Great leaders – are they born or made? Is it nature or nurture?
Depending on your historical source, it seems there are good arguments for both. In Grant Holt’s case, it was definitely the latter.
Quote time. The great American football coach Vince Lombardi probably said it best:
“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”
And boy, when it came to goals, did Holty deliver the goods. And he was well worth the reported £500,000 City paid for him back in 2009.
Yesterday marked six years since Bryan Gunn acquired the signature of Shrewsbury’s top scorer of the previous season. That same day, two other not quite so celebrated signings were made – Rhoys Wiggins (now at Charlton) and Simon Whaley (now retired through injury).
While Wiggins and Whaley managed three appearances between them, Holt of course went on to forge legendary yellow and green status at a level achieved by so few in the soon to be 80 years of competitive action at Carrow Road.
I can only think of former captains Ron Ashman and Duncan Forbes perhaps who have made that same connection with the faithful in their time. Perhaps Darren Huckerby also has a strong case to be included.
Ashman was well before my time but his record and everything you read about his exploits points to a true legend. Similarly with Forbes whose career just overlapped with my first conscious football memories.
Of course we had great players between Forbes and Holt, but arguably none who scaled the heights in terms of the aura they managed to cultivate at the club.
Holt’s time at Carrow Road was far more than simply the goals he scored – 78 in 168 games – as crucial as they were in the club’s renaissance from those dark days in League One. Of course, others contributed hugely to the successive promotions and splendid Premier League season of 2011/12.
Clearly, the Lambert-Holt partnership was a special one, both galvanising in those dark weeks after the Colchester catastrophe and subsequently inspiring the club to long forgotten heights.
We all have our favourite Holty moments no doubt. Magnificent goals at Anfield and Goodison Park along with that hat trick against Roy Keane’s boys stand out for me.
So many late, late goals that gained crucial points and made the fans feel like with captain Holt on the field, the game was never lost.
It feels a bit like that at the moment with Alex Neil on the side-lines, although on the field we’ve still not really found someone who has filled Holt’s metaphorical boots. As good as Neil is, he cannot put the ball in the net when it’s most needed.
You don’t need me to remind you that Holt’s departure was tinged with controversy and bitterness, with many supporters feeling he still had more to offer, but Chris Hughton decided new legs were needed.
Was it the right decision? Probably, in my opinion, as borne out by Holt’s subsequent struggles at Wigan.
Lured by the Northern air and carrot of the Europa League, Holt failed to make an impression under first Owen Coyle, and then especially under Uwe Rosler who effectively confined our former hero to training with the Latics’ development squad.
An undignified fall from grace.
Brief loan periods at Villa and Huddersfield followed before long term injury curtailed any thoughts of recapturing the glory days.
A Twitter post from the man himself yesterday alluded to a possible return to League One action at the DW in September. Surely though, the dreaded permanent hanging up of the boots is just round the corner?
The tweet before that one acknowledged the sixth anniversary of his arrival in Norfolk.
Just as we will never forget his time with us, clearly he will never forget the high point of a career, which looked to be going nowhere for its first decade but could and should have culminated in an England call up.
To quote Mr. Shakespeare:
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
I leave it to you to decide which one fits Grant Holt in the yellow and green.