For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, he writes - not that you won or lost - but how you played the Game. From Alumnus football by Grantland Rice
He’s going. The day we dreaded has arrived. Wesmageddon. Those of us whose time supporting Norwich has coincided with Wes’ presence at the club have been very fortunate indeed.
I have lost count of the number of times I’ve said to my kids at a game, ‘just enjoy watching Wes and try and remember him, as you’ll probably never see his like again.’
Players like him are disappearing from the game as the move to ‘good athletes’ takes even more hold. Even back when Wes was coming through, it was difficult for smaller players to make it, they had to be exceptional to do so.
Each Norwich manager he’s played under has taken their time to work out where he fits best, but they got there eventually, with the exception of Daniel Farke who can probably/possibly be excused due to the effect of the march of time on Wes’ career. Much like the mercurial talent of Matt Le Tissier, Wes wasn’t trusted at international level either, certainly by Trapattoni (who went four years after first picking him before he did so again) though he has played more regularly under Martin O’Neill.
His best years for us were in our rambunctious and thrilling rise from League 1 to the Premier League under Paul Lambert, though he recaptured that in the 2015 run to Wembley under Alex Neil. But whilst those were stand-out spells, he has always contributed assists and goals whenever he’s been in the team.
But it’s more than the assists and goals isn’t it? Important though they are. It just the whole Wesness of Wes.
It’s the way he receives the ball, the way he shapes his body, the fleetness of foot, the impossible turns, the hips, the vision. He sees things and patterns of play that others can’t and plays sumptuous passes that others couldn’t conceive, let alone execute.
Shakira’s hips may not lie, but Wes’ do. They’ve sent many a defender down a blind alley or sprawling on their backside as Wes makes off in the other direction with the ball.
On the rare occasions when Wes misplaces a pass, his error is not the execution of the pass itself, but to forget for a moment that he’s playing with mere mortals who aren’t operating on the same plane as he is. He forgets to make allowances for them sometimes.
We were more effective with him in the side, created more chances, scored more goals, won more points. There are stats to back this up but just as stats aren’t the reason you fell in love with the beautiful game, so they are unimportant in discussions around the magic of Wes.
We may have had better players than him, but we’ve never had a player like him, and my guess is that we probably never will again.
If this is glowing and gushing, then I don’t care because what he’s given us is so deserving of appreciation that it is hard to express without being over-effusive.
He sees things they’ll never see, little guy is gonna live forever. RJ