The good, the bad and the ugly in a dramatic season
PUBLISHED: 15:33 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 10:15 02 July 2010
If you haven't put your X in the box by now, I am afraid it is too late. The election that matters where Norwich City are concerned closed at noon yesterday and the count is under way.
If you haven't put your X in the box by now, I am afraid it is too late.
The election that matters where Norwich City are concerned closed at noon yesterday and the count is under way.
The winner of the player of the season award will be presented with the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy before kick-off in the final League One home match of the season against Carlisle United on Saturday.
There will be no shortage of conventional silverware and medals being handed out before and after the game.
But there are still those alternative end-of-season gongs and wooden spoons to be decided as we reflect on an eventful campaign, to say the least . . .
t Best performance: The way City swept Huddersfield away in the second half of both games was a sight to behold - and their football in the 2-1 defeat at Leeds was some of their best of the season. But it has to be the 5-0 victory at Colchester in January. After the first meeting between the sides and the acrimonious managerial saga, it was a grudge encounter in so many ways. There was so much at stake in terms of pride and the direction the rest of the season would take. But in appalling conditions, City played wonderful football and humiliated their hosts. Only Wes Hoolahan's saved penalty stopped them levelling the “aggregate” score.
t Worst performance: It might just be, er, Norwich 1, Colchester 7. The heaviest home defeat in club history. It all seems like a bad dream now, but the scoreline didn't flatter Colchester. It could easily have been double figures.
t Best goal scored: Michael Spillane won the official award at the end-of-season dinner for his splendid effort against Leyton Orient. But for me it has to be Chris Martin's winner against Leeds at Carrow Road. Everything about it - the move, the finish, the timing of the goal and the opposition - made it memorable, not to mention its significance in putting City 11 points clear at the top with eight games to play.
t Worst goal conceded: It could be any one of several against Colchester, but for the error, the timing and the opposition, it is Leeds' stoppage-time winner at Elland Road. A sliced goal kick, a defence that had switched off, and a gift to a striker who had spent the rest of the night showing how overrated he was.
t Best save: Declan Rudd made a couple of great stops from Simeon Jackson and Curtis Weston on his debut at Gillingham, but it has to be one of a trio of saves by Fraser Forster - from Paul McLaren at home to Tranmere, from Jonathan Douglas at Swindon and from Deon Burton at Charlton. Forster rated his save from Douglas the best, and he's in the best place to judge.
t Best match: With City chalking up 29 league wins, it may seem churlish to pick a draw. But for sheer excitement, with the lead changing hands, the 3-3 draw at Yeovil was a thriller. For quality from both sides, however, the 2-2 draw at Southampton was worthy of a higher level than League One.
t Worst match: The 0-0 draw at Swindon in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy was in a class of its own. It's astonishing that 848 Norwich fans made the trip on a Tuesday night in November.
t Worst refereeing performance: No shortage of candidates, but Eddie Ilderton at Tranmere or Kevin Friend at home to MK Dons. Both missed handballs that a man in a blindfold might have spotted, but at least Friend's yellow and red card count fairly reflected the Dons' cynical approach.
t Best goal celebration: The Hoolahan shin pad shuffle at Carlisle will always be remembered after City's late dash to a sports shop for those missing items of kit.
t Best away ground: Wycombe or Bristol Rovers for charm, Millwall for atmosphere, but overall, Huddersfield in the spring sunshine was best - a stadium worthy of a higher division.
t Worst away ground: It's hard to get the image of those braziers at Walsall out of one's mind after one visit too many to the Banks's Stadium. But Brentford was perhaps the most tatty of all.
t Dirtiest opponents: Eight yellow cards and one red one for MK Dons at Carrow Road summed up their approach as a team made in their manager's image. City also suffered three bad injuries in the first match, a contributory factor in their 2-1 defeat.
t Eleven best opposing players: Szczesny (Brentford), Richardson (Charlton), Greer (Swindon), Robinson (Millwall), Harte (Carlisle), Puncheon (MK Dons/Southampton), Lallana (Southampton), Douglas (Swindon), Snodgrass (Leeds), Shelvey (Charlton), Lambert (Southampton).
t Most sporting loser: Yeovil boss Terry Skiverton seemed just honoured that his team should even be playing at Carrow Road, but Huddersfield's Lee Clark takes the honours here. He shook every City player's hand as they left the field at the Galpharm Stadium after they had inflicted his team's first home defeat of the season - a noble gesture in the circumstances.
t The Fabian Wilnis Bad Loser Award: “If we're talking about the best footballing teams in the division then it's Charlton and Leeds, definitely. We should both be going up. I want it to happen.” (Sam Sodje, Charlton).
t The Wisdom of Foresight Award: “Norwich have every chance of promotion this season, not only via the play-offs. Leeds are eight points better off than the Canaries - a healthy head start if ever I saw one - but it would be wrong to assume Norwich are out of the running for automatic promotion or incapable of challenging for the title. After a very shaky start, their recent form has been ominous.” (former Leeds star Peter Lorimer, October 16)
t Foot in mouth award: “The Premier League needs Leeds United.” (Alan Green, 606, Radio 5 Live, February 13)