Ed recently posed the question, Who is the greatest ever Canary in the history of our football club?
It was something which occupied my mind over several days but after a lot of careful thought I simply couldn’t decide and set about solving less vexing questions.
Questions such as what is the meaning of life? or the equally taxing what on earth do I get Mrs C for her birthday?
Inspired by Ed, I’d like to set you, the readers of MyFootballWriter, another challenge. Namely which players would you put in your worst City XI of all-time?
It’s a question that perhaps reflects my natural tendency to focus on the negatives but it may prove just as demanding as Ed’s challenge. For whilst our club legends live long in the memory, those who haven’t exactly graced the hallowed turf tend to disappear into the mists of time. That is unless their feats are so appalling that they’re forever etched in our consciousness. As is the case with my first selection:
Michael Theoklitos – GK
I’m expecting little or no argument here. His City stats read played 1, lost 1, conceded 7 and that was to a team in League One. True, our opponents were managed by the man who turned out to be the Messiah but when Colchester rolled us over they should have awarded the hapless Aussie their man of the match award, such was his contribution to their cause.
His career was ended when he failed to make a trip to a reserve game which makes him possibly the only Goalkeeper who couldn’t even catch a bus. Interestingly he now goes by the name of Michael Theo, having dropped the ‘klitos’. Much like he dropped crosses.
Fernando Derveld – LB
The Dutchman was given a trial by Bruce Rioch, who sent him packing having presumably realised that he was rubbish. Unfortunately Rioch’s successor, Bryan Hamilton thought otherwise, signed him up and he actually played 22 times in a City shirt. Derveld even managed to score against West Brom, which was enough to convince the Baggies to take him on loan. Two games later they realised what we already knew: that Bruce Rioch was right all along. His greatest contribution was to provide the inspiration to the ABBA-based chant “there was something in the air that night, he’s Dutch, he’s sh*te, Fernando”.
Steve Walsh – CB
Another Hamilton signing, Walsh was a Leicester legend having spent 14 years at Filbert Street and earning the nickname ‘Captain Fantastic’ with over 50 goals (predominantly from centre-back). As far as I’m aware he never earned a nickname at Norwich but he did earn a lot of money for sitting on his backside on the treatment tables at Colney and the subs bench at Carrow Road.
Dejan Stefanovic – CB
The Serbian defender had 20 international caps to his name when he was signed by Glenn Roeder in 2008. His 12 games in a City shirt were notable only for giving away a penalty, getting sent-off for dissent and rupturing his cruciate knee ligaments. However by way of a saving grace, by all accounts he came to dislike Roeder as much as the rest of us.
Thomas Helveg – RB
Having played over 120 games for both Milan clubs and gaining over 100 caps for Denmark, the signing of Helveg to a newly-promoted City side was seen as a major coup. Unfortunately, our marquee signing played with all the pace and mobility of an actual marquee and he quickly lost his place to Marc Edworthy at right back. At the end of a tough season, Helveg disappeared faster than our hopes of Premiership survival.
Raymond De Waard – LM
Raymond was signed alongside fellow countryman Derveld amid a flurry of ‘Double Dutch’ headlines. He was renowned for having electric pace but looked and played like a man who had frequented the coffee shops in his native country. He was always at least ten seconds behind play, presumably because he had gotten the munchies and was too busy tucking into a wagon wheel or a packet of hula hoops. He made nine appearances for City without once appearing on the winning side.
Andy Hughes – CM
Hughes was initially used in central midfield during which time he made a name for giving the ball away and getting booed. A lot. Despite this, at the end of each match he would applaud all sides of a booing Carrow Road and earn himself the nickname ‘Andy Clap’. His energetic displays demonstrated that he had a ‘good engine’. It was just a shame that the engine was housed in the equivalent of a clapped-out Austin Allegro.
Julien Brellier – CM
The Frenchman joined from Hearts in 2007 where he had a sizeable reputation as a midfield enforcer and an even more sizeable flag bearing his visage and his nickname ‘Le Juge’ (The Judge), which had adorned the terraces of Tynecastle. Such was the excitement surrounding his arrival that a plan was hatched to buy the flag from the Hearts fans. It would at least have proved useful in knowing what he actually looked like because he was virtually anonymous throughout his spell at City which lasted a little over three months. Ultimately he will be ‘juged’ for his two telling contributions, giving away a penalty at Charlton and being sent off at Wolves.
Pape Seydou Diop – RM
It turns out that the name Pape Diop is the Senegalese equivalent of John Smith and it’s very possible that we simply signed the wrong player. Our version played seven times for City in 1999 and was the definition of the term ‘headless chicken’. Nominally deployed as a right midfielder he chased the ball wherever it went on the pitch like a puppy or a playground full of six-year olds. He would take a corner and then race into the box to attempt to nod it in at the far post. His City career ended amidst claims that he’d spat at the QPR fans but with hindsight it’s more likely he was just frothing at the mouth after 15 frenetic minutes of running about like a whippet on amphetamines.
John Hartson – CF
John will be remembered by fans of other clubs as a decent striker. I will remember his four games in a City shirt for the shirt itself. It was HUGE. It needed to be. The only thing larger were his shorts which were the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a Weight Watchers ad under the strap line “I can’t believe I used to be this big”. It was never clear whether Hartson had retained his touch because unless the ball was played within a six inch radius of his feet he didn’t stand a chance of getting it.
Dean Coney – CF
In 1989 City had a chance to win the league and Dean Coney was bought in to score the goals needed to see us over the line. He scored once in 17 matches. That goal came when he charged down a goal-kick and the ball rebounded off his backside. In many ways I should have started this piece with Dean. When he signed I was still at an age at which I idolised every single City player and wanted to be them when I grew up. Dean changed all that. He was the first player who I thought was rubbish. He handed in a transfer request citing the fact that the fans had it in for him, which was probably the only thing he got right during his entire time at Norwich.
