If ever there was a transfer move that worked a complete treat, then Grant Holt’s switch from the banks of the Trent to those of the Severn is it.
For many, the one-time Nottingham Forest striker’s move from the City Ground to the New Meadow home of League Two Shrewsbury Town in the summer of 2008 would have looked a real step back.
In the event, of course, it has merely proved a classic example of one step back to take two, giant leaps forward as the Canary skipper begins to think of the impact he could make back in The Championship next season.
Not that anything is guaranteed. The Canaries still have a little work to do before automatic promotion is wholly in the bag. But after bagging his 30th goal of the season in yesterday’s 2-1 win over struggling Stockport County, so Holt can almost reach and out and touch the second tier of English football.
And with 28 goals to his name last season with Paul Simpson’s Shrews and 30 more this with the Canaries, so the one-time tyre-fitter will be wheeled out as one-to-fear next year if all continues to go to plan.
“I dropped down last year to bounce back,” said Holt, fresh from steering his City side ever closer a swift return to the Championship as that £450,000-odd switch to Norfolk pays off big-time.
Another season in League Two wasn’t on the agenda; whatever Simpson might have hoped. “I knew that I wasn’t at the right place at the time; I took the gamble and it’s paid off.
“I’m at a fantastic club and, hopefully, one where I can have a good go at The Championship,” said Holt, with ex-Canary chief Bryan Gunn due his share of the credit for bringing Norwich’s master marksman to Carrow Road.
It is, after all, some 46 years since any City striker hit that magic 30-goal mark – the last one being the legendary Ron Davies in 1963-64.
He is, quite clearly, wholly comfortable in his surroundings. The two parties – club and player – appear ideally-suited; both benefitting hugely from the other.
“It’s nice to figure in a team and be at a club where I’m happy,” said Holt, after the whole Forest thing fell a little flat; a loan spell at Blackpool adding to the sense that his career was on the drift.
Is he in the form of his life?
“I don’t know – I’m not sure, to be fair,” he said. “Obviously the team’s performing well and at this moment in time, I’m scoring goals. And I should be in my prime now. I’m 29 next week so, hopefully, I’ve got a few more years left.”
Holt, it appears, was always confident that he could score goals at this level; particularly if his ever-willing team-mates turned on both the service and the style.
“I played at this level with Forest and had a decent time – I got 18 goals,” said the City skipper. “I got 28 last season, so I knew I could score goals.
“And if you’ve got people who can put the ball in good areas and in good positions – which we’ve got – then you’re always going to score goals.
“And I’d like to think that some of it is me, as well. Hopefully my movement is good enough for them, but yes, you look around and you’ve got Hoolahan and McNamee who comes in and does fantastic and that’s probably one of the biggest things as to why I’m doing so well.”
Saturday’s landmark goal was a classic, predator’s strike as Holt found himself in just enough space to convert Darel Russell’s pull-back after Zak Whitbread’s initial downward header had left the Hatters at sixes and sevens.
He could easily have made it 31 for the season as Chrissy Martin’s second-half effort against an upright bobbled back invitingly for the re-bound; Holt also found himself moving a yard beneath McNamee’s next teasing, right-wing cross as nothing quite dropped right for the home side.
“Everything dropped the other side or it went the other way. We just couldn’t finish the job off, really. But it was all about the win and seeing it out – we managed to get the 2-1 and that was great.”
All of which left City all but home and dry. Eight more points was one figure quoted to gain promotion; the fact that many of those gathered beneath the runaway leaders have still to play each other in the remaining half-a-dozen games should see the Canaries breeze home.
Holt clearly can’t wait to find himself and his club back in the higher flight.
“You look around and there are 25,000 fans here or whatever it was and it’s all geared up to be back where it should be,” he said.