Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett delighted for Wembley goal hero Cameron Jerome
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Canaries chairman Alan Bowkett was in the thick of the celebrations on the pitch after City’s Wembley victory but there was one player in particular he made a beeline for, striker Cameron Jerome.
The 28-year-old scored City’s first in the 12th minute of the 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough in the play-off final, taking his goal tally for the season to 21.
Jerome signed for a reported £1.5million from Stoke City early this season and went on to finish third in the club’s player of the season competition.
Having scored just twice in 28 Premier League matches while on loan at Crystal Palace the previous season, it has been a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the Yorkshireman.
“Cameron was very disappointed he wasn’t made player of the season,” Bowkett revealed with a big smile. “He said ‘what do I have to do to become player of the season?’.
“So I said ‘score the winning goal at Wembley’, so I saw him and said ‘told you’.”
City’s top scorer was pleased to have followed his chairman’s advice, adding: “I was giving him a bit of banter. He said I’d come third and I said I was disappointed not to win it, having a little bit of a joke, and he said to go and score the winner at Wembley.
“It was all in good humour, we had a little bit of a joke about it.
“Brad (Johnson, winner of the award) and Wes (Hoolahan, second), there’s been so many outstanding candidates. The skipper (Russell Martin) has been magnificent at the back, Jonny Howson has been unbelievable in midfield, Brad has obviously scored the goals and got the accolades and has been fantastic as well, and so has Wes.
“It’s great that now we can say it’s been a pleasing year, put a line through it, have a rest and get ready for another year in the Premier League.”
For Bowkett, Jerome’s goal not only allowed him to join in the joyous celebrations at full-time, but also continued the club’s financial success during his time at the Carrow Road helm.
The former Boulton & Paul chief executive was appointed as chairman in the summer of 2009, alongside chief executive David McNally and director Stephan Phillips, as part of the new regime brought in following the club’s relegation.
With the financial uncertainty of that time long consigned to history by City’s previous rise to the Premier League, Bowkett can now breathe a sigh of relief that the club’s financial future is once again secure – thanks to the estimated £120m which promotion to the top flight will now bring.
“I cannot describe how pleased I am,” Bowkett said. “I was beside myself for 94 minutes or whatever it was. The game-plan was to ensure that they didn’t score inside the first 15 minutes and then shut up shop and try and get something on the counter, that was what we tried to do, and then we scored two ourselves.”
The City chief directed his praise for the success towards manager Alex Neil, who replaced Neil Adams in January and inspired the Canaries to force their way back into the promotion reckoning.
“He is so organised, intelligent and calm and I think it is his calmness which has pervaded the squad and given them absolute confidence,” he continued.
“When we had that difficulty when we lost to Middlesbrough at home he said ‘no, we’ll still do it, don’t worry’ and he’s only 33, fantastic.”
Bowkett was also full of praise for the yellow army which invaded Wembley, with the Norfolk exodus to the capital providing plenty of entertainment for the City directors in the build-up to the match.
“Unbelievable,” was Bowkett’s simple assessment of the club’s support. “My niece sent me a tweet of a fan coming down in a Transit van with dummies of Delia and Stephen (Fry) on the back, and I sent it to Stephen and said ‘new mode of transport?’ and he said ‘yes, I’ve given up the helicopter’, and then he’s tweeted it round the world.
“But I’m useless at this tweeting thing because my son said to me that Snoop Dogg had a Norwich shirt (at Radio One’s Big Weekend) and I said ‘who’s Snoop Dogg?’ and he just gave up. He told me he’s a famous rapper and I said ‘does he live in Norfolk’ and he said ‘no dad, he lives in LA’.”
Hip hop may not be Bowkett’s thing – guiding the Canaries towards success however, is becoming a welcome habit.