Last week, I ‘bigged up’ Cameron Jerome for an England call-up. Partly through yellow and green goggles but mainly through no other English striker – other than the ‘Hurri-Kane’ whose in a purple patch that Prince would be proud of – showing better form going into this international break.
Much consternation, even bitterness, was shown by City fans at Roy Hodgson’s omission of John Ruddy from the squad, particularly after Fraser Forster dropped out through injury.
Instead, he plumped for a former holder of the Canaries No. 1 jersey, Rob Green, who had been given the ‘Napoleon Bonaparte treatment’ – exiled from the international stage since that clanger that gave the USA a draw in the opening game in the 2010 World Cup.
Since then Green has been up to and down from the Premier League twice. Some hope maybe for Ruddy?
Green was recently quoted as saying, “I would swap an England recall for three points in QPR’s relegation battle.” A sad reflection of club over country priorities that rarely was the case before Sky TV’s tsunami of cash crashed onto the footballing landscape.
While not much comfort to Ruddy, he does however join an impressive sub-group of keepers who were ‘legends’ for their respective clubs but one-hit wonders for England: Alex Stepney, Phil Parkes and Nigel Spink.
At Grant Holt’s Premier League peak in 2011-12, there was a sniff of three lions recognition but that drifted on the wind as Ricky Lambert muscled himself into Hodgson’s thoughts. Holt never got the chance to join Phil Boyer and Kevin Reeves as the only City centre-forwards to mix it on the big stage.
In short, the group of *Norwich heroes who have managed to pull on the England shirt is shockingly exclusive – just seven with a total of sixteen caps and in the main thanks to Bobby Robson.
Maybe that’s a reflection of Robson who was broad-minded enough to reward players from unfashionable clubs – having managed one himself – but also a credit to Ken Brown and the great squad and success he brought to Norfolk’s finest between 1983 and 1986 when twelve of those caps were awarded.
With the 30th anniversary of the Milk Cup final win at Wembley coming last week, it’s no surprise that three of those seven (Barham, Watson and Woods) played in that final against Sunderland.
Barrel-chested centre back Dave Watson comes out on top individually with six caps.
Kevin Reeves – in 1979 – remains the only City player to ever have played for England in a ‘proper’ international that really mattered.
It seems cruel that so many of our finest hall-of-famers never got even a sniff of a squad place at the highest level, particularly so when you consider that Dennis Wise got 21 caps, Carlton Palmer 18 and the goal machine Emile Heskey a whopping 62 over an 11 year period.
A handful of City players were subsequently picked after they had moved on and I’m sure Chris Sutton treasures the twelve minutes of action he saw in a friendly against Cameroon in 1997 while a Blackburn player.
Danny Mills too, but I won’t waste any more words on him.
On the other hand, we’ve been privileged to see the likes of Martin Peters and Mick Channon, both of whom magnificently represented England before their twilight years at Carrow Road.
But who’ll be next on that desperately undersized list? Jonny Howson maybe?
Impossible to tell of course.
Should Alex Neil get us to the top flight next season, the squad will need re-building and strengthening to stand any chance of, first of all, survival and secondly, cementing a place in the upper echelons of the Premier League.
Neil has done a damn fine job to date with a squad of players brought in by four previous managers, going back to Glenn Roeder who signed Wes Hoolahan. Neil’s only full signing so far, Tony Andreu, has been conspicuous by his absence on the field of battle. Besides, he’s French, so no chance of an England call-up.
The true test of the new manager will be the quality of the players he brings in as he builds his own team, reflecting his own style and image.
Whether that will include any future England stars is unknown. I hope we retain the home-grown core feel to the club and the following brief inventory of England caps will grow.
