I could not run a series of flashback articles without including one of the most successful seasons throughout the past fifteen years. That would be sacrilege! Of course, I am talking about the 2014/15 season.
Funnily enough, I did not have a season ticket this season – I was in my final year in Canterbury studying History, but I still made it to as many games as I could. That is not quite as bad as my friend from University and fellow Town fan, Zak (hi Zak, if you are reading), who decided to go over to CM Punk country for a year to study over there and virtually missed out on the fun (I am sure Manon made up for that, though).
However, when you look at my season ticket record, we have declined through the years – 2004 to 2013, and then 2015-2017, and then when my fiancée and I bought one for 2018, we were relegated.
Katie and I got together in 2016 and that has arguably seen the worst decline since, so yup. It is all my fault. Nevertheless, I am rambling again. I will get on with the article.
I loved the shirt from this season. It was the return to Adidas. I was a bit skeptical to begin with, because like I have said in the past, Adidas can be lazy and either recycle the shirt and use similar (17/18 and 20/21, for example), or use the same template elsewhere. I was a little disappointed when, on wearing the home shirt on a #FootballShirtFriday recently, Matt (@ITFCU2View – Twitter handle, always reminds me of Bono and U2 when I see you appear on Twitter. It is a Beautiful Day!) informed me that Bosnia used the exact shirt in the 2014 World Cup. That was disappointing, but such is life when it comes to Adidas! The orange away kit was lush, too.
Andy Warren rated it top out of the away kit from the past twenty years. It is a lovely shirt, but I would not place it first simply because it is basically the same as the home one apart from the colour, so I see them as one.
Nevertheless, it was a promotion-worthy kit – if only Berra had kept his hands in his pockets and let Norwich go 1-0 up at their place? To be discussed further.
Best Season in The Past Fifteen Years
I have called it that because it truly was. In the summer of 2014, Mick brought in a few players to strengthen the squad. Bartosz Bialkowski was brought in from Notts County, and was arguably the greatest signing that summer, because of the performances he put in the next few seasons.
Another member of Mick’s old guard in Stephen Hunt was signed, as well as Jonny Parr (…BayBay), Kevin Bru and ‘No Party, No Bajner’
Conor Sammon was brought in on loan from Derby too – I will not go there – as well as another return for Jonny Williams in September. Unfortunately, Cresswell left us for West Ham, but his departure was always going to happen at some point – he was too good not to play in the Premier League. Tyrone Mings more than stepped up, though, becoming influential in our season.
Another member of Mick’s ‘old guard’ in Ebanks-Blake was released after being, or at least I thought, a major disappointment for us! Edwards and Loach departed, whilst ‘Cl4ck!’ departed too.
I liked Nouble, I know he was not to everyone’s taste, but he was okay. The kind of player you needed to come on when you were winning, but not so much when you were losing. I met him once. At the end of the 2013/14 season, Dover were in the playoffs. Zak, me, and a couple of other friends went to the semis and the final. They were against Ebbsfleet at their place in the final, and Frank was there watching. Zak got a picture with him, so I went a little while later. Classic Seggons, though.
Instead of going “Oh hiya, Frank. Nice to meet you”, I walked up to him and asked “Hi, are you Nouble?!” Face-palm! I got better at it, though. I was much more polite and confident when I met Beckham (cheap plug!), surprisingly!
August was naff, where we only won once – the first game of the season against Fulham, where Murphy got the first out of his twenty-seven goals (Heyyyyyy, Daryl Murphy!). What a season that was for him, where we played to his strengths and some of his shots were just extraordinary! He is one of the main reasons we had such a good season. We lost to Norwich at home that month. I do not really remember much from it – I was there. To be fair, I do not really remember much from many of the recent Norwich games, I just try and wipe them from my memory.
One day we will beat them again!
September was fantastic, though, winning four and drawing one. The game against Brighton saw Jonny Parr score. Now, you see, this is the only criticism I truly have with Mick from this season.
Chambers is a loyal servant to the club, yes. He is our captain, yes. He was not a Right Back. Okay, he put in some decent shifts there, but it annoyed me.
Maybe it is because I had an admiration for Parr? He never really had a bad performance whilst playing on the right, even though he preferred the left. Yet, it felt like Mick did not want to upset his loyal captain in Chambers, and instead chose him to play there for most of the season. I do not get it; I never will understand it. Smith and Berra were a rock at the back (apart from the Derby game in January – what was Tommy Smith doing?!), so why would you drop them? I was gutted when Parr left, but I do not blame him.
