Why Norwich City fans must be grateful to Delia’s mum
- Credit: Archant
In an extract from Tales From The City, Grant Holt talks about his best time as a footballer and how his move to the Canaries almost hit the buffers…
Norwich was the best time of my career. The journey the club had was incredible: a brilliant thing to be part of. But some of my best memories aren't about me scoring. They're about the group of lads we had there and great moments we shared.
For instance, the day we won promotion to the Premier League by winning at Portsmouth was unforgettable. QPR were already up. The other guaranteed promotion spot was between us and Cardiff. They were at home to Middlesbrough in the afternoon live on Sky, and our game at Fratton Park was in the evening.
We were in a hotel in Hampshire and had a team meeting at midday, and Paul Lambert said to us, 'Nobody watch the game. It doesn't matter what Cardiff do. We've just got to concentrate on what we are going to do. So nobody watch their game.'
I usually roomed with Adam Drury or Russ Martin, and it was Adam that day. We both looked at each other and said, 'Of course we are going to watch the game!'.
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Leroy Lita scored for Middlesbrough after three minutes. We both jumped up and yelled and you could hear muffled cheering from all the other rooms.
Adam and me went to the door, opened it quietly and both stuck our heads out – and everyone was doing the same. Every door all the way up and down the corridor had a couple of Norwich heads poking out, grinning like mad but worried the coaches had heard the noise.
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Middlesbrough's second went in and this time you could hear all the Norwich lads cheering. Nobody could even try to keep it down that time.
By the time we were on the bus Cardiff were losing 3-0, and we all knew if they lost and we won, we'd be promoted that night!
By the time we got to Portsmouth's ground, the Cardiff result was confirmed. They'd lost 3-0.
The Portsmouth manager, Steve Cotterill, had been on Sky during the coverage of the Cardiff game saying, 'We can beat Norwich to keep this race alive'. A few years later, Paul Lambert told me he'd heard that – so he must have been watching the Cardiff game too!
They were a special group. I very nearly wasn't part of it, though, because when I joined the club the previous season, I almost called the move off.
I'd had a good season at Shrewsbury but we'd lost in the League Two play-off final to a Gillingham team which included Simeon Jackson.
I must have received 30 calls from clubs and agents. Paul Lambert, who was still at Colchester, tried to sign me but the money wasn't enough for Shrewsbury.
Then Norwich came in. The fee had been agreed, and there was no problem agreeing my money. I was more than happy to join. But the medical was a problem.
I'd broken my toe and I'd just had an ankle operation. So we had to hang around while people talked about my ankle and toe.
On the third day, I was up at the Colney training ground and said to Bryan, 'Look, I either go back to Shrewsbury and say I failed my medical or you get it done today.'
So I think he spoke to Delia and Michael and they decided to go ahead despite whatever the medical had said. Delia told me later her mum, Etty, had watched the play-off final and wanted Norwich to sign me. Thank you Etty, you are obviously a good judge! And so I was a Norwich player.
• Tales From The City is available now for £10 from talesfrom.com/norwich and various book stores