By Dave Major
Enough was enough. A hapless performance in front of a new manager brought a cull of Norwich City first team players, the new boss preferring to add youth and those willing to work for the collective cause. Colchester anyone? No ,Plymouth back in 2007 witnessed by new Norwich manager Glenn Roeder as his side faltered embarrassingly to a 3-0 defeat.
Roeder’s reaction was to take no prisoners; six players were effectively shown the door that day. Ian Murray, Julien Brellier and David Strihavka released; tweeldum and tweedledee (Chris Martin and Michael Spillane) the road to Luton Town on loan and one other – Simon Lappin – given the joy of training with the reserves.
Let’s take a look at where they are now. Murray is now player-manager of Dumbarton back in his native Scotland, having never aclimitised to the pace of English football. Strihavka has played for seven clubs in as many countries since his release in 2008; Brellier has retired having failed to find a professional club.
The infamous Luton Two returned and played their parts in the League One winning season – Spillane supporting, Martin scoring twenty goals. Spillane has since spent his time across a number of lower league clubs; Martin looks destined for a similar serve of duty.
And then there’s Lappin, the fans nicknamed him King of Spain. A steady performer with an eye for a cross and one of the best left foots around. In statistics alone – 126 appearances, 4 goals in more than six years – it’s hard to understand why his Carrow Road exit this week has caused such widespread emotion.
The reason? Football’s not about statistics; however, much those Fantasy Football Leagues will tell you. It’s about attitude, emotion, enjoyment and camaraderie. Lappin was a popular and consistent performer of many Norwich City squads. Not blessed with pace and one who would probably admit the Premier League was a step too far, his sweet left foot and work-rate would typically make up for shortcomings.
Having spent half a season back in his native Scotland in 2008, his Canary career looked to have ended in a similar vein to messrs Murray and Brellier. Come the start of the 2008/09 season he found himself back at Carrow Road without a suitor, for more reserve team football. No primadona moments, no tantrums on Twitter, he knuckled down and got on with his job. He was there if he was needed.
The call came under then manager Bryan Gunn in early 2009 to help in the unsuccessful Canaries relegation fight. It came again later that year, now in League One, where under Lambert he made more league appearances than any other member of the first team squad, playing predominantly on the left of the midfield diamond.
All that was missing was a goal that season; indeed missing since a left footed thirty-five yard lob over a stranded Cardiff keeper at Carrow Road in 2007. That wait for a goal arrived in his final Carrow Road appearance, in the League Cup win against Scunthorpe last August. It’s available on the Canaries web site to those who pay the premium. If you wonder how popular a member of the squad Simon Lappin really was, watch the celebrations of that goal. They say everything.
Adiós Rey de España, you will be missed.