.

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There may have been a few categories that didn't get covered by the official bash, however, so to tie up those loose ends here are the Pink 'Un alternative awards for 2006-07.

t Best performance: Having missed the 5-1 home win over Barnsley, the two victories over promoted Birmingham must take top billing. The 1-0 win at St Andrew's in Peter Grant's first match in charge just gets the vote, in spite of the scruffy winning goal. It was Birmingham's first home defeat and Steve Bruce appeared to fear for his future. How quickly things change.

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t Worst performance: No shortage of candidates here, but given the distance fans had to travel, the standard of the opposition and the sheer awfulness of the performance, it has to be the 3-1 defeat at Plymouth, which truly plumbed the depths. It must have been bad for Nigel Worthington's most staunch allies to issue that statement. But the 3-1 defeat at Ipswich and the 3-0 reverse at Colchester under his successor ran it very close.

t Most entertaining game: The 3-3 draw at Queen's Park Rangers, Martin Hunter's only game in charge, just about pips the 3-2 win at Luton and the 3-3 draw at Southend.

t Best goal scored: Huckerby, Robert Earnshaw and Dickson Etuhu hog this category, but while Huckerby's brilliant solo goal at home to Birmingham took the official award, it was assisted by some lame duck defending. I would go for the spectacular first of Huckerby's two goals in the FA Cup fourth round replay at home to Blackpool - a real out-of-your-seat moment.

t Worst goal conceded: Kenwyne Jones' free header from a corner at Southampton was the softest, Chris Iwelumo cashing in on Andy Hughes' backheader at Colchester was grim . . . but for a real comedy of errors, Drew Talbot's goal for Luton at Kenilworth Road beats the lot.

t Most vital goal: Simon Lappin's winner at Luton was hugely significant, but Dion Dublin's equaliser in the 2-1 home win over Leeds just shades it. City were staring into the abyss at half-time after one win in nine matches but Dublin, captain for the day, provided the inspiration for a rousing fightback.

t Save of the season: Paul Gallacher's flying effort from Matthew Spring at Luton and Tony Warner's big hand clawing away Patrick Kisnorbo's header at Leicester were both memorable. But I go for David Marshall's stoppage-time flick from under the bar to keep out Kaspar Gorkss' header at Blackpool in the FA Cup.

t Worst refereeing performance: Perhaps Grant should have been asked to judge this category. But Lee Probert's Carrow Road debut against Derby left much to be desired and the decision over Chris Martin's disallowed goal cost City the game.

t Signing of the season: Not too difficult, this one. Considering the scepticism, even ridicule, that greeted Dublin's arrival in September, the man has been a revelation. Against Southampton last week the 38-year-old stood out like a lighthouse in a sea of mediocrity. Worthington's last signing was one of his best. Simon Lappin has looked the best of Grant's new recruits, though on-loan goalkeepers Marshall and Warner have performed steadily.

t Best opponents: An odd choice, perhaps, but taken purely over two games against City, I'd go for Colchester. They were a big handful at Carrow Road and totally dominant at Layer Road. Of the promotion contenders, West Brom looked the best, despite losing to City at The Hawthorns.

t Worst opponents: It's hard to believe Hull are better than Leeds, Southend and Luton. They were dire against City in both matches, but then so were Wolves, and look at the table at the moment.

t Best visiting fans: No contest. Blackpool supporters were tremendous, given the distance, the result and the fact that it was a February midweek game. They will be hoping to return to Carrow Road next season.

t Worst visiting fans: Birmingham - what a dismal turn-out for a team in the promotion places. Bruce was moved to salute Norwich's amazing support. Perhaps the cauldron of noise brought home just how poor his own fans were on the night.

t Four-minute award: The stoppage-time spoilsports who cost the Canaries 10 points can share this one. Step forward Mark Gower, Shefqi Kuqi, Martin Rowlands, Michael Turner, Jody Craddock and Diomansy Kamara. At least Lappin's goal at Luton redressed the balance slightly.

t Best footwear: Blue boots were popular this season, but Huckerby and Lee Croft were brave to wear them against Ipswich.

t Best hairdo: Robert Eagle had wolf whistles at one or two grounds before finally visiting what we used to call the barber's, but Paul McVeigh wins for sporting many styles, including the Norman Bates's mother look.

t Quote of the season: “We are determined to achieve success at Norwich City, and to that end we expect this situation to be rectified at our next home game on Sunday and at our next away game. We rely on our manager and squad to do this not only on behalf of our supporters but for the long-term future of the club” - Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones signal the beginning of the end for Worthington after 3-1 defeat at Home Park against Plymouth Argyle back at the start of the season.

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