On nights like these there is one little phrase that sticks in my mind.
Mick Dennis used it in his first column of the season. I'm not going to big him up too much – he was having a little pop at the time.
But it was a typically neat phrase that struck a chord – and strikes another chord tonight. Not just in this particular corner of the world, but right across the Championship.
Mick's point was that, in every likelihood, if Norwich ever wish to repeat their title feats of 2004, they are going to have to stage another “Huckerby moment” – to step outside their usual financial comfort zone, close their eyes, swallow very hard and bag themselves someone out of the ordinary.
I say Norwich. Mick's thoughts were trained on the two new arrivals on the City board this summer, Sharon and Andrew Turner whose place on the Sunday Times Rich List probably does them little or no favours. All it does is weigh them down with expectation – an expectation that they are the ones with 'a Huckerby moment' in them.
Huckerby's arrival that Christmas was the product of many circumstances – not least the player's own determination to make the move happen. But it worked. Financially, it went way beyond the envelope, but the reward was an open top bus ride round the city.
It was a move that – from an outsider's point of view – wouldn't have looked right; wouldn't have made sense. It stood out. It wasn't something you'd expect of a Norwich; they don't bat in that league; they don't have fingers in those pies; they don't deal with those kind of people.
And remember that Huckerby was, what, 28 at the time? That's prime time age-wise.
Look round the Championship tonight and it is an interesting exercise to see who has gone for a 'Huckerby moment' – who has taken a plunge, gone an extra mile, done something different. Indeed, it's an interesting – if not, telling – exercise to do that across the whole of the summer.
Which moves have made all you seasoned Championship observers think: 'Whoa… that's interesting…'?
The arrival of Robbie Fowler and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at Ninian Park fits the bill – right up to the moment you read stories about some Panamanian-based outfit issuing High Court writs in relation to an alleged ?31 million debt which Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale immediately insists is a mere ?15 million – and not owed until 2016. Or whenever. Mmm.
They are also the other side of 30. Not prime time.
James Beattie to Sheffield United? Nah.
Luke Varney's wage packet at The Valley – yes. Luke Varney, the player? Nah.
In fact, the only deal that has really caught my eye tonight is Mikele Leigertwood's switch back to London to QPR from Sheffield United in a deal that BBC Radio Sheffield quotes as being worth ?900,000.
It's not so much the player as the figure – the first sign, perhaps, that Loftus Road might be awash with Formula One money once the window re-opens in January.
More worryingly, the kind of cash that F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and Renault boss Flavio Briatore can command could also hit the 'emergency loan' market very hard once that opens for business on September 7.
Elsewhere, Watford's signing of River Plate midfielder Santiago Aloi on a one-year loan deal looks a punt on a promising kid; Jason Euell is someone I've always liked; he could do well at Southampton – if memory serves, he's also played centre-half before now. Not the worst free in the world. And closer to his south London manor.
Graham Alexander's switch from Preston to Burnley looks a good deal for Preston – ?200,000 for a 35-year-old. Albeit your club captain. The on-loan Paul Gallagher could be lively.
Paul Dickov will just be a pain in the ass when he makes his Palace debut at Norwich in a fortnight; what Hull are getting in Caleb Forlan for ?1 million I've frankly no idea. Ask Chris Goreham's pal.
And then there's Leicester. Managerless Leicester who still managed to bag winger Marco Ferreira on loan from Benfica until the end of the year as someone bundles Stephen Hughes out of the back door to Motherwell and allows Eric Odhiambo to move to Southend on loan.
“We have been searching long and hard for a wide player,” City chairman Milan Mandaric told the Foxes' website tonight, clearly more than happy to be playing manager now that he's got Martin Allen out of the way. Allen's big crime? Not fancying Hasselbaink at ?20,000 a week.
But none are 'Huckerby moments' – they're all typical, Championship moves; scrabbling around after typical Championship players; with a dash of the Mandarics thrown into the mix.
The point is? Well, you can bet your bottom dollar that more clubs than Norwich will have made enquiries about Premiership-style players only to find Premiership-style prices being quoted back at them.
And that's the easy part. Then you've got to find a Premiership-style player – or rather a Premiership agent – that will even look at letting his client get his feet dirty in the Championship.
Go back to that 'Huckerby moment' and it was over Phil Smith's dead body that Huckerby arrived in Norfolk…
But in 2004 that's what it took to get City promoted. Yes, there was a lot of very special chemistry going on between manager and players that year – be that by luck or design, it clicked. And, yes, they struck lucky injury-wise.
But it was Huckerby's arrival that galvanised that side; the sent an electric shock of belief through both the club and the city.
In Sunderland's case last year, their 'Huckerby moment' came in the appointment of Roy Keane as manager – 10,000-volts worth of piercing Irish eyes.
Reading proved an exception to a Huckerby rule – that was just a fantastic team, carefully nurtured and developed by first Alan Pardew and then Steve Coppell. Tiny tweaks, here and there, to an existing winning formula.
Even before Jason Shackell's injury and it's not rocket science to work out where you might apply a Huckerby-style moment to Grant's Class of 2007-2008.
And, in fairness, it could yet happen in a fortnight's time – as and when the 'emergency' loan market opens its doors. Or again in January, if six months into their new 'project', the Turners decide that they would indeed like to make a splash…
Even without it, you can still nick a play-off place; there are dozens of teams with name-less players that have picked up a little wind in their sails in the back end of February and sailed right into contention.
But as a statement of intent, as a rallying call and a unifying force, having a 'Huckerby moment' is hard to beat.
And as that No5 shirt sits there vacant tonight, you can't help but feel that at some stage – be it now either on September 7 or January 1 – someone's got to bite a bullet and do what it invariably takes.
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