City star Adam Drury’s stated intent was to create a party atmosphere within Carrow Road last night to celebrate his 11 years of hard labour with the Canaries in real style.
He wasn’t disappointed. Even the sun came out to play as the Celtic hordes arrived with a good ‘craic’ firmly in mind and duly played their part in a bumper crowd of 18,508.
“It has been the greatest 11 years of my life – and I’ve loved every minute of it,” the 33-year-old would tell the crowd afterwards.
“It’s been brilliant and let’s keep the party going for the rest of the night!”
An invitation, one suspects, that the travelling Hoops supporters would follow to the letter the length and breadth of Prince Of Wales Road.
As ever, they were in good voice from the outset as Drury’s respect within the dressing room delivered a full-strength starting XI – the only notable absentees being those away on international duty namely John Ruddy, Russell Martin, Andrew Crofts and Steve Morison.
Otherwise the gang was all there – including, of course, one D Huckerby who awaited his moment on the bench.
“I thought the game was fitting for Adam – he’s been brilliant for me in the three years I’ve been here,” said City boss Paul Lambert afterwards, refusing to answer questions about anything else bar Drury.
“It’s Adam’s night. That’s it – but I never said I wanted away,” Lambert offered, as the post-match Press conference tensed briefly. He did, however, suggest he was making plans for 2012-13. Not least finding a place for Drury, who is out of contract at the club this summer.
“Adam and I have had a chat – and he’s gone away to have a think about few things,” added the Canary boss.
Drury himself confirmed that they had had a conversation; his summer could get even better should he emerge with a new deal over the next few days.
“We’ve had a chat – there’s things on-going behind the scenes and we’ll wait and see what happens,” said the star of the show.
“It’s one of those where I we can agree on something we will, if we can’t then you can’t ask for a better send off than tonight.”
There was – contrary to pre-match speculation to the contrary – a big and heart-felt welcome to skipper Grant Holt. Another conversation that wasn’t about to happen last night. Not as far as his manager was concerned.
Whatever the ins and outs of last Friday’s shock transfer request, he continued to enjoy the support and the respect of the Faithful. They were not about to boo one of their own on Drury’s party night.
As for the game itself, Jed Steer had to alertly tip over a 25-yard curler from Tony Watt in the 15th minute; Holt enjoyed Norwich’s best chance – skewing a free header away from goal off a Bradley Johnson free-kick.
The night’s first goal arrived on the 20th minute as Wes Hoolahan drilled the ball back onto the penalty spot where James Vaughan drove unerringly home.
It prompted a bout of ‘Doing a Posnan!’ on all four side of the ground as the Premier League survival celebrations brought a joyous mood to the evening. And Huckerby hadn’t even shown his face yet…
The second-half brought a new-look Norwich that featured returns for Michael Nelson, Dani Pacheco and Herni Lansbury – and, indeed, Kyle Naughton; now back with his ‘mother’ club, Spurs. It was also a farewell gig for Aaron Wilbraham who was released by City last week.
Watt once more tested the keeper’s reflexes from distance; this time it was Declan Rudd tipping the ball over.
Drury’s night – or at least the playing part – ended in the 62nd minute as he made way for Simon Lappin. Fittingly, he left to a standing ovation.
Lansbury added a second making the very most of a mis-placed kick by ex-Canary keeper Fraser Forster.
Huckerby’s arrival finally came in the 76th minute; his return to the sacred turf prompting as big a cheer as Drury’s exit minutes earlier. It was just one of those nights… the roof would have lifted off altogether had Forster not flicked Huckerby’s 83rd minute effort over the bar following a typically sharp one-two with Andrew Surman.
Age clearly hadn’t dimmed the 36-year-old that much.
And Carrow Road proved once again that she still knows how to have a right good party.