City striker Jamie Cureton is determined to send his many Norwich mates home with a smile on their faces tomorrow night as the Canaries face the game of their recent lives this weekend with the visit of Queen's Park Rangers.
Victory and the Norfolk side will finally stumble across the finishing line; a draw and depending what unfolds elsewhere and it could all be over by late Monday night as the Baggies entertain Southampton at The Hawthorns for what everyone assumes will be a promotion walk in the park in front of the Sky TV cameras.
Defeat and the Canaries will be staring straight down the barrel of a League One gun as they head for Hillsborough next Sunday and a do-or-die showdown with Sheffield Wednesday.
In the midst of it all is Cureton – long-versed in Norwich ways from his teenage days as an apprentice at Trowse. Friendships were forged then that have survived his football wanderings. Back 'home' in Norfolk following last summer's ?900,000 switch, City's top-scorer has long worn his yellow-and-green heart on his sleeve and tomorrow will be no exception.
He knows what is a stake.
“I wandered around town yesterday and a few people came up to me and were saying: 'Can we get this done and out of the way..?'” said the 32-year-old Canary striker, about to bump into one of his former M4 corridor clubs tomorrow.
“That and 'Any chance of me scoring..?' so it's all friendly banter. But I do know a lot of people – I've got a hell of a lot of friends that support this club, so I know what it means to everyone.
“And I think they know that it means a hell of a lot to me, as well. So, yes, I've had a few friends give me a little gee-up. And I've said that if I do score, I'll run to celebrate with them and hopefully send them away happy. They can go and enjoy their pint or two after the game.
“We want to get this done – it's dragged on now and I can understand the fans frustration. But they obviously can't go out and do anything about it. So I understand why they get more nervous. But we know it's still in our hands and we can go out and do something.”
Like City boss Glenn Roeder this morning, Cureton insisted that the players remained cool, calm and collected at Colney; no-one there had developed an anxious twitch.
“We're not tense at the moment – we're still pretty relaxed,” he said, clearly well aware of the whole 'But, what if..?' argument.
“We know it's obviously still in our own hands – win a game of football and that's it. I'm sure if the results haven't gone great then we won't be after that, but at the moment we're enjoying training and looking forward to the game.”
And a chance, he said, to repay the supporters for what has been a long, hard slog of a campaign – and still one without a sure-fire conclusion.
“Everyone knows that it's not been a great season and we'd like to finish it on a high – or as much of a high as possible – so to win the last home game would be great.
“It would then put that relegation threat to bed and we could then move on to the last game and start to prepare for the next season,” added Cureton, one of the few players these days whose future plans are all-but guaranteed as the likes of Gary Doherty, skipper Mark Fotheringham and, most famously, Darren Huckerby find themselves firmly at a crossroads this summer. For Dion Dublin it is, however, the final curtain at Carrow Road this weekend.
“That's the aim – to get this season out of the way now; get the points in the bag and then concentrate on having a better season next year.” The fact that so many of their number could be going their seperate ways this summer is not, he insisted, taking anything away from the job in hand.
“Everyone's very professional,” said Cureton. “We obviously know the situation with Dion and obviously the players that are out of contract and really everyone is trying to focus on the job in hand. Even though players might go, or might not, they're fully committed to keeping this club in this division and winning the next game of football.
“It doesn't really get mentioned,” he added, with Roeder certainly determined not to let the words 'contract' and 'talks' cross his lips until the job was finished.
“It's up to the club and the players to sort that out. We just get on with it and, like I say, try and win football games,” said Cureton, well aware of Norwich City Football Club's place in the wider community – be it either the county of Norfolk or the city of Norwich, it is a central feature of so many people's lives.
“The club is first and foremost; it's the biggest part of the whole place; it's what makes the place tick. So whatever else is going on has to take second place. The most important thing is to win the game on Saturday and then everyone else can sort whatever out after.
“But I'm confident that we will get the right result on Saturday and then everyone can go up to Sheffield and enjoy the day – and celebrate Dion retiring. Because that's what we want – we don't want to be going there and it being a massive pressure game. If we can get the result, then we can enjoy the rest of the week and enjoy that final game on the Sunday.”