Chris Lakey: How Glenn Roeder brought a true giant among men to Norwich City
You can, perhaps, blame Glenn Roeder for a lot of things if you are a Norwich City fan. And people do.
But if there is one thing that stands out from his tenure as Norwich City boss, it was his loan signings.
Recruitment is a hit and miss risk job for any club, but Roeder was fairly bold - even if he miscalculated and at times brought in far too many temporary players.
For every Ryan Bertrand there was a Matty Pattison.
But one player Roeder did bring in was an absolute gem – although his career was cut cruelly short while wearing the yellow and green of the Canaries.
John Kennedy was a colossus of a player: a lean, mean centre-half who came down on loan from Celtic. It was a coup for Roeder, but he worked hard to get his man, as Kennedy revealed in an interview with our man north of the border, Stuart Hodge.
Kennedy takes up the story: “When he spoke about Norwich and how he wanted to do things he was very convincing and you wanted to be a part of it and be playing with him. A few times I’d speak to him in the afternoon and then I’d go the gym myself and I’d come out to a voicemail – ‘Glenn Roeder’. He was back on again, ‘just checking you’re okay, something I meant to say to you earlier’ and he’d think of something else to say to you.
“And this was constant, for a number of days and as much as some players might not like that, I did, I felt wanted. I’d whittled it down to Norwich or Preston. I was speaking to both managers but Glenn went out of his way to make sure you knew everything that was going to happen, all the plans and that he would do everything he possibly could to get you there and for a player that’s a good feeling.
“Me and my agent decided we’d travel down to Norwich for a day, have a look around, speak to the manager and everybody else and on the way back we’d go into Preston and speak with them and go home and make a decision.
“So we went down, spent the day with Glenn, watched training, had a lovely chat with him. It was a lovely sunny day in Norwich, as it always is, and we looked around the training ground. Bryan Gunn took us to the stadium and we had a really good feeling, not just from Glenn but the club itself. The facilities for training, the stadium and just the general feeling around the city, it was a good vibe.
“Even on my way to Preston, I’d pretty much made my mind up. But I did the right thing, went up there, and it was evening by this point and I had dinner with the chairman and Alan Irvine.
“Again, Alan, fantastic guy, really great coach and I had a lot of time for him. I’ve met him since and spoken to him at different things and he’s a good guy. But I had the feeling from early on from Norwich, before travelling and even more so after going, that I really wanted to go there. I wanted to get an experience here, wanted to get back playing and this is the place to do it so basically the next day I spoke to my agent and said ‘let’s get to Norwich, let’s get this done ASAP.’”
It is such a shame that Kennedy’s career was ended by injury and good to see him still in the game, working alongside Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.
I can tell you that Stuart Hodge spent a long time chatting to Kennedy up in Glasgow and loved every minute of it – because Kennedy was, and remains, a genuinely good guy.
As well as lots of Canaries opinion and analysis, there’s loads of other stuff in the Pink Un magazine, including an in-depth interview with King’s Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve and a chat with Lowestoft Town boss Jamie Godbold, as well as a couple of cracking quizzes, the Secret Sunday Footballer... loads of stuff
It’s out today, priced £3.99, and is available from all good outlets and you can order at www.buyamag.co.uk/pink9
Lowestoft Town’s financial woes, revealed earlier this year, were a huge warning to local football clubs.
The Trawlerboys had swept all before them as they headed up to the National League North.
But once there, they couldn’t sustain it, and they have slowly drifted back down the pyramid, culminating in a battle against relegation from the Ryman league Premier Division. Crowds have gone from north of 800 to around 300.
It is hard work owning a local football club.
I was reminded of this when talking to Stephen Cleeve about his ownership of King’s Lynn Town, where he expects his investment to pass the half a million pounds mark this coming season – a little over two years since taking over. That’s a lot of money.
The lower down the football pyramid you go, the harder it is to find money – unless you are in the position of someone like Coggeshall, who had financial backing from pop star Olly Murs which helped them gain promotion from the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division last season.
Some of the teams they left behind have something of a conundrum on their hands ahead of the new season, given that the FA has stipulated that clubs which finish in promotion positions must take promotion, or be relegated.
Gone are the days when a club can say, ‘no, we’d rather stick, please – it makes complete sense for us’.
Just so the FA can draw some straight lines around the country when it comes to promotions and relegations and keep divisions nice and neat and orderly, clubs’ financial futures are being jeapordised.
If your ground isn’t up to standard then you’re safe: but if you are a club with a good ground, decent crowds, a team of players who like the catchment area they play in and your finances stretch to this year’s budget and no more, you may have a problem if are good at what you do. Some clubs don’t want the extra costs involved in promotion – especially given the FA’s penchant for sticking clubs in the east with clubs hundreds of miles away.
This is not the FA helping local football survive, this is the FA dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Norwich Evening News. Click the link in the orange box above for details.