Russell's goal memories of Huddersfield
David Cuffley Darel Russell has special reason to remember Huddersfield - as the ground where he scored his first Football League goal 11 years ago.The Norwich City midfielder, who was hoping for a recall to the starting line-up today after completing a three-match ban, was just 18 when he earned the Canaries a 1-1 draw against the Terriers in a remarkable game at the McAlpine - now Galpharm - Stadium in 1999.
Darel Russell has special reason to remember Huddersfield - as the ground where he scored his first Football League goal 11 years ago.
The Norwich City midfielder, who was hoping for a recall to the starting line-up today after completing a three-match ban, was just 18 when he earned the Canaries a 1-1 draw against the Terriers in a remarkable game at the McAlpine - now Galpharm - Stadium in 1999.
Russell gave Norwich the lead in only the third minute of the Nationwide League Division One encounter, 11 years ago this month, but most of the headlines went to team-mate Daryl Sutch, the defender who had to play in goal from the seventh minute onwards when keeper Andy Marshall was sent off for a rugby tackle on Marcus Stewart.
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A Chris Llewellyn own goal seven minutes from time cruelly denied Sutch a clean sheet and earned Huddersfield a point.
“I scored in that game - my first league goal under Bruce Rioch,” recalled Russell.
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“It was a fantastic time for me to get my first goal and I remember the game because Sutchy was thrown in between the sticks.
“It's been a few years since I've been back so I'm looking forward to seeing the stadium again.”
The 29-year-old Russell still cannot believe he was sent off by referee Russell Booth in the 2-0 home defeat by Southampton three weeks ago when he was deemed to have made a dangerous challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin. Thankfully, Paul Lambert's team won all three games in his absence and were still four points clear at the top going into today's game.
He said: “I don't really know what you've got to do for a tackle. I don't think it was even a tackle in the sense I was already favourite to win the ball and I was merely guiding it on to Simon Lappin. The lad has run in from behind, right into me, and somehow the referee has decided to send me off.
“We tried to appeal against it and I don't know how it's not been turned over. I spoke to an assessor and he said it shouldn't have been a card at the time, so why something hasn't happened about it I don't know.
“It's extremely disappointing. It cost me in playing time but thank goodness the team has done marvellously in my absence.
“It's detrimental from the point of view that when you're in good form you want to continue what you're doing, so it takes a little bit of your time out, and you maybe lose a little bit of sharpness and fitness. You try to counter that in training and you hope everything comes right when you do get your chance again.
“What's funny about that is we had some people up at the training ground on the Friday before that, some fans who came up, and one of the remarks was 'Why have you been so good this year in not getting sent off?' I don't know whether it jinxed me but I said then I wasn't going to change the way I play. It takes something away from me. I've got to go in and win balls.
“If I start thinking or considering every time there is a ball to be won, am I going to get sent off or not, I think it's going to take a lot away from my game and probably be detrimental to the team as well because I'm not playing at 100 per cent.”
Russell was not taking a recall for granted against Huddersfield today, however.
“I don't think anyone has an automatic right to play,” he said. “You've got to try to prove yourself in every game you play. There's an old clich� in football that you're only as good as your last game, and in my last game I didn't last very long.
“It's difficult. The lads have done fantastic so far and you've got to try to do what you can in training and try to get yourself back in and playing again.
“I'm hungry and I'd like to show what I can still do for the rest of the season and there are not many games left.
“If we can get the right results this month it puts us in a massive position to fulfil our ambition.”
Manager Paul Lambert was determined to keep Russell in suspense, however, not planning to name his team until 2pm.
“I never tell them the day before. I let them know just an hour before. I've always done it that way,” he said.
Russell admitted the presence of Lee Clark as Huddersfield boss may give some of the squad extra incentive today.
He said: “We had him in a coaching capacity and he was a good coach. There are a few people playing in our team currently who may have had disappointments and felt something needed to be done in the game at home.
“I hope we can take that incentive into the game when we play away as well.”