Marcel Franke's Darmstadt departure stirred the nostalgic juices of Charlie Horwood. With the World Cup taking a break, switch your attention to domestic seasons past with Charlie's 'We barely knew thee' City XI.
The transfer window is a funny thing- the constant coming and going of players, the excitement of new blood and the disappointment of losing those we didn’t want to.
In my lifetime as a Norwich fan I’d argue our transfer windows have often been notable for the quantity rather than quality. This means I’ve seen my fair share of good players, bad players and those who barely make enough of an impact to be one or the other and it is that third category that this XI is dedicated to.
The rules were simple- nobody who was just on loan, they must have played for the first team and they have to be the kind of player that randomly pops into your head and makes you go ‘oh yeah I’d forgotten about that guy..’
GK- Paul Crichton
If you google ‘Paul Crichton Norwich’ the first thing that comes up is a lecturer of the same name in the medical school at UEA, which maybe gives you an idea of the impact his footballing namesake made in his three years here. I always remember him looking really smiley in every photo I saw of him though so good for him. A career bouncing around the lower leagues followed all the way until 2011 and he’s now sunning it up in Florida at a soccer academy, so I assume he’s as smiley as ever.
RB- Keith Briggs
On the opening day of our title winning 03/04 season Keith Briggs started against Bradford but was subbed for Marc Edworthy at half time. When he came off we were 2-0 up, but when the final whistle blew we’d drawn 2-2. This created a perception in my teenage mind that Briggs was actually much better than Edworthy despite Edworthy actually being quite good. I’m still not sure I’ve gotten over it. #JusticeforBriggsy
CB- Ignasi Miquel
When you sign a 22-year-old central defender who has been on the books for Barcelona and Arsenal, been in the Spanish youth set up and played in the bloody Champions League you imagine a classy, ball playing type with football smarts. What you don’t imagine is him making only two appearances, both in losses to teams in lower leagues than us. Pedigree is overrated. His charmed career seems to have continued though as he’s currently playing in Spain’s top division for Malaga.
CB- Marcel Franke
The reason for this XI. Yes I know he’s not technically left yet but if he ever dons Norwich colours again I’ll happily dance on the tables of the Queen of Iceni dressed as Liza Minelli from ‘Cabaret’ (German, innit). Coming in as the man to shore up a leaky defence he instead made five league appearances in which we shipped 12 goals. He then promptly disappeared to Germany never to be seen again. Auf wiedersehen Marcel.
LB- Paul Heckingbottom
Cast your mind back to the summer of 2002. We’d been a penalty shootout away from an unexpected promotion to the Premier League. Expectations were high. The mood was positive. Who would we be bringing in? Maybe a striker to support Iwan Roberts? A winger to supply the chances? Or a backup left back on a free from Darlington? We went for the third and Heckingbottom was our sole transfer of the summer. Sixteen appearances and one season later he was gone. He did return to Carrow Road as a manager, most notably last season when being barracked by the notoriously fair and patient Leeds United crowd before being sacked this summer.
RW- Simon Whaley
You could write a book on the chaos at Norwich during the summer of 2009. Boardroom changes, managerial upheaval and no less than eleven new signings as the club tried to rebuild following the disastrous Glenn Roeder era. Whaley was actually one of the better known signings, setting us back a reported £250k from Preston. Like everybody he got off to a great start in our 7-1 loss to Colchester. Four games later he was out on loan at Rochdale having looked about as dangerous as a mildly concussed sloth on the right wing. His move to Norwich proved to be the beginning of a steady descent through the leagues ending with Chorley Town in 2011.
CM- Owain Tudur-Jones
The first thing I noticed about Owain Tudur-Jones as a footballer is that he was extremely tall. The second thing was…actually I don’t remember anything else. Even then he’s only the second tallest player I’ve seen play for Norwich (Peter Crouch for those who don’t remember). So…yeah. Thanks for the memories OTJ. He did curiously manage to make it back to the Wales squad in 2013 but Wikipedia tells me that 10 players had withdrawn through injury beforehand.
CM- Graham Stuart
In the January window of 2004 Nigel Worthington famously managed to recruit Dean Ashton from Crewe, one of the best young goalscorers in the lower leagues. Also, with markedly less fanfare, he recruited 33-year-old midfielder Graham Stuart from Charlton. Guess which one my brother declared ‘the final piece of the jigsaw’ in our relegation battle? Something I’m keen to never let him forget. Stuart made eight appearances and pretty much zero impact.
Fun fact: in the process of putting this together I discovered Jason Jarrett has a far more detailed Wikipedia page than Stuart despite Stuart spending the majority of his career in the top division and winning the FA Cup. Either nobody cares about poor Graham Stuart or Jason Jarrett spends a lot of time on Wikipedia.
LW- Anthony McNamee
The thinking mans Plan B. McNamee came in due to a dearth of wingers and mainly watched from the bench as our wingless diamond system tore up the leagues. I remember one poster on the PinkUn being obsessed with him though so he made an impact with them at least. Like Simon Whaley his departure from Norwich began a gradual decline through the leagues until retirement in 2014.
CF- Goran Maric
Pedigree is overrated part 2. Maric was freebie, signed after a successful trial having had a season with Barcelona’s B team. He appeared in a couple of cup games but never troubled the team sheet for the League. Less than six months later he was gone and spent the remainder of his career in the lower reaches of the Hungarian leagues. So what have we learned? Barcelona and Norwich just don’t mix. Sorry Messi, Coutinho and co but your yellow and green dreams have been cancelled. It just never works.
CF- Chris Brown
While I was a student at UEA I did some work with a local community radio station. At the start of the 07/08 season we were asked to write some predictions for the upcoming Norwich City season, seal them in an envelope and revisit them in May. My three were ‘Peter Grant will win over the fans, Chris Brown will score 15+ goals and we’ll challenge for the play-offs.’ Brown managed one goal that season and after departing Norwich he never even hit double figures let alone 15, including a 47 game spell without a goal at Blackburn. Due to the one he did score for us though I reckon that was the closest of all three of my predictions. Cheers Chris.