Last week’s announcement that City were to release ten players was as predictable as it was poignant. A stark reminder of the harsh reality of professional football; the flip-side of the multi-million pound transfers that will adorn the back pages over next few months.
‘No room for sentiment’ as the cliché goes.
Few have raised issue with the ten names on the list; a simple case of them being the unfortunate casualties of the club’s ongoing success. All falling foul of Hughton’s theory of evolution.
Where this particular list differs slightly from those of seasons past is it contains names of some who have indelibly inked their names in Norwich City history.
Simeon Jackson, without doubt, has carved himself a niche in City folklore so entrenched it will be a name that crops up in City conversations for decades – centuries even – to come. In fact, try describing the McNally years (I’m trying my best – again – to not use the L word) without mentioning his name… it’s impossible.
His goals in the run-in of 2010-11 are the stuff of legend and a quick Youtube search of ‘Jackson, Derby, Goreham’ is, to this day, guaranteed to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up.
Similarly that downward header at Fratton Park. Moments that will live forever in the mind.
While he has struggled to make the impact he – and we – would have liked in the Premier League, his commitment to the cause has never been in doubt. Always a willing runner and always a constant menace to opponents, his style was loved by the Yellow Army and – even although his opportunities have been limited – not a single murmur of discontent has been audible from our favourite Canadian.
I’m sure there’ll be more than a few second-tier managers whose ears will have pricked up at last week’s news and it would be no surprise to see his name among the 2013-14 Championship leading goal-scorers. Let’s hope if/when this happens it isn’t done so in a shirt of a peculiar shade of blue.
Chris Martin is another victim of the club’s rise through the divisions. His 20+ goal return in 2009-10 was instrumental in City bouncing back to the Championship at the first attempt and none of us will forget that late glancing header that saw off the ‘big club’ from Yorkshire. The picture of him wheeling away to celebrate that goal with the River End remains one of my favourite Canary images of all time.
His fate has clearly been sealed for some time now, but to see someone whose City journey began in their early teens drift off into the sunset is always tinged with sadness – especially when it’s not accompanied by a transfer fee.
Korey Smith, like Martin, played a significant role in the 2009-10 title-winning season and was a trusted foot soldier of our once-favourite Scotsman. His tenacity and high-energy performances were a feature of the club’s resurrection and, even before then, he’d made a name for himself by being the solitary bright spot on that dreadful April 2009 afternoon at the Valley – his City debut.
Korey’s youth-team colleague, Tom Adeyemi , while never reaching the same heights, is another whose promise has not had the chance to flourish at Carrow Road. Again, if the club were still battling to get out of the second tier there’s every chance a central midfield combo would contain a Smith and an Adeyemi, but the Premier League waits for no man; more victims of City’s newly established place at the top table.
Marc Tierney and Elliott Ward both played prominent roles in the aforementioned night of celebration in Portsmouth; the former entertaining the partying masses with his now-famous cartwheeling party-piece. A swashbuckler from full-back who epitomised the gung-ho spirit of his manager, Tierney – more than anyone – is paying the price for City’s change in footballing direction.
Wardy too will be forever remembered – in my mind at least – for that thumping 93rd minute clearance into touch in those nerve-fraying, frantic final seconds at Fratton Park. His arrival at Carrow Road coincided with that triumphant march to the Promised Land and, like Tierney, his part in that unforgettable 5-1 win in Suffolk will ensure a place for both in the annals of Canary history.
George Francombe and Lee Camp have both done all that has been asked of them – Camp in two separate spells – and in another era, another time, both could have had a role to play in the club’s future. Alas, chances for both have been sparse – the latter brought in very much as a stop-gap in the absence of John Ruddy – and they too find themselves makeweights in the rise and rise of Norwich City.
Ramil Sheriff and Olumide Durojaiye are the two final names on the list; both part of the 2012/13 Development Squad, they have been unable to force their way into the thoughts of Hughton – their City end game being an unfortunately predictable one. Fortunately for Durojaiye, he made sufficient an impression on former-coach Gary Holt that the new Falkirk boss has opted to give him a chance north of the border..
So… while all are now ex-Canaries, each has played their part – some small, some massive – in making our magnificent club what it is today.
Let’s do it the Norwich way…
Thanks for all you’ve done lads, you’ll never be forgotten.
Good luck for the future and Never, ever, mind the danger…