By the time we got to The Valley at the end of November, we were second. I remember that game so well, I was there. We had nineteen shots; Charlton had twenty-one. I was happy to take the point, we were away from home and had accepted the draw. In comes Noel Hunt, who had no name or number on the back of his shirt, and slots it home in the ninetieth minute to send us home with three points.
Oh, the limbs! I was ecstatic. It is one of my favourite moments as a Town fan, I just wish I had been at Watford to witness Chaplow’s! Chambers was swearing on Television, what a time it was to be a Town fan! December carried on positively, with us beating Leeds 4-1 and Middlesbrough 2-0 at home (with a Bolton draw in-between at the Reebok).
I will always remember little ol’ Jay Tabb jumping as high as he could against two taller ‘Boro defenders and heading us home for our second. Tabb got a lot of unfair criticism, I thought. He was a workhorse, the kind of player that I like. Yeah, he was not the greatest, but he knew that, and that is why he was so good for us under Mick. He suited us perfectly.
We reached our peak on Boxing Day, beating Brentford 4-2 away from home. Ten games unbeaten, Murphy scored his fifteenth and sixteenth of the season, second in the table, promotion looked achievable, what a time to be alive!
Then, it crumbled slightly (not as much as Derby bottled it, again!).
The moral of the story is Marcus Evans did not invest in January.
All he needed to do was to buy a couple of players to push us to the end of the season. I will never forgive him for that. Quite simply pay a bit of money, get us into the Premier League, that money will then be paid back to you because of how much money there is involved in the promised land.
He did not learn from his mistakes either, repeating this again in January of this year when we could have done with some signings to get us back into the Championship.
We brought in Freddie Sears, which was a decent signing – he added another nine goals to our season. Luke Varney was brought in on loan to help, as well as Chaplow.
Yet, we fell to sixth. We lost nine times that second half of the season, against teams that we had already beaten – Brighton, Leeds, and Middlesbrough, for example. We went to Carrow Road and were shown up. We conceded to Bournemouth late on in April. Thankfully, we beat Blackpool and Cardiff at home, 3-2 and 3-1 respectively, but on the last game of the season we could have fallen out of the playoffs easily.
It is only because Derby lost that we managed to keep hold of our playoff spot after losing to Blackburn.
How different would things have been had we had drawn against Blackburn? We would have finished in fifth, and then had to have played Middlesbrough. Norwich were not too keen on Brentford that season. Could it have been an Ipswich-Norwich final at Wembley? Or an Ipswich-Brentford final? Who knows, we never will, unfortunately. It is a shame we left it to fate instead of finishing Blackburn off.
However, it was a breath of fresh air to have made it into the playoffs! We had not reached those heights since the days of Joe Royle! It felt like we had finally turned a corner and were on the up. The first game was nervy, with Anderson getting a goal back for us taking it to a 1-1 aggregate for Carrow Road.
That was a little disappointing. I knew we were the underdogs. If we could have won at home, that would have been a much-needed advantage going into the second leg! Then, the game at the Budgies place happened. We were on fire that first half, looking like we could edge it. They had, unfortunately, worked us out with Daryl Murphy, but they were still dire. So much so, the home fans booed off their players at half-time. We had them where we wanted them.
Then, the start of the second half, Berra stops a shot with his hand and is sent off. Game changer! I will forever say, until the day that I die, that if he had just let Norwich score, we would still have won that game, because of the way we were playing with eleven men. I cannot blame him, though. It was instinct, and as he said in an interview recently, that is one of his biggest regrets. So, it should be! Tommy Smith scored an equaliser, but it was not enough. It finished 4-2 on aggregate. Our dreams of a date at the New Wembley had been dashed, and another year in the Championship was facing us. We were top of the table at the end of August, but then we, unfortunately, fell away once again. Our decline has been so evident since!
Nonetheless, what a season that was! It stands out, because many out of the past fifteen years have been so disappointing. 2019/20 was so supposed to be our ‘League One Tour’, yet we are stuck in the third tier for another year because of Lambert’s bottling!
Mick provided us with a couple of great seasons and is arguably the best manager we have had under Evans.
That cannot be denied, no matter what you think of him. It is just a shame he could not achieve promotion with us, but I am not sure on who could.
Thanks for reading! Keep well.