After a brilliant 2015 for Norwich, Zoë Morgan feels there was one thing missing: moustaches. Grant Holt's moustache, to be precise. Five years on from Holty's fuzzy-lipped frenzy against Ipswich, we salute him all over again
It is five years this winter since the most glorious moustache to ever grace a sporting arena was grown, propelling its wearer to greatness and goals, goals goals. Daley Thompson, Hulk Hogan, Nigel Mansell, Carlos Valderrama – your taches took one hell of a beating. Grant Holt’s moustache made him look like Lord Flashheart in Blackadder Goes Forth but with more devastating sex appeal.
It was the height of Movember’s popularity and the Norwich City squad, spurred on by Holt and his partner in northernness Michael Nelson, decided they were going to join in. Norwich were fresh off the back of promotion; tight-knit and happy as a squad. Happiness is obviously the magic ingredient in successful moustache growing because there followed some absolute belters. Who could forget the handlebars of Nelson and Elliott Ward, Russell Martin’s ’80s throwback, and Andrew Crofts showing that moustaches can be just like their owners: in this case dependable and surprisingly cultured.
But beyond all that, beyond the team, as he ever was at this time, was Grant Holt. It was easy to go to the football and only watch him, this force of nature, a player in his prime, brimming with confidence. Peak Grant Holt was like nothing else, a whirlwind of adoration and fun and winning.
For me, Peak Grant Holt is best served with moustache. Holt is so synonymous with the concept of non-league player done good as well as being an old-fashioned centre forward, it almost seems remiss not to remember him looking as if he played for a working men’s club team in Carlisle. In the 1970s.
There are two fixtures that jump to mind where the memories are all moustache, snow and Holt.
The first is, obviously, the 4-1 victory over Ipswich in November 2010. There couldn’t be a more iconic Holt match. The first image that pops into my head is Holt, holding a fluffy microphone to his face. HE’S GOT A MOUSTACHE! HE’S REMINDING US OF THIS BY MAKING A BIGGER MOUSTACHE ON HIS FACE! THE CHEEKY BLIGHTER! I never said being a Holt enthusiast was any great intellectual pursuit: the beauty of the man instead lies in his simplicity. Yet, there he was, running riot over the club’s biggest rivals and he was loving every second. What a man. What a superhero. What a moustache.
The second standout moustache moment is the 2-1 win at Coventry, which came just before Christmas. It was a tough match in icy, snowy conditions without the flair or exuberance of the Ipswich performance. Holt scored both goals, though, and his second – the winner – came in the 87th minute. Norwich’s ability to score late, crucial goals was a defining characteristic of that season and here was Holt doing it with a moustache, making joyous snow angels at the Ricoh Arena as his team-mates leapt on top of him in celebration.
This was a time in the club’s history that deserves to be remembered with a misty-eyed nostalgia and not tinged by the subsequent disappointing departures of by-then bald-lipper Holt and his manager Paul Lambert Even only five years on it feels like a simpler time, one unburdened by Premier League pressures and bizarrely jaded supporters. The club had been in a hole and yet this group of men, led by their fearless manager and carefree hero, was pulling it out again, and in what style. The fans and their team of ordinary, over-achieving players were united in what can only be described as mutual surprise.
And that moustache. Thick, manly, great girth. In theory, utterly horrendous. But, oh – OH! – in practice, quite the opposite. Never has a stack of facial hair on a potentially glandularly-challenged centre forward lost so many men and women in their yearning. I won’t deny there were times when looking at him actually made my ovaries hurt. Part fighter-pilot, part Queen tribute act, part wrestler, it was an entity we never even considered until it was right there in front of us in all its glory. Much like Holt himself.
As another five years elapses, and another five, Holt will be remembered for not only his goals, but a time when club and player came together so spectacularly that great things happened. And the lasting image which sums up the whole period will be of a man sporting a confusingly sexy moustache.
You can follow Zoë Morgan and send her pictures of moustaches on Twitter at @zvfm2