History-maker Holt’s delight
Grant Holt graduated from cult hero to legendary status after notching a first league hat-trick of his career to humble ten-man Ipswich in yesterday's landmark Championship derby win.
Holt became the first Norwich player since Hugh Curran more than 40 years ago to score three against City's arch rivals – an achievement the Canaries' talisman ranked alongside last year's League One title.
'It's definitely up there,' he said. 'It was at least on a par with lifting the trophy last year. I'd scored two and had a chance after that and it was frustrating – but that is my first league hat-trick so it shows you just how difficult it is. I had a header when Chrissy Martin cleared one off the line for them in the first half, another that got blocked and another header that I perhaps should have done better with but thankfully it came in the end.
'I was winding Crofty (Andrew Crofts) up before the game saying I thought he would score and he said he thought he would as well but thankfully for me it was the other way around. No, it's one of those things. I am a player who is paid to score goals and I want to score goals but to get it in a fixture like this is fantastic and something I will never forget.'
Holt was also delighted to create a slice of history in front of the biggest Carrow Road crowd since 1984.
'You can't put into words how good the atmosphere here is. When we are playing well and entertaining them they really get behind us and there isn't a better place in our league,' he said. 'It was a fantastic feeling and I don't feel we've had our just rewards in recent weeks, going away, playing well and not getting the three points but I think we attacked well in this game and showed everyone that when we do it well we can hurt teams. Fantastic, good win, good team performance and I'm sure everyone will go home with a big smile on their faces.
'I missed out on the goalscoring record last year which I was a bit peeved about. I thought I should have got close to that last year, but a few too many bans robbed me of it towards the end of the season but to get this was fantastic and a fourth I believe would have also been a record as well so that was a shame.'
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Holt's robust challenge on Jack Colback sparked a minor fracas which earned the skipper an early caution – but set the tone for Norwich's vibrant opening. Norwich's 'captain marvel' harried Darren O'Dea before calmly slotting past Marton Fulop then doubled his tally with an instinctive finish from Arsenal loanee Henri Lansbury's sublime pass. Holt then etched his name into Old Farm folklore with a cool sidefoot finish after the break to effectively settle the contest.
'We had a gameplan, we did it and it worked well for us,' he said. 'We started off working hard, we wanted to press them from the back and squeeze the play and it worked for us. I think the early goal also settled us and we were disappointed to concede from a set piece. The ball from Henri for the second goal was fantastic and he did so well because it can't have been easy coming in half way through the week. He showed everyone in this game how good he can be when he is on the ball his technique is very, very good but I told him afterwards I think it was the run that made the ball.'
Holt emerged from the dressing rooms minus the moustache he had grown during November in aid of the Prostate Cancer charity. The newly clean-shaven striker is confident a stunning end to a rollercoaster month can bolster City's play-off prospects.
'The atmosphere is fantastic in the changing room but like I said earlier I don't think we have got the results our performances deserved this month,' he said. 'Against Leeds we were unlucky not to get the win. Against Reading, especially, and also Millwall. It didn't matter who we played in this game in that respect – it was about the three points but thankfully it was against Ipswich.
'We knew we had drawn too many games in the last few weeks and we knew we had to win the game, regardless, but we have to kick on now. This, I think, puts us into fifth so we can push on into Christmas period and beyond and if we can keep that going we won't be far off.'