Monday, January 28, 2013
Mark Tyler was almost certainly the happiest Norwich City fan on Saturday evening, as the Luton Town goalkeeper fulfilled a lifelong ambition in stunning style.
Not only did the 35-year-old appear in front of his family and the crowd he always hoped would be his for the first time. He also left Carrow Road having played a part in FA Cup history. A first-half save from Simeon Jackson in full flight and an even better reaction stop after the break from substitute Grant Holt ensured Saturday will live long in the memory of every Luton fan – and probably just that little bit longer for those in the Tyler household.
The former East Harling Colt goalkeeper was spotted at nine years old by City scout Kit Carson, but ultimately had to leave his boyhood club five years later – signing on at Peterborough where he built a long and successful career.
However, arguably it was his big moment at Carrow Road that will really make it complete.
“It is an unbelievable day; my family are here and this is where I started – this is where I wanted to be as a little boy playing football, so to come back here and play and keep a clean sheet means the absolute world to me and my family,” said Tyler.
“It was very emotional day. I really thought my chance to play here was gone and as you get older you can’t ever see it happening.
“So this is right up there for me. I’ve played at Wembley twice but when you come back to your own club where you started… I was only a young lad but this is where I wanted to be a professional footballer. So to come back here at the age of 35, it’s brilliant and a great day for the family – and to win and go through to the next round…
“You can see the lads were all drained but I was sitting in the corner out of the way, tired – mentally tired for me, rather than physically. We have got a good group of lads here at the moment and the gaffer is trying to instill a bit of belief, and that has showed in our two games in the FA Cup and hopefully it will be a good season for us.”
Tyler, who has come close to being signed by Norwich in the past, was already having a good day before a ball had been kicked – after his goalkeeping idol Bryan Gunn called before the game to wish Tyler luck and send on a pair of gloves.
“There has been plenty of speculation in the papers over the years bringing me here but until you are actually sat across the table with the contract there to be signed, you don’t believe it,” added Tyler.
“I would have loved to have done. This was my club as a boy, but it never happened.
“I stood in the River End over there, stood on a little crate because I was a titch and my mum and dad used to come to every home game and watch Bryan Gunn, so I’m definitely still a Norwich fan. They haven’t been playing well the last seven games and the Premier League is a hard league, but give them time. They have got a great manager and hopefully they will sort it out quickly. I definitely back them to stay up.”
After helping to give the most painful of afternoons to Norwich followers, Tyler was not expecting a rough ride from his family – quite the opposite: “My dad was in one of the boxes so I think they’re just proud of me to come back here and play, and obviously it brings back memories for them as well.
“We will have a quiet party. It’s a bit like Roy of the Rovers stuff really. I’ve been back here for Hull City but I was sub, so to actually play here is a dream come true for me. It’s great for the family and I just didn’t want to disappoint them.”
Preparing for Saturday’s game at Ipswich Town clearly did Luton some good, and now Tyler hopes the Hatters can use their fantastic victory to take them on in the FA Trophy and finally a return to the Football League.
Tyler added: “The supporters were magnificent. We could have probably sold the stadium out with our support. They are our 12th man when we come to places like this and this is a great day for the club, and hopefully it augers well for getting the club back on the map.”