So there you have it. My candidates for the ‘dream team’ of underachievement and ineptitude. Now it’s over to you…
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevocook
Ah such memories, Bryan Hamilton introducing his 5 non-entities to incredulity – may I thrown into the mix Dragon Muzinic, our first big money foreign signing, all the speed and mobility of the Yugo cars that were coming over at the time. David Strivahka – a forward apparently who a year later we saw somehow playing in champions league on tv and that bloke Goran someone signed in the dark days of League 1 who apparently played for Barcelona B.
Gary Field says
Great piece Steve.
Dean Coney was the first name I thought of when I saw the direction this piece was heading.
Perhaps the modern day equivalent is still within our paid ranks, albeit out on loan, one Ricky Van Wolfswinkel. Perhaps the most hyped up signing of all time?
I still chuckle every time I think about his pass to no one at Fulham.
Harsh, maybe, and I’m sure there are numerous others who were loaned during those wilderness years of the late 90’s and noughties, spent almost entirely in the Championship.
Giles Sterling says
Don’t like foreign players, do you? Helveg’s inclusion is ridiculous, he was part a good side that beat Man Utd and nearly avoided relegation. He kept Edworthy out of the team.
looks like you have gone for the more well known players and ignored most of the loanees under the Roeder era.
rubbish attempt at being negative.
Edward Jacobs says
Crikey, some horrendous memories amongst those. Although I think there are some slight harsh inclusions.
I thought Simon Tracey is worth at least an honourable mention because he was so terrible at times he made my eyes bleed and cost us a significant number of precious points which ultimately contributed to our relegation that year. His contributions were far more damaging to Norwich than Theoklitos – which was ultimately a blessing in disguise.
I also didn’t think Helveg was that bad and he played every game in what was a strong closing run in that season where we took 13 points from a possible 21. Even if Fulham was a complete disaster. He also wasn’t helped by being played in central midfield a lot by Worthy. I think Juan Velasco (so bad he was subbed after 30 minutes at Coventry) or Victor Segura are potentially more deserving of that spot.
I think it’s also to include Hartson and Coney in this team. Hartson was horribly overweight when he arrived but actually turned that derby game against Ipswich around as he won absolutely everything in the air, including the flick on Cureton’s equaliser. Coney was admittedly awful but represented a modest piece of expenditure and at least tried.
In terms of expenditure and outlay – Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Tony Cottee were far more damaging signings who have contributed absolute nothing in their City careers. Cottee’s attitude in particular was an absolute disgrace.
I’m actually totally baffled by some of your choices. I don’t know where to start (it’s unfair to pick people who were injured a lot or hardly played for us). The arguments against your choices are too long to list, but for one thing I’d rather have a fat Hartson than a breadstick like RVW up front! Surely the record signing, who sent supporters in to delirium, being a total waste of space qualifies over someone whose career (and diet) were over. Big John played 4 league games for us! You’ve mentioned the excitement around Brellier being a factor, but haven’t included RVW on that basis (which was far more palpable). And Andy Hughes? The guy was poor, but there are far worse players I could slot in there. Shaun Carey for starters. I know it’s a matter of opinion, but (to me) most of your choices are just baffling or based on injuries. Surprised you didn’t just put Neil Reynolds the physio in those positions instead.
No coincidence that the majority of players highlighted played in the dark days of Hamilton & Roeder, but their can’t be any doubt that this team would be managed by Peter Grant.
A strong case is made for all of these players and others like Jimmy Smith, Alan Gow and Arturo Lupoli but no All time worst NCFC XI is complete without Erik Fluglstad.
Here are a few more to ponder!
Keith Scott/Kevin Scott – both of them!
Bob in Diss says
Sadly, Ricky has to take the striking role in this team.
Kobe canary – if you’re going to take a pop at someone, at least do them the courtesy of getting their name right (Fuglestad) – he played over 70 times for us so couldn’t have been that bad?
Funnily enough, Ed also put up a worst XI back in June 2013 on here – compare and contrast;
Beckford for certain, sure we had the choice between him and Robbie Earle!
Mike C says
Andy Hughes – legend. At the end of his last game for us – a win at Ninian Park courtesy of a goal from Ched Evans(!) – he took off his shirt and threw it at the crowd, and missed! Classic.
Stewart Lewis says
Good stuff, Steve. Some horrors there, including one or two who’d surely walk into any team’s ‘worst ever’.
Others seem a little harsh, especially when we have Simon Whaley, Raymond de Waard and Steve Walsh competing for places.
I’m with Edward (4) about Dean Coney. Though it was literally true that he could only score with his backside, he did try. Which brings me to my cry: wot, no Sibierski?
Sticky Dave says
That Barry Caine we had on loan a couple of seasons back was total pish – whatever happened to him I wonder?
How can you not have Mark Fotheringham in that midfield!!!
Tim Sell says
Martin Chivers, Ian ( Spindly legged Spider ) Mellor, Peter Thorne, Jimmy Blair
Jim Davies says
I’ve got to put in a bid for Ross Jack. He might have scored loads if he wasn’t so afraid of messing up his hairstyle.
Graeme Davies says
Erm these things tend to just reflect the age of the writers. If you ever saw willie young in a city shirt you know he’d be the first name down on this teamsheet. (Robert rosario would be second on mine).
Giles Sterling says
el dingo says
The ref would have to be Clattenberg. Maybe a place on the bench for Roger “careless” Hansbury?