Today’s news that Simon Lappin tenure as a Norwich City player has ended has been greeted with sadness by the Yellow Army.
A favourite amongst Canary fans, the ‘King of Spain’ was signed under the ignominious reign of Peter Grant. He went on to make 126 appearances for the Canary shirt between 2007 and 2012 and chipped in with four goals – including one unforgettable last minute free-kick winner at Luton’s Kenilworth Road.
When asked why he signed Lappin, Grant quoted a Scottish colleague who described him as having ‘the best left-foot in the SPL’ – and in fairness to our ex-manager, nothing happened in his City career to disprove that assessment.
A loyal servant throughout his time at Carrow Road, his most successful season in yellow was the triumphant march to the League One title in 2009/10 when he made 44 appearances. Predominantly playing as a left-sided midfield player, he still provided excellent cover at left-back when called upon.
While his performances on the pitch were very much of the consistent variety, it was as much his attitude to events off it that won him such a unique level of adoration amongst the Canary nation.
Whilst his defining moment on the pitch was probably the aforementioned free-kick, his defining moment off it was undoubtedly the magnificent way in which he handled himself when given ‘the treatment’ by Glenn Roeder following the now infamous 3-0 defeat at Plymouth in November 2007.
A confirmed member of the ‘Plymouth Brethren’ – a group of players ‘black-marked’ by Roeder following that 3-0 defeat – he found himself well and truly out of the first-team picture, and was consigned to train and play with the reserves and youth-team.
His predicament was nicely summed up by our own Rick Waghorn when, prior to a reserve game against Colchester, he wrote… ‘Whether or not Simon Lappin can find anyone in the crowd to watch him and end his Canary miseries is another matter. The last surviving member of the ‘Plymouth Brethren’ has long been told that he is surplus to requirements by Roeder; to his credit, however, he hasn’t ruffled any feathers as he waits – out in the cold – for someone, anyone to phone.’
And surplus to requirements he most certainly was; but, as Rick said, no dramas… no histrionics… just a quiet determination to train hard and take any opportunities that may come his way.
When that opportunity did present itself it was north of the border, at Motherwell, where he spent the second half of the 2007/08 season.
Surprisingly – probably to him as much as anyone – he pitched up at Colney for the 2008/09 pre-season training, but sadly was unable to overcome the ‘wrath of Roeder’ and didn’t feature at all in the first-team squad. Only when Roeder was asked to exit stage left, in the January of 2009, and was replaced by Bryan Gunn did he find himself back in the first-team reckoning.
Carved from the same Scottish stone, Gunn identified in Lappin the type of character needed to win a relegation scrap; but unfortunately for both it wasn’t to be. With Gunn’s reign at the helm being only a short one – Lambert replacing him early in the 2009/10 season – the ‘King’did his usual; he got his head down and worked his socks off.
With hard work and commitment being two qualities high up on the Lambert check-list, it came as no surprise that he went on to play an important role in that title winning season.
Although figuring less in the equally triumphant Championship winning season he still made a creditable 27 appearances and crucially played a lead role in those unforgettable, televised Fratton Park dressing-room celebrations. Memories…
Lappin himself would probably be the first to admit that the Premier League was possibly one step too far for him but – as ever – when called upon he never let anyone down. Lambert himself commented, at the Player of the Season presentation, that Lappin had ‘done great’ for him in the closing games of last season.
The start of this season again saw him depart on-loan – albeit in totally different circumstances this time round – with him leaving to lend Malky Mackay a hand at Cardiff, with Chris Hughton’s blessing. It didn’t quite work out – he was sent-off on his debut – and returned to Carrow Road slightly earlier than planned.
His final appearance in the yellow shirt came in the emphatic 3-0 FA Cup win at Peterborough, and was a good one. Assured, understated, yet efficient … a typical Lappin performance.
His departure, announced on the Club’s official website this afternoon, brings to an end a seven year spell that has spanned one of the most dramatic periods in the Club’s history. The ‘King’ has seen it all… from dropping down into League One to mixing in with RVP at the Emirates in April 2012.
A good player but – even more importantly – a loyal and thoroughly decent human being.
Good luck my friend… you’ll be missed. Someone is going to get themselves a good ‘un.