Evergreen Wes Hoolahan is still a joy for Norwich City fans
- Credit: PA
In the days of telephone number transfer deals, it's heartening to know that a quarter of a million quid's worth of footballer is still causing a stir.
Just short of 34 years of age, Wes Hoolahan has repaid every penny that Glenn Roeder paid for him back in 2008.
A mere £250,000 was required to open the exit door at Blackpool and head for Carrow Road and I think it's fair to say from the first minute we saw him, we fell in love with Wes.
He had a few problems to start with – Roeder wasn't always full of praise for the Irishman, but on the other hand, Wes wasn't perhaps enamoured at being played wide left when it was clear he wanted to be at the cente of play, the man who made things tick.
He wasn't always every manager's cup of tea because the label 'luxury' was too often slapped on his back.
Perhaps football needs artisans rather than artists nowadays: Wes has never been one to slack off and in recent seasons it's been noticeable that his commitment to defensive duties has improved, He isn't the greatest defender, for obvious reasons, but the sleight frame does what it can.
Wes is a play-maker, a little magician with a left foot to die for. He is a player fans love to see – and who doesn't like life's little luxuries? But with this one you get some effect: in League One and the Championship, opposition managers struggled not to mention his performance post-game... they loved him.
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Wes always made it look easy – that doesn't apply in the Premier League, to Wes or anyone else. But Hoolahan is still a huge part of this City squad, and of Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland set-up.
Hoolahan is City's longest-serving player, by some distance. After this season he has another year on his contract, and who's to say he can't keep going and going?
Wes has started 211 league games for City and even if he doesn't play again in 2015-16, that's an average of around 26 a season?
His international career started, in earnest, quite late: only under O'Neill has he blossomed and he has fewer than 20 Ireland caps to his name. His pace has never been extraordinary so it's not as if his legs are giving up on him.
Let's hope there's life in Wes yet – he is going to be fiendishly difficult to replace.
Is it an away banker for City then?
Can't understand what we're doing talking about a trip to Crystal Palace today – it's April for goodness sake.
There was a time when a trip to Selhurst Park was reserved for public holiday – since 2007, there have been three new year's day trips and one on Boxing Day.
Fortunately the chippy up the road opened and the supermarket that is attached to the ground was never rammed so you could always park close by.
The roads were always decent as the great unwashed continued to brush off the festive cobwebs. And the rest of the unwashed headed for the footy.
It did make estimating travel time a little tricky – on one occasion we got to Selhurst Park so early that the wait for kick-off was longer than the journey there. Once that journey was over, there was the prospect of Selhurst Park itself – and the best I can say about that is how much we looked forward to the trip home.
Magpies are a mile away
Rafa Benitez was full of praise for the 2,660 Newcastle fans who made the trip to Norwich on Saturday.
It's a 506-mile round trip which he had hoped would kick-start the Magpies' survival bid. As we know, it didn't work out that way.
Rafa's words did rather suggest that Norwich was in the back of beyond – some believe it is – but the trip was chicken-feed compared to some.
Newcastle's previous six away Saturday games had been to Chelsea (560 miles there and back), Watford (twice, once in the FA Cup – 536 miles), Arsenal (548 miles), Crystal Palace (606 miles) and Bournemouth (720).
And at least Newcastle have a derby – it's just 30 miles to Sunderland and back. Norwich fans' shortest journey is to West Ham United – a mere 222-mile round trip.