Canaries Flying High Thanks To Grassroots Football
Saying the last few years have been quite successful for Norwich City would be a slight understatement!
The amazing thing is that it was a 7-1 home defeat on the opening day of the 2009/2010 season to Paul Lambert’s Colchester United side that sparked a miraculous revival in which the Canaries earned two successive promotions and currently sit in a very creditable 9th place in the Barclays Premier League.
It wasn’t long after the humiliation to Colchester when Norwich sacked the club’s goalkeeping legend Bryan Gunn and replaced him with Lambert – A change that saw a complete turnaround in fortunes at Carrow Road.
GUNN-ED DOWN: City Legend was soon replaced by Lambert
Instant success occurred with Norwich finishing the season in 1st place, nine points clear of Leeds United.
The Summer of 2010 was a busy one for Lambert as the Glaswegian Gaffer went about signing a number of talented players to secure their Championship status including Zak Whitbread, David Fox, Andrew Crofts from Brighton, midfielder Andrew Surman, Simeon Jackson and goalkeeper John Ruddy.
The season began similarly to the last – Defeat, at home, to Watford before going on a miraculous run, being in, then out of the automatic promotion places until 2nd May 2011 when former Gillingham striker Jackson bagged a second half winner away at Portsmouth to secure second place with one game left of the season.
GOING UP: Norwich celebrate promotion at Fratton Park
So what is the secret of the Yellows’ meteoric rise from the League 1 doldrums to the glitz and the glamour of the promised land that is The Premier League?
You look at the players that Lambert has brought into the club and notice that most have plied their trade in their earlier careers in the lower leagues. The squad at the moment has the likes of Anthony Pilkington, who, just five years ago was playing in the North West Counties League First Division for Atherton Collieries, Andrew Crofts was released by Gillingham before his move to Brighton, Bradley Johnson was farmed out on loan at Gravesend and Northfleet (Now Ebbsfleet United) only a couple of years ago, Jackson himself was playing for the now defunct Rushden and Diamonds not so long ago and Steve Morison was playing and scoring in non-league with Stevenage Borough (Now Stevenage) in 2009 after being released as a youngster by Northampton Town - These players are now excelling on the Premier League stage.
FLYING CANARY: Pilkington has stepped up
The players mentioned are just a few, I haven’t spoken about Grant Holt or Russell Martin, two others that have kicked around in the lower echelons of English football but the players Norwich have, the players that worked their whole careers to finally get the chance to perform on the grand stage of top flight football.
Many were praising Blackpool a few years back for being a breath of fresh air - Norwich are better than the Tangerines and I'm certain will be a Premier League side for much longer than Ian Holloway's men.
HEARTBREAK: The Tangerine Dream was soon a distant memory