Grant Holt - a signing of the times for Norwich City

PUBLISHED: 10:36 13 December 2014

Grant Holt with the man who signed him, Bryan Gunn.

Grant Holt with the man who signed him, Bryan Gunn.


There is little doubt that few footballers have enjoyed an affinity with their team’s supporters as Grant Holt did at Norwich City.

While Holt’s personal success ran parallel to those marvellous times under Paul Lambert, it mustn’t be forgotten that he was signed by Bryan Gunn – it’s a fact that can easily get lost as the Holt-Lambert-double promotions get plonked in the same mental basket.

What might have happened had Gunn remained at the helm is an unknown, but Holt prospered under Lambert because, you suspect, they recognised similar qualities in each other.

Both were leaders: Lambert with a firm hand on the managerial tiller where just one thing mattered: winning. On the pitch, Holt led by example, putting his head where it hurts, squaring up to opponents who stood between him and mission completion; he lived and breathed the shirt. The fans loved him and Lambert because they were doing what the fans all claim they would do in their position – bleed yellow and green for the cause.

It was fantastic to watch, a privilege to report on, although both could be fractious characters. Lambert was never very far from a withering look and some scathing words – with or without reason, as I can personally testify. Holt had his moments: after his late winner at Scunthorpe he used some good old industrial language to inform me an interview wouldn’t be forthcoming.

But that was the man. He’s factory floor, one of us. And when he finally kissed and made up it was all fine again. It didn’t matter to him nor Lambert how others felt, because they led and everyone else followed.

Since Holt departed City haven’t had a leader in the same mould. This is no criticism of Russell Martin, a fine player and a fine man. But he doesn’t have, nor pretend to have, the same leadership qualities as Holt. Russell Martin isn’t a talisman. He doesn’t have the same status. His absence doesn’t leave fans hanging their heads in disappointment. Holt’s did.

Today, Holt returns with Huddersfield and will get a warm welcome.

How much fans give him is up to them, but beware: As many defenders have learned, give him an inch and he will take a yard.

Applaud Holt, but don’t help him – he doesn’t need it.

I can understand why Gary Neville said the Manchester United v Liverpool game tomorrow might be like watching the Dog and Duck take on the Red Lion – even though it is a bit disrespectful to said establishments.

United were dreadful in recording their fifth win on the trot at Southampton on Monday night, truly dreadful.

Liverpool are in an even worse situation: they’re so dreadful they can’t even buy a win.

One thing I don’t buy is this ridiculous claim that is trotted out about it being a good sign that you can win when playing so badly.

It isn’t, because if you play badly there is more chance you will get beaten than if you are playing well.

Not sure how many United fans want to see their team win, but fail to entertain, but I’d get bored after a while.

The truth is, United are just lucky that there is so much other dross in the Premier League at the moment.

It makes sense for King’s Lynn Stars to retain most of their team for the 2015 speedway season.

If it hadn’t been for the wretched play-off system and some very untimely injuries, we would have been talking about the Elite League champions.

Niels-Kristian Iversen and Lewis Kerr missed the end-of-season shenanigans, while Kenneth Bjerre and Rory Schlein were also sidelined at the back end of the campaign.

Just when they needed to be at their strongest, they were dealt huge blows, which even the baffling rider replacement rules of speedway couldn’t plug. Surely the Stars cannot be as unlucky again.

Should Lynn win the title in 2015 it would be the perfect way to celebrate 50 years of their brilliant Saddlebow Road track, more commonly known nowadays as the Norfolk Arena.

Is it written in the Stars?

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