Iwan Roberts: Wes should be prepared to have a tear in his eye
PUBLISHED: 06:39 27 April 2018
EDP pics © 2004
Tomorrow afternoon will bring an end to an era.
After 10 magnificent years Wes Hoolahan will walk out of that home dressing room door, make the short distance down the corridor to the tunnel and make his way out on to Carrow Road for the very last time.
There won’t be a spare seat in the house, that’s how popular the little Irishman has been since he arrived on June 26, 2008 and he will be given a fitting finale to his Norwich career even though there’s obviously still one game to play.
We found out this week that Wes’s contract would not be renewed when it expires at the end of June, and as they did with me 14 years ago the club have given him the opportunity of having a great send off from his adoring supporters in the club’s last home game of the season.
I will never forget my experience of walking out with my three children to a guard of honour by my team mates to a full Carrow Road to say my goodbyes and thank yous.
I’m sure it will be a day that will stay with Wes for a long, long time too and like there was with me there will be a tear in his eye and plenty in the stands.
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I remember the first time I saw Wes play was back on the last day of the season in 2005 when he was playing for Blackpool at The Liberty Stadium against Swansea in a game I was working at. Boy did he catch everybody’s eye.
Blackpool won 6-3 and even though he didn’t score he played a part in every single Blackpool goal that day, you could tell he oozed quality and had a big future in the game.
I was honoured and lucky in my seven years at the club to have played with three of the greatest ever players to wear the yellow shirt of Norwich City. Darren Eadie, Craig Bellamy and Darren Huckerby were fantastic players and club legends and even though I never had the privilege to play alongside Wes he has to be right up there with the three lads I’ve just mentioned.
We should also not forget that Saturday could well be Alex Tettey’s last home game for the Canaries after six years sterling service, and we shouldn’t forget both Angus Gunn and Harrison Reed who’ve both had very successful season long loan periods at Norwich and all three deserve a big wholehearted thank you for all they’ve done.
The team drew another blank last Saturday up at Deepdale. However, with another clean sheet for the team and Angus’s 15th this season in all competitions it meant Norwich came away with a decent point.
I am not going to go over old ground again about the lack of goals but I will tell you the help and guidance I had as a young striker when I moved to Huddersfield from Watford back in the early 90s.
I was so fortunate when I signed our first team coach was Peter Withe, a proper old school centre forward who scored the winning goal for Aston Villa in the European Cup final in the 81-82 season.
Peter was exceptional in the air and he taught me so much on how to use my physicality properly and how to move defenders about especially in the penalty box which would enable me a bit more time and space in the box.
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In my second season with The Terriers we signed Frank Stapleton and even though Frank only played five league games for us, his vast experience at club and international level was invaluable and just what a young forward trying to learn his trade needs.
He was a great bloke and so down to earth considering he’d played for Arsenal and Manchester Utd and really enjoyed helping the youngsters at the club.
Frank helped me so much with my awareness in the opposition’s penalty box and taught me how to steal goals to get my goal tally up.
I was doing too much work outside the box instead of concentrating on getting into that six yard box where goals are scored.
By stealing goals, I mean I would get the final touch on a ball that was going in regardless if I’d touched it or not but I’d make sure that after big Frank’s helpful advice I’d be in the right place at precisely the right time.