Gary Hooper threatens to be the latest striker to haunt Norwich City
© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2008
Ahead of Gary Hooper’s return to Norwich City, we look back on previous painful reunions for the Canaries.
Players returning to haunt their former clubs is part of football folklore, when rejects return with added grit and determination to prove their true abilities.
From Frank Lampard’s serene reaction to scoring his first Manchester City goal against Chelsea, to Emmanuel Adebayor sprinting the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of Arsenal fans after scoring for Manchester City, players scoring against their former clubs is a renowned worry for fans.
Norwich City face that threat tomorrow when Gary Hooper is set for his first reunion as part of the visiting Sheffield Wednesday squad.
The 28-year-old former Celtic striker was sold to the Owls for around £3m in January after failing to establish himself in Norfolk, despite 18 goals in 38 league starts.
If the City players cannot limit the supply to their former colleague, the Monday morning headlines already await – and it is a threat Canaries fans have had to endure many times before.
Just last season a painful reunion with midfielder Leroy Fer proved costly, during a 1-0 Premier League loss at Swansea.
The Holland international, who had been sold to QPR in a deal worth £10m after City’s relegation in 2014, was introduced as a substitute and set up Gylfi Sigurdsson for the game’s crucial goal.
Popular striker Robert Earnshaw also landed a painful blow on his former club when he scored an 89th-minute winner for Nottingham Forest in December 2008.
The lethal Welshman chipped David Marshall to score the vital goal that day, due to Joe Garner’s own goal giving City late hope in a five-goal thriller.
Another striker who returned to haunt the Canaries was centre-forward Chris Brown, a flop who scored just once in 24 games after being signed from Sunderland for £325,000 in the summer of 2007.
Six months into his two-and-a-half-year deal the barrel-chested striker was sold to Preston for a £50,000 profit and then scored in just the second minute of his return to Carrow Road, helping North End earn a 2-2 Championship draw in November 2008.
Back in September 1998 Ashley Ward made a great start to his reunion with Norwich, scoring in the sixth minute for Barnsley, only for goals from Lee Marshall, Iwan Roberts and Craig Bellamy to earn a 3-1 win at Oakwell.
Mike Sheron only managed seven goals in 38 games for the Canaries following his £1m move from Manchester City but did return to score at Carrow Road.
The striker reduced City’s lead to 3-2 with a goal for QPR during a Division One game in 1998, only for Craig Bellamy to complete his hat-trick in a 4-2 victory.
Bellamy would also go on to score against City later in his career – on three separate occasions.
The Wales international helped Newcastle hang on to a 2-2 draw in the top flight at St James’ Park in August 2004, scored the opener in a 1-1 Premier League draw at Anfield in October 2011 and scored an equaliser as the Canaries were beaten 2-1 at Cardiff City in February 2014.
Another academy graduate to score against City was Jamie Cureton, scoring twice for Colchester during the 2006/07 Championship season, ahead of his second spell in Norfolk.
The well-known poacher scored the opener in a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road, keeping his celebration calm, and in a 3-0 victory for the U’s at Layer Road.
Ade Akinbiyi also returned to his first club to show what he could do, scoring the equaliser for Bristol City at Carrow Road in December 1998, only to see Iwan Roberts earn a 2-1 win. The burly striker also scored the opener as Norwich were beaten 3-0 at Burnley in a Championship game in April 2007.
Another forgettable reunion – and day as a whole – was the opening game of the 2009/10 season, when City were famously thrashed 7-1 by Colchester. Two of the five first-half goals were scored by former Canaries loanee Kevin Lisbie at Carrow Road, who scored once in five games for City during the 2005/06 season.
More recently, James Vaughan experienced a memorable reunion with his former Norwich team-mates.
The striker failed to score in five appearances in an injury-hit spell with City, following a £2.5m switch from Everton, but scored what looked to be a winner for Huddersfield in March 2015 – only to be sent off after receiving his second yellow when celebrating and then watching Jamar Loza snatch a point for the visitors.
It is part of football folklore that former players will rear their heads.
In other words, City’s defence will need to keep a tight leash on Hooper tomorrow, to prevent the poacher becoming the latest striker to return with a vengeance.
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