City skipper Grant Holt has probably long since stopped pinching himself; the days of asking: ‘Is this really happening to me?’ long gone.
Because his achievements are now there; set in stone; in the history books – the skipper whose 30 goals helped blast the Canaries straight back into the Championship at the first time of asking.
Would he have believed anyone had they said last summer that this is the way that your switch to Norfolk would pan out over the course of the next 11 months?
“I wouldn’t have believed them, but I’d have definitely tried to have jumped on the bandwagon,” said the 29-year-old Canary captain, fresh from his clean-up operation on the ankle complaint that dogged him for much of 2009-10.
His absence from the final day promotion party was a rare cloud on the horizon; other than that red card and the three-match ban that followed, it has been blue skies pretty much all the way since making that move from Shrewsbury last summer.
“Obviously it’s gone a lot better than I had ever hoped – on both a personal level and on a team level,” added Holt, speaking to the NCFC Matchday Programme.
“We knew we needed to achieve promotion, but to go on and win the league in the manner that we’ve done it is fantastic.”
They have, if truth be told, strolled it – and all with both Grant’s goals and leadership at its heart. He, like assistant boss Ian Culverhouse, would pin-point that away defeat at then-leaders Leeds United in October as the moment when something clicked; when a belief formed in the dressing room that would stay there right through the winter and on into spring.
The force was with Paul Lambert’s Canaries from the moment they stepped back onto the bus following that narrow and ill-deserved 2-1 defeat.
“I’d agree with that game – Leeds away,” said Grant. “As much as we got beat on the night, I thought the performance levels, the enthusiasm and the energy levels were fantastic.
“We were unlucky on the night; we had a couple of opportunities; they just didn’t fall our way. And in the dressing room afterwards we were disappointed with the result – obviously. We don’t like getting beat.
“But I think the manner in which we got beat, it helped us immensely. We looked at it and we knew that we had passed them off the park for 90 minutes and I think that at the time they were 11 points clear.
“And we looked at that and thought: ‘Yeh, they’re not a bad side, but…’ That we knew we were a good side; that we could go on and win it.”
Above and beyond that, this was a side that could go away from home and grind out results – 1-0 away wins, invariably courtesy of a late winner, became something of the norm.
“That’s right – and that’s what it is all about. It’s all about going to the grounds of the so-called ‘lesser’ clubs – the likes of Oldham away and that and getting points.
“If you do as well as you can at home – which is tough in this league because people come here 4-5-1; they’re sitting in; looking to take the draw gladly; and we’ve broken them down; we’ve done that – and away from home I think we’ve been absolutely superb this year.”
As anyone who travels the length and breadth of the land in their Canary travels will confirm, that level of away-day consistency has been long, long overdue.
Having three players all of whom have hit the net on a regular basis has also been a wonderful change from years and teams gone by.
Wes Hoolahan has clearly sparkled at the tip of that midfield diamond; much to Grant’s benefit.
“I think when you’ve got someone like Wes who can play in there – and especially in the form that he was in for four or five months there where no-one could get near him – and then you’ve got Chrissy Martin who is a fantastic finisher then the balance has been good.
“And I’m sure if you ask them, they’ll say that I complement them. That I stay higher up; I do the physical side for them – so it’s worked really well.”