We asked Chris Goreham, Michael Bailey, Rob Butler, Ben Mouncer and Mick Dennis to look back at 2015 – from Wembley to the strangest rumour via Ipswich and the quote of the year – and whether Norwich can stay up. Very kindly, they answered...
Who better to look back at one of the finest years in Norwich history than Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham and Rob Butler, the EDP’s and Mustard TV’s Michael Bailey, Norwich City in-house reporter and writer Ben Mouncer and sports journalist and City fan Mick Dennis?
From the firmest handshake to the best quotes of the year, via Wembley and Ipswich, and on to who Norwich should sign in January, this is 2015 all wrapped up. Enjoy. And if you disagree with anything they say then, well, their Twitter handles are at the bottom...
What was your favourite moment from Wembley?
Goreham: Arriving at 10am and taking Jamie Cureton and Adam Drury (our summarisers) on to Wembley Way to mingle with the fans. They’d never really been part of that sort of build-up so close to the fans but they loved it and seeing how much it meant to two seasoned professionals brought home what a huge game we were part of.
Bailey: What a day! Getting to speak to the manager and players in the mixed zone afterwards and then working through the night in the same bar that the players and families were celebrating in was all pretty special. Even just trying to convey the joy of the day in words was a privilege. But I think for me, it was having to take the long, solitary walk from the press box through the stadium on my own after everyone had left the pitch, down to effectively inside Wembley's reception just before the mixed zone. I stopped for a moment and just realised I had a huge grin on my face and treated myself to a fist pump (not a euphemism). For those few seconds, the eight-year-old me that first fell in love with football at Carrow Road took over – before I remembered I had to get to the barriers before the protagonists all came through. In the end, they took ages to surface, and it didn't really matter.
Butler: Driving two Norwich legends home after our BBC Radio Norfolk Wembley coverage. To be in a car with Jamie Cureton and Adam Drury and hearing them chatting excitedly about seeing the team they love getting back to the Prem was priceless.
Mouncer: Naturally there were so many moments, but I think I’ll have to go for the minutes immediately after the final whistle. I elatedly raced through the press and corporate areas at Wembley, probably knocking into some very important dignitaries on the way. Once I had eventually reached the tunnel area, I was then lucky enough to join our victorious players and staff on the pitch, which was a surreal and indescribable experience.
Dennis: Both our sons came. They’re married with very young children now but, when we met up again after watching the match in different parts of the crowd, it was bliss to share such a special moment as a family.
What was your favourite match of the year (other than Wembley)?
Butler: Ipswich play-off semi-final at home. Beating them was amazing… but seeing horses on the pitch was even better.
Dennis: Are you serious? Play-off semi second leg. The natural order of the universe reasserted.
Mouncer: The recent win at Old Trafford is a late candidate here, but how could I not put forward the second leg of the play-off semi-final? The game and occasion had everything; a horribly tense first half, followed by a second 45 packed with drama. Traditional press-box etiquette went out of the window when Cameron Jerome poked home that decisive third goal. At the end, everybody felt such a range of emotions, knowing that it was a very special day – but also that there was one final hurdle to clear.
Goreham: It can only be Ipswich in the play-offs. I felt more exhausted after that home leg than after any other game ever. And I was only watching.
Bailey: I loved the narrative of the game at Bournemouth, the joy of watching City at Millwall and the back-to-back wins at Bolton and Leeds were superb - but that semi-final win over Ipswich will be talked about for years to come. I've never seen anything like it at Carrow Road.
What was favourite Norwich quote of the year?
Dennis: Alex Neil was asked if he’d watched or had reports on the various internationals in which City players had appeared. He said: "Of course!" He said it in a manner which suggested it wouldn’t ever occur to him not to be thorough in everything he does.
Bailey: The problem here is I have a memory like a sieve… I remember Alex Neil making it clear he was claiming the credit for the win over Bournemouth so it'd be included in his record - but if they'd lost, he'd have made sure that wasn't the case. There are probably a few I can't share or put on the record either! Probably top of the list was Mark Chapman tweeting that Middlesbrough were still on their way to Wembley while Norwich were busy warming up.
Mouncer: When Alex Neil was asked pre-Wembley what he believed would be the key to succeeding against Middlesbrough, he grinned and replied: “Start well”. That we did…
Butler: “Look at this, it’s fookin’ brilliant…” During my interview with Wes Hoolahan on the pitch at Wembley.
Goreham: “Bradley, I love you” – from Rob Butler on the pitch at Wembley. When the fanboy mask slipped.
Who’s been the best Norwich player to interview?
Bailey: For depth of thought and eloquence, it’s usually Russell Martin or John Ruddy. But for some reason, I always really enjoy my chats with Lewis Grabban. It's definitely a reason I miss Bradley Johnson – he was a top man to talk when you had a bit of time with him.
Butler: Nathan Redmond, a brilliant, intelligent young man who is so polite. It’s a pleasure to deal with him.
Goreham: Alex Tettey. He always comes up with some brilliant quotes, some of which we can’t broadcast. He’s usually last out of the dressing room for some reason but an interview with him is always with the wait.
