In November few thought we could stay up
Neil Doncaster, NCFC chief executive It might seem to some people slightly odd for a great club such as ours that after Saturday's game against QPR there were cheers and smiles to greet the achievement of safety in the Championship.
Neil Doncaster, NCFC chief executive
It might seem to some people slightly odd for a great club such as ours that after Saturday's game against QPR there were cheers and smiles to greet the achievement of safety in the Championship.
From a position that looked hopeless in November, Glenn has come on board and steered the club clear of treacherous waters. Indeed, more than this, Glenn, Lee Clark and Paul Stephenson have, together, turned us from a team staring relegation in the face into an outfit that has been able to compete with the very best in this division.
The scale of this achievement is, I think, recognised by our supporters - witness the massive outpouring of emotion at Carrow Road last Saturday, the relieved faces of the thousands of fans attending our Open Day on Sunday, and the happy scenes at the Player of the Season dinner on Monday night. But it is also well understood and appreciated by those in the football industry who, to a man, regarded us as a lost cause last Autumn.
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I well remember attending a Championship meeting of chief executives at the Walkers Stadium on November 7. Present were West Brom, Stoke, Coventry, Wolves and Leicester. And although everyone present said exactly what you'd expect them to say - “you'll be all right”, “oh don't worry, you'll turn it around” - their faces told a very different story: one that led inexorably to relegation and League 1.
Most of them had witnessed our hapless performance in front of the Sky cameras at Loftus Road and West Brom had comprehensively outplayed us 10 days earlier. All in all, their faces said, 'You've got no chance'.
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I don't think too many City supporters will look back on season 2007/2008 with any great affection. But whilst some seasons tend to fade in the memory, the story of Glenn's great escape, clutching safety from the jaws of despair, is a story that will live long in the memory of just about everyone associated with Norfolk's only professional football club.
This Sunday will see thousands of yellow and green clad fans heading north to Sheffield to enjoy the last instalment of a Championship season that has lacked for nothing in terms of excitement. With the outcomes of the top and bottom of the Championship still entirely uncertain on the final day of the season, no less than five teams remain fearful of joining Scunthorpe and Colchester in League 1 next season.
Glenn Roeder made it quite clear that before any contract issues could be sorted out, the first and only priority was getting to safety in the league. Now that this has been achieved, in some style, against QPR last weekend, the process begins of planning our next season in the Championship. With no less than 13 pros out of contract this summer, there is certain to be disappointment for some players, who will have to seek out opportunities away from Carrow Road to progress the next stage in their short careers.
Of course, the one player for whom finding his next professional contract holds no concerns is Dion Dublin. So much has been said about Dion, regionally and nationally, that there is little new that I can add. But I would like to place on record the club's sincere thanks for everything that Dion has done for us in his time here. When Nigel Worthington, in virtually his last act as City manager, signed Dion from Celtic on a free transfer in September 2006, many questioned his judgement in signing a player who was surely too old to help the Canary cause.
But although Nigel's tenure lasted just another 11 days, Dion's proud contribution to the long history of Norwich City has lasted a full two seasons. And, fittingly, his career ended with the well-deserved accolade of being the winner of the supporters' player of the season.
I had the privilege of sitting next to Dion at the fans' forum at the Open Day last Sunday. While some people can speak well in front of an audience and talk with confidence and clarity about the most complicated of issues, few indeed can completely command an audience of over 500 with the softly spoken grace that Dion demonstrated that day.
Dion, football is the poorer for your parting - but Carrow Road's loss is Sky's gain. The very best of luck from all the directors and staff of Norwich City in the next part of your illustrious football career.
Finally, I would also like to thank Flybe for their sponsorship and support of the club over the past two seasons and to welcome Aviva on board as our shirt sponsors for the next three years.
There are many reasons why companies choose to partner with Norwich City Football Club - and our supporters' loud, loyal and passionate support is just one of them. Enjoy our final game of the season this Sunday!
On The Ball, City!