We're getting a new number one next season. But before we do, let's say goodbye to the longest of Norwichers who are leaving John Ruddy. Jon Rogers tries to be balanced about the ups and downs of the Ruddy era.
When John Ruddy was at his peak, he managed to do something very few players get to do, let alone Norwich players. He played an actual game for England. THE England.
John managed to manoeuvre his enormous frame into the goal versus Italy in 2012, when normally, as you know, the England goalkeeper is only changed once a year, roundabout the 85th minute in a friendly versus Luxembourg, and ends up not even touching the ball.
John did better than that. John got a start, against one of the big boys. We won 2-1, and boy, did he make Norwich and England proud that night. Surely, it was the start of something Norwich fans aren’t used to, a proper, well-regarded, long-term England international.
Around this era, he was a mountain. A force between the sticks. A wall Trump could only dream of. Crosses, kicking, one-one-ones, and instinct saves. Tick tick tick tick. Everyone of his goalkeeping abilities were reliably solid. That is best phrase I can use to describe the goalkeepers at their peak - reliably solid. Full of confidence, full of ability and despite the 2012/13 season being a Premier League one, Norwich conceded just two goals in Ruddy's last six games before his injury. And that was his turning point - his injury. A cross-roads moment when his thigh muscle ripped off his bone. Basically think cheap pulled pork but less disgusting.
From that moment, he hasn’t been the player he should have been, and slowly and surely - he’s shrunk from the giant he was. When he returned from injury, he tragically seemed to had lost a yard of pace, and a half of second of movement to get down low to saves. It seems his body was still doing what his brain was telling it to do, but just a few milliseconds later, which started being the difference between a 0-0, and a 1-0 loss. His work ethic, passion and love for the game and the club remained, he just wasn’t as agile.
I don’t mean it was a flick of a switch from best goalkeeper EVER to worst goalkeeper EVER - he has never been either but ask yourself, when did John Ruddy have a Man of the Match performance? A game he won us points when we didn’t deserve them? I asked about - I got Arsenal at home about five years ago.
Over the last few seasons, Ruddy lost his reliability. Too many laspes. Too many humpings. So, the crowd bayed, and young Rudd had a go. Ruddy soon came back. This season, McGovern had a go, and once again, it was clear that overall Ruddy was a better option and came back in - but that lack of consistency had lost him his solid title too.
I met him twice, once to interview him for some videos. Firstly, he is imposingly massive and I shit myself when I shook his hand. But as I explained the tone of the interview, he was bright, gentle, open, on the ball, and lit up when then the camera’s rolled, clicked into a personality that was what was needed for the video.
Second time, I just said alright and nodded, as he was buying his kids a goalkeeping top from the club shop one day. (Not a story at all and hardly worth mentioning but, come on! Surely he could get them kitted up for free, no!?)
Anyway! Despite him being one that Norwich fans will always have a soft spot for, the time for him to leave, especially with his contract being up, is now. But think of the plus side, we peel off a load of Ys on the back of the shirts and we'll be saving a fortune for Declan.
So Sunday, its time to say bye, but the slow and gradual blunting of John’s reign isn’t the story for tomorrow or the guy I’ll remember.
I’ll recall the guy who ran the length of the pitch to celebrate when we scored versus Derby.
The guy who lifted the Championship trophy.
The guy who celebrated both arms raised to a backdrop of stunned Ipswich fans in that famous picture.
The guy who still laughs about what Suarez did to him.
The guy who punched Drogba right in mush in midair.
The guy who gave every penny of this clean sheet bonus to the Help the Heroes charity.
He’s a good lad, that John. I look forward to applauding him after the game when we’ve beat his new team.