January 22, 2012
If you look back over the chronicles of Norwich City heroes and fan's favourites, there are obvious legends that stand out; Steve Bruce, Kevin Keelan, Darren Huckerby and the undisputed "Disco" Dale Gordon are some of my picks. There are, however, a couple of names printed on The Barry Butler Memorial Trophy for player of the season that are less predictable.
During the 1990s, five of Norwich's player of the year recipients were defenders, including the unlikely 1996 winner, Spencer Prior. Of the 43 winners since Terry Allcock first won the trophy in 1967, 16 have been defenders, more than any other position.
It's a bit premature to be considering this season's player of the year award after just 22 games, but we're starting to see significant progress by the defensive unit that could result in another defender being the standout performer. It would be unexpected of a team that had to wait 22 games to keep its first clean sheet and for two and a half seasons and relied on its remarkable goal scoring ability. This weekend's home draw against Chelsea marks a step up in defensive quality.
January 5, 2012
You’re a professional footballer worth millions of pounds, playing on football’s most important stage. It’s the beginning of January and after a restful New Year you’re looking forward to the first game of 2012; a chance to make all things new.
The game kicks off and within 11 minutes, you’ve sent the home fans (all 15,000 of them) into raptures with one of the best goals of your career. A seven game streak without a win looks like it could be coming to an end. The gaffer’s smiling, the fans are singing your name and your teammates owe you a drink. All is well. All is new.
But as the crowd settles back into their seats at Loftus Road, you look up at the 1970s scoreboard, with one or two missing light bulbs to see your name in 75 watts of glowing electricity and it suddenly hits you; you’re not just any footballer. You’re Joseph Barton.