Holt - Our Best Summer Signing
"And it looks like Grant Holt is going to Sunderland."
That was the phrase that made my heart sink when I was listening to Talk Sport this morning (Tuesday). It was just a little snippet, a throw away comment by the news reader but it made my heart sink.
I instantly checked the internet but struggled to find anything recent about Sunderland being interested in the big man.
Later in the afternoon, 3.15pm to be exact, I was watching Sky Sports news and was just about to leave the house to pick up my lad from school. As I was tying my shoe laces I heard the wonderful announcement that Grant Holt had signed a new three year contract at Norwich.
Brilliant, Fantastic, Incredible, Awesome, Unbelievable, Tremendous, Superb, The Business.
I am very pleased, and I imagine most City fans are as well. This news was announced at a Press Conference to also herald the signings of Steven Whittaker from Rangers and Jacob Butterfield from Barnsley.
In all honesty, I think that we are going to have to go a long way to make a more important signing than the extending of Holt`s contract, this summer.
Since his arrival from Shrewsbury for a tiny £400k in the summer of 2009 he has been the catalyst for all that has been good about Norwich City`s rise up the football leagues.
Everyone knows the club were at death`s door and in danger of going out of business that autumn. Holt was bought with money partly contributed from season ticket holders and the rest was matched by a director, Michael Foulger if my memory serves me correctly.
On the pitch, Holt was in the same free scoring vein he had shown for the Shrews. Thirty goals that season for City propelled us to the League One title and earned him the player of the season award.
But it wasn`t just his goals that helped. Robert Earnshaw used to score a lot of goals but did literally nothing else. Holt was a different animal altogether. His work rate was phenomenal, coupled with a never say die attitude and of course those goals he quickly became a fan favourite.
Football fans will tolerate a lot from their players but they will not tolerate a perceived lack of effort, as Steve Morison found in the second half of last season.
There`s no danger of that with Holt - you get the impression that he`s like Arnie`s Terminator - he will not stop.
Promotion to the Championship brought a step up in class and much talk about whether Holty could cut it. In my office, one lad in particular, Rich the Leicester fan was adamant that Holt was not as good as Matty Fryatt and would not score 15 goals. A £20 bet was made that he eventually paid in one and two pence pieces after Holt scored 26 in all competitions. All this while leading City to another promotion, this time to the Promised Land of the Premier League, not to mention a second player of the season award.
No one likes a bad loser, eh, Rich?!
The same happened again when City were promoted - "Holt won`t be good enough, I bet you he won`t score ten league goals." This time Craig the Blackpool fan joined in with Rich on the betting front.
Both coughed up after Holt scored 17 in all competitions and 15 in the Premier League.
It was particularly sweet that he scored more than Craig`s beloved Dudley J Campbell who got thirteen with the Tangerines the season before.
Holt amazed us all though by asking for a transfer just days after triumphantly picking up an unprecedented third player of the season award.
Clearly something was wrong behind the scenes. On the pitch, I don`t think it is possible for a player to be so revered, loved and adored by his fans as Holt is by the Norwich faithful.
Between the player, his agent and the Chief Exec tweeting, going on the radio and generally chatting to the media it seemed the problem was Holty wanted a third year on his contract.
He still had two years left and allegedly David McNally didn`t want to play ball, thinking Holt would be too old. Twelve months earlier, the player had been happy to sign a long deal but clearly, with talk of England, he now wanted another year, which would take him to age 34 as well as provide him with a pay rise.
Paper speculation was rife with McNally stating "Grant Holt is not for sale." If the press are to be believed, West Ham offered as much as £6m for him but all offers from the Hammers were dismissed, out of hand.
Chris Hughton stated that his first intention was to meet with Grant and persuade him to stay. He has done it and I assume he`s charmed McNally into a change of position as well.
Whatever, I don`t care - Holt is the heart of Norwich City, he is our Captain and our Talisman as well as being a frightening prospect for the opposition.
When people think of Norwich City these days, they think of Grant Holt. The giant poster of Holt in the Chapelfield club shop is testament to that.
You may have guessed by the gushing praise I have lavished on Grant Holt that I am a big fan - I hope you`ll indulge me this as he is, I think, my favourite player in all my time watching the Canaries.
That honour used to belong to Darren Huckerby, but Holt has pipped him after last season. Imagine if Hucks was still playing for City as well…
Tomorrow morning when I get to work and I make a cup of tea in my Grant Holt "Hat trick Hero" mug, I won`t need any sugar to make it taste very sweet indeed.
OTBC - In Hughton we trust.