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Simon Lappin: Carrow Road gave me goosebumps

13 September 2017

In an extract from Tales From The City 3, City hero Simon Lappin remembers his Norwich debut in 2007.

I was brought up in Airdrie, 20 miles or so east of Glasgow — and about 1,500 miles north of the Royal Palace in Madrid. So not quite as Spanish as my complexion or the song Norwich fans sung about me would suggest. Norwich City gave me the absolute best of times and, for a spell, the worst of times, but I never thought I would end up having my own song.

“Simon Lappin, King of Spain, King of Spain, King of Spain. Simon Lappin, King of Spain. He looks Spanish.”

I jokingly tell people that my children don’t know the words to London Bridge Is Falling Down because they think the real words are the ones about their daddy, which I taught them.

Norwich were the first English club to make a firm move for me. It was January 2007, a few days before my 24th birthday. You can’t imagine how excited I was and the following Tuesday after training I got a flight from Glasgow to Stansted, and then a train to Norwich. I changed into my suit on the train in a toilet — which, if you’ve ever done, you’ll know is not easy.

I arrived in Norwich just before the Club’s evening game against Wolves. As I turned the corner and saw the floodlights, and the crowds walking up to the ground, it gave me goosebumps. And I remember walking out into the directors’ box to watch the game and getting that view, from the middle of the main stand, of the whole ground. It was full. I was absolutely blown away. I signed and that Saturday we were at home to Leeds.

Adam Drury, who was captain at the time, was suspended, so the manager said to me, "Look I know you didn’t come here to play in defence, but I’d like you to play left-back". So I said, "Aye, no problem". I hadn’t expected to go straight into the team, so I wasn’t going to complain about where I was picked.

My mum, dad, and my fiancée, Jill, came down for the game but couldn’t get a flight. They wouldn’t have missed my Norwich debut for the world so they set off from Airdrie at about four in the morning for the long drive down. Practically the first thing I did was a slide-tackle, down near the River End, and I remember a huge roar from the crowd. Jonny Howson scored for them after about 20 minutes, but Dion Dublin equalised just before the hour and Darren Huckerby got the winner 11 minutes from the end.

Dion was playing centre-back, alongside me in the back four. Hucks was playing in front of me on the left — which meant I didn’t see too much of him because he was too busy terrorising the Leeds defence — and I had to pinch myself thinking, "These guys are my teammates now!"

At the finish, Dion picked me up and hugged me, almost squeezing the life out of me, and I won the sponsors’ man of the match award. Ads came out of the tunnel at full time and said, "Well done, mate. Superb". That meant the absolute world to me.

I met up with my mum, dad and Jill and it was like, "What just happened?" It was hard to process. The previous Saturday I’d been in a beaten St Mirren side in front of 4,921. A week later I’d helped beat Leeds United in front of 25,018.

The brand-new third volume of Tales from the City will be launched with a live event at Carrow Road on October 4 featuring Simon Lappin, Dale Gordon, Terry Allcock, Ken Brown and Tom Smith. You can get your tickets HERE.

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