The big man is off. Players come and players go and some leave more of a mark on you than others. Cameron Jerome is certainly one of those players that left a mark and Richard Jeffery waves him a fond wordy farewell.
So it’s time to say goodbye to Cameron Jerome. His days in canary yellow are at an end. He’s been with us for three and a half years though it seems longer, in a good way.
Whatever their other qualities, abilities or flaws, fans will forgive players anything if they feel they are flogging their guts out in the cause. Jerome is just such a player, week in week out he gave his all. Playing as the lone striker is one of the most thankless tasks in football, and he never shirked that responsibility.
He was a nuisance for defenders, a big physical presence with a never ending willingness to run right across the back line and down the channels, hustling and harrying. With his surprising turn of pace he often caught defenders unaware by coming from a seemingly impossible starting position to beat them to the ball and hold it up to launch an attack.
His tireless running and sheer work rate are his signature and they were major factors in our incredible run after Alex Neil came in. In that half season he was irresistible. He was in many ways the heartbeat of the side on the way to Wembley and beyond, weighing in with plenty of goals. A lot of them crucial point winning ones, and a lot of them staying in the memory for their quality and/or for their sheer moment in timeness.
CamJam scored 42 in 100 starts (138 appearances overall), that’s not too shabby. I’ve seen some stats saying he only scored 40 and made just 97 starts, those stats don’t include the play off semi-finals and final, quite important those I reckon.
My most memorable of those goals (and ones I witnessed) being:
Bournemouth (A) - the late winner in Alex Neil’s first game with us (although he sat in the stands for most of it). Howson was sent off at 1-1 and it looked bleak, but Cam wasn’t having it. He took advantage of a bit of uncertainty from Bournemouth’s defence, by setting himself up with his first touch and curling the ball at pace into the top corner. Boruc got a hand to it, but there was too much on it for him to stop it. 3 points and the promotion train was pulling out of the station.
Forest (H) - This was almost a ‘what the hell happened there?’ moment as Cam diverted the ball into the far corner with flippant ease and a nonchalant flick of his heel from Olsson’s pacy low cross. Breathtaking. Audacious. Thrilling.
Ipswich (H) - OK, it wasn’t the winner but as far as my arsehole was concerned it was, it instantly stopped going like that when Cam rolled the ball in from Redderz’ through ball. It was the moment that we knew we’d beaten them, and the celebrations (and the mocking) could start in earnest. His salute to the Barclay said it all. Wembley here we come.
Middlesbrough (Wembley) - We went into the final with a game plan to get at Middlesbrough early on and get a goal and in that, as he always did, Jerome led from the front. His early goal -a classic of the lone striker genre - settled us, knocked the stuffing out of ‘boro and set us on the road to victory on that glorious day.
There were other great and important goals, but those are the four that stay with me and I think will stick in the minds of most.
Did he miss some easy chances? Yes he did, but what forward who'd be with Norwich doesn’t? It’s testament to his character that he carried on getting himself in those positions when a lesser person would have let their head drop.
Another pointer to the character of the man, was his impassioned interview after the shellacking we took at Sheffield Wednesday. Calling out teammates for not respecting each other, or the coaching staff, for having a lack of honesty and not working for each other. For letting US down. This was in its way a damning indictment of where Alex Neil’s tenure had fallen to and indeed Neil was sacked a week later. Probably about four months too late. But I digress, this is about Cameron Jerome.
He always carried himself in an exemplary manner, was thoughtful and intelligent when interviewed and seemed unfailingly decent and polite to all who came into contact with him. A decent person all round.
You were our warrior big man. You will be missed and you will always be welcome at FCR. Thanks for the memories and thank you, O’Cameron Jerome. RJ
PS: @clarebearthomas WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU 💔