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Grant Holt: All players know the importance of the derby

17 October 2017

From Wes Hoolahan’s roly-poly to local bragging rights, City legend Grant Holt looks back at the Canaries’ memorable 4-1 and 5-1 wins in the 2010-11 season that sparked Norwich’s promotion push.

Before you joined Norwich were you aware of how big the rivalry was between the two clubs?
I think you are aware, yes. I think when you’re younger you see it on TV just because it’s a derby, and that made you realise it was a big deal. But you don’t realise until you’re actually involved just how big it is.

Going into the derby at Carrow Road in 2010, we hadn’t won in five games and were just below the play-offs. What was the mood like among the team ahead of the match?
You’re always nervous because you know what it means to everyone. And you only get two games in a year to show it, and especially at home you get bragging rights so all players know the importance of the derby. We were trying to keep as grounded as we could in the build-up, but you could see how hectic and frantic it was at the start of the match as everyone tried to get a foothold in the game.

Of your three goals which was your favourite?
Probably my second one [when Henri Lansbury played him through]. We’d done a similar move in training that week, and it’s a great feeling when it comes off during a game – especially in such an important game. We’d let them back into the game quite sloppily, and it really helped to calm the nerves to score again just before half-time.

Had you heard Carrow Road louder?
It was really loud that day. Each goal created such a big noise. I think the only time I heard it louder that season was against Derby later in the season when Simeon Jackson got his hat-trick. But last-minute winners always make the biggest noise at home, and we scored a few that season! But you just knew during the Ipswich game the crowd were having a brilliant time, especially after Wes put the fourth in.

What was better – the performance or the glorious moustache you were sporting for Movember that day?
Probably the ’tache! It was only beforehand, when we’d seen the big microphone, that I had the idea. I said to Michael Nelson that if we scored we’ll have to do the ’tache celebration. But one thing you can’t actually see on the celebration is that when I do the spin and everyone piles in, I started to panic because the cable ends up getting tied around my legs and I’m just thinking ‘do not fall over when you come out of this. Don not fall over!’. I spun around because I wanted everyone to see it, but I nearly regretted it!

What’s your favourite memory from that game?
Wes scoring. He’d played so well all game, and had a shot just before that hadn’t gone in and if anyone deserves to score it was him. He’d been unbelievable in the game, and it was a great moment when he scored and did his little roly-poly in the corner.

How did you celebrate the win?
I think it was at home with the family actually. When you win a derby and you come off afterwards, it’s actually more of a relief than a celebration. You’ve done it, you’ve got the plaudits and everyone can go and brag. It’s more like you let all the fans go and celebrate and you just feel relieved.

Move forward six months to April, and the second derby game of the season at Portman Road. You’re 2-0 up after 20 minutes – how did that affect the home crowd?
It was great for us! But 15 minutes in we only had about half of our fans in the ground because of something happening outside I think. So by the time they all got in we were already 2-0 up and everyone was singing and dancing and we didn’t hear an Ipswich fan in the crowd saying anything!

So there were no nerves going into this one?
Not at all. We were looking forward to it. We knew if we won that it would be a massive three points for us before everyone else had played. We knew we were good enough to go there and get three points, and we knew we were good enough to get promoted, we knew we would set a massive marker to everyone around us.

You didn’t score that day… what went wrong?!
I played all right in the game! I just couldn’t get one. Jimmy Bullard scored an absolute screamer for them to make it 3-1, and we felt that wasn’t deserved so we started playing even better for the last 10 minutes and I remember Dani Pacheco scoring a great goal after I’d come off.

What impact did that have on the rest of the season? You beat Derby in the very next game in injury time…
Yes, it had a big impact. We took real heart because we’d played so well, and that sort of belief really helped in the last 15 minutes against Derby County.

Which game did you enjoy the most – Carrow Road or Portman Road?
Probably Portman Road. Even though I didn’t score. There’s nothing better than going to an away ground and winning. Especially going to an away ground under lights. When you’re under floodlights and you’re winning 5-1 and getting olés it doesn’t get much better. That’s all right, that.

This interview first appeared in an edition of OTBC, Norwich City’s official matchday programme. Subscribe HERE


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