If anyone ever wanted to tee up their Testimonial season to near-perfection, then taking a leaf out of Adam Drury’s book might not be a bad place to start.
The 31-year-old former City skipper made his 39th appearance of the season in the final home game of the season – due reward for nigh-on ten years hard labour in a Canary shirt.
It is also a fitting testament to the popular full-back’s determination not to let his lengthy Carrow Road career end on a low note following two, miserable seasons battling against a serious knee injury.
This year and Adam has been a player re-born; a corner-stone of Paul Lambert’s mean-minded defence.
“There have been some bad times with my knee – it has caused me all sorts of problems,” he readily admitted.
“You play two games and you think: ‘I’m not going to play again for three or four weeks. And it starts to get you down.
“But, obviously, I came back and had a full pre-season and – apart from the torn thigh muscle that was just one of those things – its been fantastic to be playing regularly,” said Adam, having now long since sailed over that 300-game mark for the Norfolk club.
All, hopefully, is now set fair for next season – his tenth in a Canary shirt. “The Championship is where the club should be – if not higher. The fan base that we’ve got meant getting out of this league as soon as we could. And – thankfully – we’ve done that at the first attempt.
“And, yes, obviously I’m looking forward to next season – we’ve just got to take this momentum and this belief with us.”
He has, of course, been round the title block before; he has stood on the balcony at City Hall and lifted the famous old Championship trophy aloft. Did the two compare? This isn’t a ticket to the land of milk and honey that is the Premiership.
“I’d say it’s right up there,” he said, well aware that the Canaries didn’t exactly fly out of the blocks this time round. Not with that 7-1 home defeat to Lambert’s Colchester.
The fact that they have all-but sauntered over the finishing line, promotion and title long since in the bag merely adds to the deep sense of satisfaction at a job very well done.
“I think if you had looked at the table after the first few games of the season, people would have been pleased if we’d made the play-offs,” said the one-time Posh youngster, now a real part of the family furniture at Carrow Road.
“So to go on and do what we’ve done – to be Champions with games to spare – is an unbelievable achievement.”
The sense that the season could be turned about on its head wasn’t long in coming, it appears. The latest man in the Colney hot-seat soon set down his marker – on and off the pitch.
“I think you got the sense that this season could be a bit special more or less straight away. There are certain games that you can pick out – like Leeds away.
“They were top of the table, the ‘best team’ and all that and we went there and absolutely battered them and, obviously, were very unfortunate not to win the game.
“But the way that the Gaffer and his staff came into the place there was a buzz about the place straight away; a feeling that: ‘We can achieve something!’ and it just snow-balled from there.
“For once you get that confidence then there was never any looking back really.”
Look back over the sides that have come and gone since Adam made the short switch from London Road in 2001 and there is one glaring reason why the Class of 2009-10 have stood out – they score goals for fun.
“That’s been a massive plus for us,” he said simply, as Messrs Holt, Martin and Hoolahan blasted teams apart. And they weren’t alone.
“You’ve got two or three others chipping in – the likes of Doc [Gary Doherty], Nels [Michael Nelson] they’ve scored a few. And other lads – not myself, obviously!
“And, of course, you’ve got Holty [Grant Holt] hitting 30 goals and Chrissy Martin around the 20-mark, it’s an unbelievable achievement. And when you’ve got players scoring as regular as that then you give yourself a great chance.
“We do a half-decent job at the back – and when you’ve got a goalie like Fraser [Forster] – then it makes it a lot easier for the defenders as well.”
Young Mr Forster has been another huge plus for Lambert and Co; the fact that the on-loan Newcastle keeper walked away with the Players’ Player of the Year trophy at the club’s end of season dinner proof enough of the esteem in which he is held within the dressing room.
“Fraser has been unbelievable,” Adam confirmed. “He’s come in and he’s been fantastic from day one. He came in with a point to prove; he hadn’t played much football; he fitted in straight away and he has been top, top drawer.”
There was, it appears, a definite case of ‘Fraser, Fraser who?’ among the boys in the dressing room.
“To be honest, he was a complete unknown to me. I’d heard one or two things; the lads said that they knew of him.
“But I didn’t know him personally, but he’s come in and has clearly got a massive future ahead of him. The Gaffer has said it – and I agree with him.
“He’s a big, big lad but he saves everything. He makes saves look easy that other goalkeepers would make look hard.”
And, it would appear, he has no hesitation in telling his back line what’s what. He’s got a gob on him, to slip into the vernacular.
“He does talk us through it,” said Adam. “When things are getting thrown into the box – corners, crosses, set-plays – he’s a massive presence and he’s not afraid to come out and use that presence and come out and collect stuff. And that’s a big plus for us.”