As the final home game of the season rapidly approaches, my mind wandered this morning (while I was walking the dog) to what’s going to happen regarding Wes Hoolahan and Alex Tettey, particularly Wes Hoolahan who is the current holder of the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy.
Both, as you will know, are out of contract in the summer and both, especially Wes, have been great servants to the club.
What I hope the club will be anxious to avoid is the appalling situation regarding Darren Huckerby in the summer of 2008, when despite knowing he would not be offered a new contract, the club did nothing to allow the fans an opportunity to say ”goodbye” to a favourite of the Canary nation.
Eventually, the club allowed Huckerby 30 seconds of applause before a league game against Nottingham Forest during the following season but it wasn’t the same and it wasn’t right.
Let’s not forget though, that Hoolahan was bought from Blackpool for the paltry sum of £250k, which was his buyout clause, that same summer. At least Glenn Roeder, who had treated Hucks so appallingly, replaced him with the Irish magician.
Wes has then gone on to be an ever-present reminder of the dark times as City tumbled through the relegation trap door into League One, followed by two successive promotions and then three seasons in the Premier League.
Hoolahan was involved in it all and will, at least in my mind, always be considered one of the best players to have ever pulled on a Norwich City shirt.
His left foot has always been a thing of wonder, able to score sublime goals, cut a defence open with a through ball or just pick out a teammate with a simple but razor accurate pass.
Other than Grant Holt, can you name a more influential City player in the last decade?
Don’t forget though, that it was was often Wes who supplied the assists for Holt’s rampant goal scoring while a Norwich player. In League One, sitting behind Holt and Chris Martin, at the tip of Lambert’s diamond, he pulled the strings and made it all happen as City stormed to the League One title. He also bagged 11 goals for himself.
In the Championship promotion season under Lambert, he did it again and scored a memorable fourth in the 4-1 shellacking of Ipswich Town at Carrow Road, amongst a season of assists and another 10 goals.
Up into the Premier League and he scored City’s first goal back in the big time in a 1-1 draw with Wigan on the opening day of the 2011-12 season.
The arrival of Chris Hughton though saw Wes sidelined for periods as the new gaffer favoured strength, power and athleticism over technical prowess. He brought in a big lad from Rennes called Alex Tettey, as a defensive midfielder.
That brought Wes into a difficult situation with the club when Paul Lambert wanted to take him to Villa but McNally wouldn’t deal with his former manager or the Villains.
Eventually, things got back on track after relegation in 2014-15 and Alex Neil arrived, knowing exactly what he had in the little Irish Messi. Wes was restored to the ranks of the first choice and played a crucial part in the club’s next Championship promotion season, as a creator in chief, making 39 appearances.
Tettey was also a huge player throughout these years and played a role that no one else at the club was/is capable of, the midfield enforcer.
Destructively breaking up play and accepting his limitations, then giving the ball to someone who could play. Even with his dodgy knees, he’s been a colossus time and time again in his near six years at the club.
Alex, at age 32, has been offered a new contract but looks unlikely to stay, as he looks for one last big(ish) contract in his career. It just seems as though we can’t afford him, which is fine, we will move on and so will he but it’d be nice to say ”goodbye” properly.
The same goes for Wes, even more so.
He has been a wonderful player to watch week in, week out. Some of the things he does are incredible and defy belief. The goal he scored last season against Rotherham at Carrow Road was one of his best ever and sums up his prodigious talent. If Lionel Messi had scored that goal instead of Wessi, the world would be on its feet applauding.
You can watch that again here.
So, Mr Webber, we need and deserve the opportunity to say goodbye properly to a club legend. The word ”legend” is bandied about all too often these days but with regard to Wes Hoolahan and Norwich City, it is accurate.
I know you say he’s going to get a testimonial, just not this summer. That’s bad form in my opinion although I do understand the situation regarding replacing the pitch, the Inter Forever game and the rules around Charity matches etc
Still, we the fans would like the chance to give him a standing ovation.
It’s the least he deserves and we want the chance to say goodbye, assuming of course, that it is goodbye…