As the decade finally draws to a close, it’s worth pondering should it really be described as the stereotypical terrible teens?
For context, it’s been a decade that started for the Canaries with half a season in League One, has subsequently given us five Championship seasons, plus four and a half seasons in the Premier League – certainly a marked improvement on its predecessor, the noughties, with just one Premier League season, seven and a half seasons in the Championship and culminating in half a season in League One.
It’s been a decade with 470 competitive Canary fixtures (I’m betting there’s a least one reader who’s attended them all?) consisting of 425 league games, 27 League Cup and 15 FA Cup ties, not forgetting, two play-off semi-finals, against ‘that lot’, and a truly unforgettable, “it’s a blistering start by Norwich City”, afternoon at Wembley.
The decade kicked off for City on the 2nd January 2010, at Adams Park, away to Wycombe Wanderers, a 1-0 victory and a Korey Smith winner and finished, on the 28th December 2019, at Carrow Road, in a 2-2 draw against Spurs – the contrast could hardly be starker!
In amongst those final twenty-three League One fixtures back in 2010 were consecutive games against current Premier League rivals – Brighton & Hove Albion (a 2-0 away win – Grant Holt and Gary Doherty scoring) and Southampton (a 0-2 home defeat).
Picking highlights can always be a matter of debate. From a goalscoring perspective, there were the thumping home wins against Scunthorpe (6-0, in April 2011, which, uniquely included hat-tricks for Grant Holt and, his substitute replacement, Simeon Jackson) Millwall (6-1, on Boxing Day 2014) and Reading (7-1, under caretaker manager Alan Irvine). There were also a couple of League Cup home wins, against Bury (6-3, in August 2013) and Coventry City (6-1, in August 2016, which also included a goal scoring debut for Ben Godfrey).
The opposite end of the spectrum probably includes the two defeats by Manchester City (0-7, in November 2013, at the Etihad, and 1-6, back in April 2012, at Carrow Road) plus, in the eyes of many, the then season defining 2-6 defeat at Newcastle, under Alex Neil, back in October 2015.
For highlights against the so call ‘top six’, there were memorably away wins at Spurs (2-1, Pilkington and Elliott Bennett) Manchester ‘on the beach’ City (3-2, Pilkington, Holt and a mazy dribble from Howson) and Old Trafford (2-1, Jerome and the infamous Alex Tettey toe-poke). Also, memorable 1-0 home wins against Arsenal (Holt) United (Pilkington) Spurs (Snodgrass) and, perhaps an all-time favourite, the most recent 3-2 against Manchester City.
The ‘teens’ saw exactly 100 home victories in the league, the last being against Manchester City, plus 11 League Cup and just one FA Cup win.
Of decade’s 76 away wins, of the most notable other away victories, who could forget the 5-0 at Colchester (January 2010, with strikes from Chris Martin (2) Gary Doherty, Oli Johnson and Grant Holt – Wesley even smacked a penalty against the bar) and the equally memorable maundy Thursday mauling, 5-1 at Portman Road (April 2011, Andrew Surman, own goal, Simeon Jackson, Russell Martin and Dani Pacheco all scoring as City romped restlessly towards the Premier League).
Football isn’t anything without the players – 142 different names have donned the yellow and green over the past decade – less than the noughties high of 170. The difference is attributable to the changes in the loans market – 66 being loans in the noughties, compared to just 34 during the past ten years, seven of whom City subsequently purchased.
There were decade appearances by four “Hall of Fame” players; Paul McVeigh, Adam Drury, Wes Hoolahan and, triple player of the season winner, Grant Holt.
Most appearances during the decade belonged to Russell Martin, 303 of his 309 Canary appearances occurring in the teens, which started away at Southend United, on the 1st December 2009, with his less than distinguishable last appearance being a 0-4 away defeat, at Millwall, in late August 2017. Russ can, however, take a large degree of satisfaction from being the current record holder of Premier League appearances, 119 starts, plus six from the bench, with eight Premier League goals added to his credit.
Honourable appearance mentions should also go to Wes Hoolahan (292 out of 352) John Ruddy (243) and Alex Tettey 223 and still counting!
At the other end of the spectrum, there were ten single appearance canaries; six being from the bench (Recce Hall-Johnson and Cameron King, Ray Grant, Conor McGrandles, Carlton Morris and Marcus Edwards) with single full starts for Kyle Callan-McFadden, Paul Jones, Philip Heise and Adam Idah.
As for goal scorers, no one comes anywhere close to Grant Holt’s total of 58 goals – 54 league, 2 FA Cup and 2 League Cup – from Carrow Road, at home to Exeter City, with Stamford Bridge (twice) Anfield, the Emirates and an Etihad finale.
And one final stat, of the sixty-eight teams played more than twice, the opposition against which City currently has the longest unbeaten run is, you’ve probably guessed it, Ipswich Town, a mere ten years, 255 days and still counting!
Happy New Year everyone and here’s to the next ten, hopefully, fun-filled, years.