It’s guest blog time again, and again Chris Sadler has been kind enough to look back at some City players of yesteryear; this time at the club’s record signings…
Do you remember all these guys? They are Norwich City’s record signings as they came in. Some were fantastic acquisitions who enhanced the club in so many ways, and some… (sigh)… weren’t. But I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.
They say you should start at the top, so let’s get things underway with this blazing bit of bizarre Bondery. Please meet the (unfortunately) unforgettable…
Drazen Muzinic (1980–1982) – 30 apps, 0 goals – £300,000
Signed from Hadjuk Split in 1980 by John Bond. Muzinik’s stay at Norwich was particularly unsuccessful, leading to team-mate Justin Fashanu’s apt but probably apocryphal quote: ‘I don’t think we got Muzinic, I think we got his milkman.’ Muzinic left the club when his contract was cancelled after his final appearance in December 1982. He failed to sign for another club and retired from the game. Whether he returned to the dairy delivery business is a moot point.
A smidge before my time, but obviously an expensive disaster for the club. Gotta love John Bond, but this one, John? Really?
Things did pick up, however…
Robert Fleck (1987–1992 & 1995-1998) – 247 apps, 55 goals – £580,000 & £650,000
Signed from Rangers on 17th December 1987 for £580,000. Sold to Chelsea on 13th August 1992 for £2.1 million. Norwich re-signed him after a month’s loan on 28th September 1995 for £650,000.
Terrific business, terrific player, terrific character. Often worth admission price alone for his antics.
Paul Blades (1990–1992) – 47 apps, 0 goals – £700,000
Signed from Derby County on 18th July 1990. Sold to Wolves on 14th August 1992 for £325,000.
Never saw the best of him. He always looked nervous. Perhaps his transfer fee weighed heavy. That may be a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason.
Darren Beckford (1991–1993) – 38 apps, 8 goals – £925,000
Signed from Port Vale on 14th June 1991. Moved to Oldham on 25th March 1993 for £300,000.
Promised much. But ageing coach John Faulkner memorably remarked at the time, ‘Even at my age in training I could mark him out of the game.’
Jon Newsome (1994–1996) – 62 apps, 7 goals – £1 million
Signed from Leeds on 11th June 1991. Sold on to Sheffield Wednesday on 16th March 1996 for £1.5 million.
A committed and talented centre half who didn’t want to leave. Bless, we may have to blame R. Chase Esq. for that one.
Mike Sheron (1994–1995) – 28 apps, 2 goals – £1,000,000
Signed from Man City on 26th August 1994. He moved on to Stoke City on 13th November 2005 as part of a swap deal with Keith Scott valued at £450,000.
A thoroughly miserable period for Sheron, and us City supporters who spent much time groaning in the stands as he shanked another shot towards the corner flag. He went on to hit the net with disappointingly gay abandon at Stoke.
Darren Huckerby (2003-2008) – 190 apps, 41 goals – £1,000,000
After an initial three month loan, Huckerby signed permanently from Manchester City on 26th December 2003 for a deal eventually reaching £1,000,000. His contract was not renewed at the end of the 2007/2008 season and as a free agent he moved to San Jose Earthquakes on 1st July 2008.
A good one. Hugely successful and a great guy to have around the club – and still is. Well done, Hucks!
Dean Ashton (2005–2006) – 46 apps, 18 goals – £3,000,000
Signed from Crewe on 11th January 2005. Moved to West Ham on 22nd January 2006 for £7.25 million.
Another good one. A VERY good one. Should have stayed longer. Things may have turned out differently…
Robert Earnshaw (2006–2007) – 45 apps, 27 goals – £3,500,000
Signed from West Brom on 31st January 2006. Left for Derby County on 29th June 2007 also for £3.5M.
Bit of a butterfly when it came to clubs but scored plenty of goals wherever he landed. Was sorry to see him go.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel (2013–2016) – 28 apps, 2 goals – £8,500,000
Signed from Sporting CP Wolfsburg on 1st July 2013. After loan moves to St Etienne and Real Betis, he left permanently for Vitesse Arnhem on 1st July 2016 for a cut-price £500,000.
It just didn’t work out for RvW. Shame. I thought he was a player, but he just didn’t fit the system at the club at the time and his confidence quickly evaporated. Glad to hear his recent health problems are improving.
It’s worth noting that if van Wolfswinkel hadn’t signed, the two players signed after him later that month would both have been record signings for NCFC…
Leroy Fer (2013–2014) – 33 apps, 4 goals – £4,400,000
Signed from FC Twente on 13th July 2013. Moved to Queen’s Park Rangers on 20th August 2014 for £8,000,000.
Good player. Good business.
Gary Hooper (2013–2016) – 70 apps, 20 goals – £5,000,000
Signed from Celtic on 26th July 2013. Sold to Sheffield Wednesday on 22nd January 2016 for £3,000,000.
Had a goal or two in him. Sadly under-used.
But, back to the record signings…
Timm Klose (2016–present) – 116 apps, 10 goals – £9,900,000
Signed from Wolfsburg on 18th January 2016. Current NCFC first-team squad member.
A very capable player and likeable individual. A probable City legend – as long as injuries don’t cloud the legacy.
Of course, if Klose hadn’t signed, the following day Steven Naismith would have equalled NCFC’s record fee for van Wolfswinkel…
Steven Naismith (2016–2019) – 48 apps, 8 goals – £8,500,000
Signed from Everton on 19th January 2016. Left for Hearts as a free agent in July 2019 when his contract expired.
Was capable of scoring a goal here and there but seemed an unmotivated, borderline journeyman who took the money and ran. A neat trick with dodgy knees. An unfortunate situation all round.
So, in the words of Marty McFly (who would have been a terrier-like Bryan Flynn-type player in my mind), it’s Back to the Future…
What will happen next? It does seem likely that Norwich’s first £10million signing is not that far away – although presumably dependent on regular Premier League participation.
Who it will be…? An established player already out there? Or a youngster we’ve yet to hear of? Perhaps even an older player making a comeback?
We’ll have to wait and see…
*Cups ear and listens nervously for the sound of Dean Coney lacing up his boots once again…