Following on from the Danny Ward article, today we feature the views of Robin Sainty, Chairman of the Canaries Trust, on James Maddison who we hope may be the solution to the No.10 role in our current preferred formation
“When James Maddison was signed by from Coventry in the closing minutes of the January 2016 transfer window he was a totally unknown quantity to Norwich City fans.
We soon learned that we had snatched him from under the nose of Spurs, but I think the general consensus was that he was a young kid with promise who might come good in time, and that view was reinforced when he was immediately loaned back to Coventry for the rest of the season, then to Aberdeen for the first half of the next one.
It was there that his reputation started to grow, but on his return to City he was largely ignored by Alex Neil until he was finally given a debut as a substitute in a 3-1 win at Preston, a game which also saw his maiden goal for the club.
However, with Neil sacked Maddison’s fortunes changed under the new Head Coach Daniel Farke and he was to be virtually ever present throughout the 2017/18 season as his pivotal role in Norwich’s midfield role developed.
Although it was obvious that he had massive self confidence and a mesmeric ability to keep possession under pressure I think most of us expected that his age would mean inconsistency, but in fact his performances not only increased in quality but maintained those new levels, and his ability to come up with goals both from set pieces and open play soon made him one of his goal shy team’s main attacking threats, ending the season with 15 goals.
It was obvious that he was destined for great things on the pitch, and an England Under 21 cap soon followed, but his off-field activities produced a bond with City fans which will never be broken, and which goes a long way to explain the universal outpouring of affection when he left.
James was always happy to donate to good causes or help to publicise them, but his nature was best exemplified when a long-standing City fan passed away and a minute’s applause was arranged during a home game. Not only did James contact and offer help to the bereaved’s family, but also joined in the applause during a break in play.
It will be interesting to see how he adapts to life in the Premier League where he is likely to get more time on the ball, but will not, at least initially, be the dominant personality he was at Norwich. One thing I can be sure of is that it won’t phase him in the slightest.”
To read the latest from the Canaries Trust, follow this link http://canariestrust.org/
Using the Trust network, today we get the view of Steve Downes from the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association on recent signing Danny Ward who played a key role in the season that promotion to the Premier League was achieved….
Danny Ward has just moved to Leicester City for a reported fee of £10m, an amount of money no Town fan thought would be possible for the keeper.
Ward spent a whole season on loan at Huddersfield Town two years ago, and he became the main number one goalkeeper for the Terriers in a season that no Town fan will forget. As ever with the football industry it’s a who knows who game. Town head coach David Wagner is big mates with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, and Wagner asked his good friend and old teammate if we could borrow Ward for the 2016/17 campaign.
Klopp agreed and Ward came to West Yorkshire with a good reputation, a keeper who was big, strong and had good hands but most importantly could play with his feet. Town fans instantly took a liking to the Welshman who they had seen play in the 2016 European Championships.
The 25 year old had been on loan at Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen where he made a number of key appearances for the club becoming a fan's favorite. His loan in Scotland was cut short by Liverpool in 2016 and he ended his time at Aberdeen keeping 13 clean sheets.
Town fans had heard good things about Ward and were looking forward to seeing what he was like in pre-season. Those friendly games came and went, and now it was down to the real test starting in August and the Championship season.
No one expected Huddersfield Town to be potential promotion contenders in August, and so with all the other Town players Ward ran out on the first day of the season against Brentford at home Town won the game 2-1, and Ward made a couple of terrific saves in the game to help the Terriers off to a good start.
Ward kept having good games, and to be honest the only real blot on his copybook in the first part of the season was the game away at Brighton where Town would have been on for a good draw, until Ward conceded a poor goal. A slow shot came in from a Brighton attacker which slipped through Wards hands. He wasn’t necessarily blamed for the defeat, but it certainly didn’t help his confidence. Another mistake was made just a few weeks later away at Reading, again another 1-0 defeat.
As the team's confidence started to pick up so did Ward’s, he made a string of good performances, and his confidence again shot up.
However Ward was about to find out the way usual Town campaigns go with a mid-season blip in October and November. A 5-0 defeat to Fulham didn’t help the Welshmans ratings amongst Town fans and the proceeding results in both those months were not great either.
However Town restored their form and push for the playoffs and Ward’s form improved, he became a vital part of the team especially in some matches that were too close to call. Ward had the ability to make vital saves at vital times, and whilst he wasn’t the best at distribution of the ball his all round play was certainly better than some of the goalkeepers we had seen at the club at that time.
Town reached the playoffs, and Ward’s legendary status would be sealed forever in just three games. It had been 45 years since Town had the chance to play in the top flight of English football. The Terriers went into a two legged affair against Sheffield Wednesday. Whilst the first leg at the John Smiths Stadium was nothing to shout about, Ward still had to be on hand to pull off at least one fine save.
