Team Russ 4 Team Wes 7: Almost 20,000 Canaries fans continue promotion celebrations at charity exhibition
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Memorable promotion celebrations continued at Carrow Road this afternoon, with a host of former Norwich City favourites providing the entertainment for just under 20,000 fans in honour of club legends Wes Hoolahan and Russell Martin.
Fresh from the Canaries wrapping up the Championship title at Aston Villa on Sunday, Norwich had been decorated in yellow and green for promotion celebrations at City Hall and an open-top bus parade on the morning of Bank Holiday Monday.
So there was a real buzz of excitement around the ground as fans made their way down from the city centre, chatting about their view of the promotion parade in the morning and looking forward to more fun.
The volume really cranked up half an hour before kick-off though when the first team arrived, fresh off the bus which had wound through the city so that thousands of City supporters could thank their heroes.
The biggest cheer was reserved for head coach Daniel Farke though, after chatting with some of the players warming up for the charity game, taking to the centre circle for another of his trademark arm-waving celebrations.
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Turning to all four sides of the stadium to encourage everyone to join in the cheers, the noise swelled with every triumphant wave of the German’s arms before the man who has led City back to the Premier League departed.
There was a rousing reception for Ivo Pinto as sporting director Stuart Webber presented him with a framed image ahead of his final Carrow Road appearance, with majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones making a similar presentation to Russell Martin.
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Once the action got under way it was clear it was going to be a fun afternoon, with City fans eagerly awaiting seeing some of the favourite former players try to recreate the magic.
Hoolahan hit the post early on but soon set up Darren Huckerby for the opening goal and the talisman of the 2004 title winners made it a quick-fire brace after exchanging passes with Anthony Pilkington.
Team Wes were 3-0 up within 15 minutes but only once Declan Rudd had denied Hoolahan with a decent save, with Pilkington lashing in
Grant Holt pulled a goal back for Team Russ, turning in an Adam Drury cross from close range, but Pilkington made it 4-1 in the 41st minute, before the magic moment many had hoped for.
Hoolahan weaved past Darren Kenton and Gary Holt before picking his spot and finding the top corner from close range, making it 5-1 at the break, in the pouring rain.
With several substitutions throughout the game for both teams, Martin was twice denied by Aston Oxborough saves before his big moment, pushing forward before powering in a diving header from a Simon Lappin cross in the 54th minute, then busting out a knee-slide on the wet turf in front of the Barclay,
With a Mexican wave picking up the party atmosphere it was time for Martin to be replaced to a rousing reception 10 minutes later, topping off a brilliant few days for the former Scotland international after playing 90 minutes as MK Dons beat Mansfield 1-0 on Saturday to seal promotion from League Two.
Pinto soon followed and current players Alex Tettey and Louis Thompson were in the mix, despite Tettey having played almost an hour at Villa the day before.
Steven Whittaker had headed a third goal for Team Russ in amongst the many changes and Jamie Cureton hit the post as Team Russ threatened a comeback, with Oxborough getting down well to deny a thumping Owain Tudur Jones effort and Anthony McNamee also striking the post after a gorgeous stepover.
Hoolahan’s side eased further ahead though when Simeon Jackson turned in a Paul McVeigh cross for 6-3 but Martin was back on the pitch briefly after Mike Milligan had clipped McNamee and conceded a penalty, stroked home by the skipper to make it 6-4.
Alan Gow made sure of the win for Team Wes though, linking with Jackson to make the final score 7-4 to Team Wes in increasingly horrible conditions, with rain and hail lashing down.
Funds raised will go towards the Community Sports Foundation’s drive to fulfil their plans for their community hub, The Nest, near Norwich Airport, with both players also choosing two good causes apiece.
Hoolahan’s chosen charities are Stepping Stones, a Norwich-based charity for adults with learning difficulties, and Temple Street Hospital in Dublin, where he was born.
Martin are the Russell Martin Foundation, a charitable operation in his hometown of Brighton, and Crohns and Colitis UK, having spoken publicly about dealing with ulcerative colitis during his career.
TEAM RUSS STARTING XI: Declan Rudd, Steven Whittaker, Zak Whitbread, Russ Martin, Adam Drury, George Francomb, Gary Holt, Owain Tudur Jones, Simon Lappin, Grant Holt, Chris Martin. Subs: Louis Thompson, Jamie Cureton, Anthony McNamee, Simeon Jackson
Goals: Russell Martin (2), Grant Holt, Whittaker
TEAM WES STARTING XI: Michael McGovern, Ivo Pinto, Elliott Ward, Michael Nelson, Darel Russell, David Fox, Jonny Howson, Darren Huckerby, Wes Hoolahan, Anthony Pikington, Aaron Wilbraham. Subs: Aston Oxborough, Gary Doherty, Paul McVeigh, Alex Tettey, Mike Milligan, Alan Gow
Goals: Huckerby (2), Pilkington (2), Hoolahan, Jackson, Gow