* The full roll call of Norwich City full England internationals:
Mark Barham – 2 caps – both against Australia in friendlies in 1983 (Bobby Robson)
Phil Boyer – 1 cap – Wales (friendly) in 1976 (Don Revie)
Robert Green – 1 cap – Colombia (friendly) in 2005 (Sven Goran Eriksson)
Kevin Reeves – 1 cap – Bulgaria (European qualifier) in 1979 (Ron Greenwood)
John Ruddy – 1 cap – Italy (friendly) in 2012 (Roy Hodgson)
Dave Watson – 6 caps – 4 friendlies plus Mexico & Scotland in minor tournaments in 1984-6 (Bobby Robson)
Chris Woods – 4 caps (all friendlies) in 1985-86 (Bobby Robson)
A total of 16, of which just 3 were competitive games with just 1 being in a European Championship qualifier. None participated in World Cup qualifiers, or European Championship or World Cup finals.
Laurence Gray says
Sad to say but the City players past and present in truth have not been good enough to get called up. We see our heroes week in week out putting themselves into the fray but they generally have been punching well above their weight. Grant Holt is a case in point as he didn’t do much before city nor has he since he left. Yes, we may have had him for his peak but the mark of a good player is the ability to perform in different teams. Grant dropped down a league into what was considered a big club for the Championship in Wigan yet he did not perform. That tells you something about the actual ability.
On another note on the subject we should not forget that for a long period we were a selling club so good players moved on and were then called up. If we had been able to hold on to our best players then we would have had many more caps for the club.
Stewart Lewis says
For me, possibly the saddest case is player who came through the ranks and looked so good that Martin Peters tipped him for England honours, only for injury to wreck his career. I saw him at Carrow Road last week. Peter Mendham.
Russell S. says
*Laurence – good points..but damn your logic! Some of our best in the early 90s (Sutton, Crook, Eadie, Fox..) when we were at our prime deserved a shot, even if just in the friendlies surely? That was the Graham Taylor era – a man who gave debuts to the likes of Keith Curle, Carlton Palmer, Dennis Wise, Geoff Thomas, Stuart Ripley…
Our tame exit in the group stage at the ’92 European Champs. and subsequent miserable failure to qualify for the ’94 World Cup (behind Norway) testify to the fallacy of only players from the top teams getting the job done for you at the highest level.
Re: Grant Holt – Ricky Lambert too has disappeared since moving from the club for which he had his main success (and got an England call-up from). Was he a better CF?
Alex Gregory says
Cameron Jerome doing fine in Championship but not sure if he will be more than 10 goals in prem and will not get England call or bigger club than us.
John Ruddy has had a bad season by his high standards, lacking confidence, some poor displays have meant he is lucky Rudd has not replaced him. Although against Derby he was fouled, he should have called it to the ref. I think the lack of confidence meant he just accepted it. Clearly not England standard.
Ian Crook and a few others others from Mike Walker or Dave Stringer eras maybe were worthy of a call up. Since then we have not had so many top 11 players in England.
We’ve not been that harshly treated all in all.
Russell S.(2) says
*Stewart – ah..Peter Mendham – that Milk Cup Final must seem a zillion years ago to him. Still he’s done his time (literally) and is trying to get back into the game on the coaching side.
*Alex – let’s hope CJ gets a chance to prove you wrong next season! Ruddy hasn’t had his best season and has fallen way behind Forster..but Butland!!? With you on Crooky – see my answer to *Laurence on the class of the 90s and Turnip Taylor.
Jim Davies says
I never understood why Steve Bruce didn’t get a call-up, both th when he was playing for us alongside Dave Watson, but more particularly when he partnered Pallister at Man Utd, especially as Palister was playing for England. Surely it makes sense that if you’ve got a great pairing at club level, with real understanding of each other’s game, you play them at International level?
On the subject of Jerome, much as I appreciate his goals and work for us, I think he’s reached an age where he has missed his chance (and I’m not sure he’s actually good enough).
colin mason says
Let’s remember we’ve plenty of international players representing other nations plus Nat Redmond u21’s. Eadie was prevented by injury under Hoddle. Who cares its the sum of the parts that make a team and we’ve had many great teams over the years. Two wins over Easter and we can pencil in the order for the open top bus! Butterfly’s already.