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The ghosts of Boxing Days past: Huckerby, Johnno, and the best team in the land

The secret is about to be revealed - Darren Huckerby, second right, waits to be re-introduced to the Carrow Road crowd by Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones Picture: Archant

The secret is about to be revealed - Darren Huckerby, second right, waits to be re-introduced to the Carrow Road crowd by Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones Picture: Archant

EDP pics © 2003

Boxing Day has had mixed reviews for Norwich City.

Since the turn of the century, they have won six, drawn two and lost eight.

And if that doesn’t quite add up, it is because there were no Boxing Day fixtures in 2010 (when City lost 2-0 at home to Spurs on December 27) and 2011 (when City beat Sheffield United 4-2 at Carrow Road on December 28).

The biggest win came in the 2014 promotion season, when City smashed Millwall 6-1 – and it should have been even more emphatic. Bradley Johnson and Gary Hooper scored two apiece after Steven Whittaker and Cameron Jerome had put them 2-0 up inside 18 minutes.

The biggest defeat was a 3-0 loss to Spurs in 2015. The Londoners also won 2-0 at Carrow Road in 2004.

Mathias Svensson slides the ball past Nottingham Forest goalie Darren Ward for the winner on Boxing Day, 2003 Picture: ArchantMathias Svensson slides the ball past Nottingham Forest goalie Darren Ward for the winner on Boxing Day, 2003 Picture: Archant

But since 2000 there is probably one game that stands out more than any other: not because of Mathias Svensson’s 14th-minute, but because of the appearance on the pitch of Darren Huckerby, in civvies, flanked by club owners Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones. Hucks had been a huge success as a loan player, and then-manager Nigel Worthington managed to secure his signature on a permanent basis. The Huckerby legend perhaps wasn’t born that day – but it was part of an amazing story.

Forest are, of course, the Boxing Day 2018 visitors to Carrow Road. Two days after thew 2013 win, City went to Derby and won 4-0. This year, Derby come to Carrow Road on Saturday - are there omens around?

BOXING DAY RESULTS SINCE 2000

2017-18: Birmingham 0 Norwich 2

2016-17: Reading 3 Norwich 1

2015-16: Spurs 3 Norwich 0

2014-15: Norwich 6 Millwall 1

Bradley Johnson celebrates scoring Norwich City's fourth goal against Millwall in 2014 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdBradley Johnson celebrates scoring Norwich City's fourth goal against Millwall in 2014 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

2013-14: Norwich 1 Fulham 2

2012-13: Norwich 0 Chelsea 1

2009-10: Norwich 2 Millwall 0

2008-09: Palace 3 Norwich 1

2007-08: Norwich 1 Charlton 1

2006-07: Norwich 0 Southend 0

2005-06: Sheff Utd 1 Norwich 3

2004-05: Norwich 0 Spurs 2

2003-04: Norwich 1 Forest 0 (old Div 1)

2002-03: Norwich 0 Brighton 1

2001-02: Forest 2 Norwich 0

2000-01: QPR 2 Norwich 3

Note:

2011-12: No Boxing Day game, it was on December 27 - Norwich 0 Spurs 2

2010-11: No Boxing Day game, it was on December 28 - Norwich 4 Sheff Utd 2

City may go into the Boxing Day 2018 game second in the table – which they’d take come the end of the season – but there have been occasions when it’s been better.

On Boxing Day 1988 City were top of the Premier League’s predecessor, the First Division. There was no Boxing Day game but on December 27, they surrendered the lead when Arsenal beat Charlton. Twenty-four hours later they were back, courtesy of a 2-1 home win over bottom side West Ham in front of the TV cameras. They would end the season fourth, behinds Arsenal, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Four years later, in 1992, City were top of the pile on Boxing Days – four points clear of Aston Villa, three places better off than Manchester United. Amazing days. That season they ran out of steam and finished third, behind United and Villa.

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