STUFF YOUR PRIMADONNAS…GIVE ME HOLT!
Last year I posted a blog entitled ‘Grant Holt – An Ordinary Legend’. In it I celebrated not only the outstanding performances of ‘The Horse’ but also his sheer down-to-earth qualities. What I focused on could almost be called an ‘anti-celebrity’ image. I mentioned his post-match interviews and how they make the listener almost feel part of things, how he speaks our language and genuinely comes across as one of us. I wrote that I felt we were watching legendary status in the making and I finished the blog by stating that I firmly believed that one day Holty would lead out a Norwich City side in the Premier League.
One year on and I feel it is now time to welcome Holt into Norwich City’s Hall Of Fame (not that I claim the right to do so!) Most Norwich fans would quite rightly consider that the key man behind our unbelievable change of fortune over the last twenty seven months has been Paul Lambert whose shrewd acquisitions and tactical awareness have underpinned everything we have achieved. That is not to underestimate the off-field contributions of the board, the Chief Executive and the coaching staff, especially Ian Culverhouse. However, if we concentrate our attentions on the park, the part Holt has played in our renaissance is certainly the stuff of legend.
Fifty goals in under one hundred appearances is a magnificent achievement but statistics don’t do justice to Holty. Here is a man, signed from League Two Shrewsbury Town after plying his trade at (amongst others)Workington Town, Halifax, Barrow and Rochdale, who now has people seriously suggesting that, at the age of thirty, he might merit an international call up!
There can be few of us who expected this when Bryan Gunn, in what might be considered his final positive contribution to the club he served so magnificently for so long, signed the big man in the summer of 2009. For my part I knew he had a decent goalscoring record in the lower leagues but I also knew he had moved around a lot, numbering at least eight clubs amongst his former employers, and I wondered why. I have to say now that given his magnificent contribution to The Canaries’ cause since then I simply cannot understand how a player who so completely embodies commitment was allowed to slip through the grasp of so many managers without ever attracting the attention of a top club. At the end of the 2006-7 season he was voted Nottingham Forest’s player of the year and yet they let him go!
If Holt were a difficult character, a dressing-room ‘stirrer’ or a bad influence on others I could understand it. Given that as far as I can see he is the absolute opposite, I can only count our Canary blessings! Maybe there is some truth in the concept that this is a perfect example of the ‘right place, right time’ theory. Paul Lambert’s arrival at Carrow Road coinciding with Holt entering a mature phase of his career might just have created the perfect combination, the manager’s burgeoning appreciation of the game with its continental influences providing the centre-forward with the necessary guidance to polish his bustling style with a bit of Premier League lustre.
Whichever way you look at it Grant Holt is now part of Norwich City folk-lore. His goal at Everton was the result of a piece of skill which had it been performed by a Drogba or a Balotelli would have been feted to the extreme, while his goals at Anfield and against Newcastle were more reminiscent of Ron Davies (for those with long memories!) or the Toon’s own Alan Shearer. His most recent Premier League strike, against Manchester United was also out of the top drawer.
Holt scores goals..and we love him for it. But for me his presence means more than just goals. He is our leader, our icon, our talisman, our heart. A hat-trick against Ipswich, that silly moustache, laughing on the pitch, accepting a substitute role with dignity, speaking through the media directly to us fans.. all of this is what makes him special. I’m sure we’re all tired of reading that he was once a tyre fitter but still the idea that a lad who came up the hard way, and even went to play in Singapore as a wannabe twenty year old, is now outperforming some of the strutting primadonnas of world football is just another reason that our club is what it is.
How does the Barclay song go? We ****ing love Grant Holt!
Guest post courtesy of the brilliant Frank Watson, check out his Norwich blog here.