Mouncer: Sébastien Bassong is excellent company, but Alex Tettey’s unpredictable and amusing style earns him this particular title. Always great for a quote, he could have easily featured in the answer to the previous question. Alex is extremely popular with the fans and that’s because he’s a brilliant guy as well as an influential player.
Dennis: I'm not involved in that stuff now, but there's a good book out with some marvellous stuff in it. And I'd have to say Holty was brilliant at the launch: the least diva-ish superstar ever.
Which press box has provided the best food?
Butler: Chelsea. It’s like I’ve got invited to a posh wedding. The buffet features the leftovers from Masterchef. I really must remember to take some bin bags next time to fill up for the journey home.
Mouncer: We kicked off 2015 with a delightful lasagne at Preston, but being back in the Premier League brings with it a higher quality of cuisine as well as opponent! Everton’s offering was the best: lamb shank and a cheeseboard to follow. What more would you want?
Dennis: I don't slum it with mere hacks these days – but I think Arsenal beats Chelsea's media nosh into a close second.
Bailey: Horrible question. I'm not the Moose. Ask him. (For the record, it's definitely not Newcastle).
Goreham: It can only be Chelsea.
What was the strangest rumour of the year?
Dennis: Some lunatic on the message board was convinced a certain player ‘didn't care’, based, as far as I could tell, on his running style.
Goreham: That Norwich City might be about to appoint the Hamilton manager to replace Neil Adams.
Bailey: The suggestion Norwich were looking at Daryl Murphy in the summer. Come on…
Mouncer: I heard a rumour at one point that Michael Bailey and Paddy Davitt might turn up to an away game with time to spare, but that turned out to be well wide of the mark.
Butler: That Norwich were going to have a mascot dance-off on the pitch during half time of a Premier League game. I mean they’d NEVER do that… would they? WOULD THEY?
Who’s had the firmest handshake of the year?
Mouncer: I share a superstitious handshake with our Technical Director Ricky Martin before every game, and that’s no good for my metacarpals.
Goreham: Jeremy Goss. He’s in the handshake Hall of Fame.
Butler: Jeremy Goss. The man is an animal, but we all love him. His grip is tighter than Paul McVeigh on a night out.
Bailey: Former Norwich City first-team coach Steve Foley. Firmest handshake in football – and one of the nicest blokes to boot.
Dennis: The steward who had a word with me for getting too involved in an argument in the Community Upper!
What was the strangest moment of the year?
Dennis: The silent drive home from the game when the steward had a word. My wife wasn't amused.
Butler: That mascot dance-off…
Bailey: Definitely Ian Holloway's 20+minutes of post-match press conference after Millwall's defeat to Norwich. He was in a hole, digging deeper and deeper. I think he only got asked two questions. He was sacked shortly after too.
Goreham: Jonny Howson rescuing the pigeon at Upton Park.
Mouncer: It’s tempting to revisit the Jonny Howson pigeon story here, but in a way that was the opposite of strange because it’s exactly the kind of thing you would expect Jonny to do. Prior to our pre-season game against Augsburg in July, a full-scale marching band entertained the small, quiet crowd in Prien. That was odd, so I will go with that.
Who’s your Norwich player of the year?
Goreham: Robbie Brady’s only been here since the summer and all of our players have delivered from time to time during 2015. I’d go for Jonny Howson. I have a theory that he plays better away from home and so is underrated by the majority of fans who only see home games.
Butler: Bradley Johnson. Yes, I did tell him I love him at Wembley… and I meant it. He dragged us into the Premier League and he should always be remembered as one of our greats.
Mouncer: Cameron Jerome.
Bailey: Still Bradley Johnson for me – hopefully someone steps forward to match his Championship efforts in the Premier League over the coming months. No one has yet…
Dennis: Robbie Brady.
Who would be your No.1 realistic target for Norwich to sign in January?
Mouncer: Cheeky! I will leave this one for the other guys to chew over…
Bailey: Benik Afobe. Great age, should be hungry and I really think he could make an impact if he gets the chance to step up. A commanding centre-back (don't ask me who) and Steven Naismith, and that could well help City over the line come May.
Goreham: Nothing original here, we need a centre-back and a striker. I’ve always liked Michael Dawson.
Dennis: Naismith. Versatile, experienced, scores goals.
Butler: Steven Naismith. Yes we need defenders but if you can’t score in the Prem you ain’t staying up.
Will Norwich stay up?
Butler: Of course. We’ve got a great manager, that’s key. It’s just down to the board to back him in January and SPEND SPEND SPEND.
Mouncer: Absolutely. No-one could argue that we haven’t matched our opponents in the majority of games this season, and we’ve seen in recent weeks with results against the likes of Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United that we’re starting to get our rewards.
Dennis: Of course! I think Alex Neil will squeeze enough heroic performances to chisel out enough points.
Bailey: See above. I do think three or four quality additions are crucial to staying up. Without that, I fear it may only take Sunderland's improved form to seal City's fate.
Goreham: I think they will. It will be tight but I think Alex Neil has the nous to keep us up, providing he gets a bit of cash inside his Christmas card from the board and not a gift voucher.