Things we sort of learned - QPR (h)

Last day of the season, against QUEUE-POO-AWWW. Which sums up the game quite well actually. But if you need more, everyone has a say about the last game including Ruddy, Trestle tables and WW2 blankets. For the last time...

The Iceman Goeth
So, goodbye big man. Iceman. I’m not ashamed to admit I had rheumy eyes at several points today. I absolutely never actually cried properly though. No. 

Today was classic era John Ruddy. Solid, dependable, and he pulled off a blinding save at the end of the first half. 

We form a close bond with our goalkeepers. By the nature of their position they are up close to the fans all the time. We literally have their back, and they in turn have ours. They can save us from what seems inevitable despair by pulling off a great save and stopping what seemed a certain goal. It’s not as glamorous as banging in a hattrick at the other end, but somehow over time it seeps more deeply into us, a feeling of security and safeness and we feel strongly for them because of it.

As a club our best eras have always coincided with when we’ve had a long-term custodian between the sticks. Here are the appearance and longevity (1st team debut to leaving) statistics from those ‘keepers:

Keelan         - 673 appearances in 17 years
Gunn         - 477 appearances in 12 years
Nethercott     - 416 appearances in 12 years
Woods         - 267 appearances in 5 years
Kennon        - 255 appearances in 5 years
Ruddy        - 243 appearances in 7 years
Green         - 241 appearances in 7 years

Nethercott, Kennon & Keelan were all (in the latter’s case, only just) before my time attending FCR. Since then, 1981, we’ve had four ‘keepers who have woven themselves into the fabric of the club. Namely; Chris Woods, Bryan Gunn, Robert Green and now John Ruddy. Good company to be (goal) keeping.

Ruddy can claim to have been a key part of one of the most exciting periods in our history. He’s also one of only two Norwich ‘keepers to have won at Wembley. Was he as good as the rest? That’s subjective, and do you know what? It doesn’t really matter, so I’m not going to get into that.

John Ruddy, like the others has been our rock, the go to guy, the one who has saved us on so many occasions. The last line of defence who, against the odds, stopped us from conceding. Mr Dependable, a reassuring presence. 

Thank you John. We’ll miss you. Farewell Big Man, farewell. RJ.

Bazza Bizzle
Ah, the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy. I’m a big fan of the Player of the Season award, as I wrote about on this very site last year. Trestle table, a sponsor’s pop-up banner blowing over in the wind, it’s all just quite lovely. 

I failed to predict this year’s top three quite spectacularly, but simultaneously was not disappointed. Ivo Pinto’s tweet thanking supporters for being the ‘third best player’ this season was super sweet and a reminder that the players do care about these things.

Jonny Howson had my vote for his consistency and quality throughout the season, but he couldn’t make it two in a row. Instead, lovely little Wessi was awarded the trophy that comes in at two-thirds of his height. This was one of those awards not just for the season in question, which I don’t think has been Wes’ best, but for being so completely wonderful over a sustained number of years. 

With his heir apparent Alex Pritchard finishing the season as comfortably the best player in the team, Wes may have no more opportunities to win the big prize. But this was a thank you to him, for the genius, for the times he ran until there was no energy left, for being our Wes. The man who got better with age.  ZW.

Brrr
This time roughly two years ago, we were double fist-pumping to a non-existent techno beat as Redmond slipped in Jerome to finish off Ipswich Town's nibble at the big league. Not only was the football near perfection that day, it was utterly roasting, as all last games of the seasons should be.  You go full circle. Shorts in August, scarfs in Jan, shorts in May.  

Well...! Christ alive, it was cold yesterday.

There were children huddled into Mother's and Father armpits, there were old people pulling out WW2 levels of blankets and I found out my newish coat was ridiculously inadequate against a South Stand wind. Such a shame. I wanted to wipe my brow during the farewell loop of the pitch, not my eyes. JR

GHOULS GHOULS GHOULS
Our attacking play on Sunday was quite simply beautiful. Going forwards we are the Gisele Bundchen of the Championship

Ok, it is the last game of season and we were playing Queens Park Rubbish, but all those little flicks and tricks, back-heels, chipped passes as well as four more goals taking us to fifty five at home -more than many teams scored in total. 

People have said this is a season to forget. I'm not so sure. Because at home we've been treated to something quite special. Nine times we've scored three or more. Fifteen home wins. Only four defeats. That's better than the Champions-by-default, Newcastle.

Shame defensively, we are the the Shrek of the Championship. And had to play those darned away games. CT

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Thank you to everyone who supported The Little Yellow Bird Project this year - we will be back for the new season with a new look LYBP.