The second leg in Sheffield was a lot more interesting as both teams pushed to go for the win to get to Wembley and the playoff final. Ward produced a number of good saves throughout the match including extra time.
However the game went to penalties and the time to become a hero at Huddersfield Town football club had come for Danny Ward. Having made a save in the shootout already when he saved Sam Hutchinson's penalty, it all came down to the last kick. Wednesday had saved arguably their best player until last to score the penalty to keep the Owls in the shootout.
Fernando Forestieri had become a pain in the backside of Town for some time due to the goals he had scored against us in previous years. It was appropriate that it fell to him to score against Ward to keep Wednesday’s hopes alive. Fortunately for Town he missed the spot kick, and Ward was able to get a glove to the ball to save it from hitting the net.
Town fans knew instantly that they would be going to the final, but there is a great camera shot of Ward stood their not realising he had just saved the final penalty It takes a second for him to realise what he had just done, and then he bolted down the other end of the field to celebrate in front of the Town faithful.
It then came to the playoff final, possibly the biggest game of Ward’s career so far, whilst the game again was nothing to shout about, Ward did make one or two good saves during the match. It once again came down to penalties.
Ward saved a vital penalty in the shoutout and the outfield players did the rest, the Welshman was secured in his legendary status at the club for life. To be apart of a Huddersfield Town team that got to the top league in English football is special.
Town fans were wondering if Ward would return for the first season in the Premier League in 45 years, but it wasn’t meant to be as Klopp wanted to keep him as a third choice keeper at Liverpool.
Town moved on and now have a great keeper in Jonas Lossl, however Huddersfield fans memories of Ward are fond. Leicester City have certainly got a good keeper on their hands, and whilst Ward can make mistakes which keeper doesn’t.
Hopefully one of Ward’s mistakes will come against Huddersfield this coming season in the Premier League.
To read the latest from the Huddersfield Town Supporters Association, follow this link https://htsa-web.com/
Twenty-nine years ago, The FOX landed its first ever interview, with Youth team player, Ian Baraclough. Over the three decades since then, we’ve racked up 130 interviews with players past and present, with managers, coaches, board members, famous fans, the son of a manager and the daughter of a chairman.
We’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country in search of our quarry. Muzzy Izzet was to be found just a mile down the road at his football academy in Whetstone, but awaydays have carried us as far afield as Torquay down south (home of former boss Frank O’Farrell) and Chester-le-Street up north (to visit Steve Howard). A prestigious international fixture had to be arranged to take on Paddy Byrne with notebook and pint of Guinness.
We’ve found a quiet corner in a huge variety of locations over the years, from the Filbert Street dugout with Iwan Roberts to Gary Lineker’s dressing room at the old BBC TV Centre in White City. A squash club on Frog Island (Paul Ramsey), a Pride Park executive box (Roger Davies), the bench at Burton Albion (Mike Whitlow) and Matt Elliott’s open-topped car have all served a purpose.
The more recently retired or those still involved in the game or media tend to prefer to meet in hotels: Gary McAllister, Steve Claridge, Alan Smith, David Nugent, Ian Marshall. Whereas the older chaps are happy to entertain you at home: Davie Gibson, Bobby Roberts, Jon Sammels, Andy Lochhead, Gordon Milne, Jimmy Walsh.
Not surprisingly, the pub can produce a convivial atmosphere for an interview, and we met Carl Muggleton, Steve Walsh and Lenny Glover in the boozer for a pint or two – or, in Len’s case, his pre-arranged ‘fee’ of a bottle of bubbly.
Having finally decided to collect all these interviews together, we read back through what is now a huge body of work and were struck by the way they form a giant tapestry of first-hand experiences of Leicester City over a period spanning 60 years. This is the inside story of the club from the late ’50s, when a young Gordon Banks first arrived at Filbert Street, right through to the present day and the Premier League title era.
What also hit us was the poignancy of the passing of time. When we think of our heroes, we imagine them as athletic young men in their prime, in royal blue shirts with the fox on their chests. And yet we were often talking to old boys in their 70s or even 80s, and not always in the best of health. But, irrespective of age, every one of our interviewees was happy to recall stories of their glory days – reliving the whole corresponding range of emotions – and we were thrilled to listen
We hope you enjoy this journey through the history of Leicester City in the company of the men who made it.
You can buy the book via the following link http://https://www.conkereditions.co.uk/product/cant-buy-that-feeling-inside-leicester-city-the-best-of-the-fox-interviews/
The Foxes Trust has published a column in the Fox since our launch back in 2002 and we feel it’s a valuable way for the Trust to regularly communicate with fans. Purchasing this book will aid the funding of the Fox for the coming season