Paul McVeigh

THE SHIRT OF SHIRTS

14

Apr 18

40

Last time out I wrote about how I was clearing out all of the shirts that I’ve collected throughout my career in professional football.

They once all meant a lot to me for a variety of reasons but the fact that I have managed to live my life in recent years with them all bagged up and forgotten in the attic suggests I really don’t need to have them around anymore.

Some have already found new homes. Whilst others are waiting to find theirs.

One in particular, which holds fonder moments for me than most, is the shirt I wore for Norwich City in the Division One Play Off Final at the end of the 2001/02 season.

It came at the end of a tumultuous season for both the club and me.

Norwich started it with a 4-0 defeat at Millwall whilst I was nowhere near the first team as Nigel Worthington had already told me I wasn’t in his plans and could move on if another club came in for me.

He might have thought that. But I had other ideas. I wanted to prove him wrong.

I got a chance to do just that in only our second match of the season. Chris Llewellyn came off injured whilst another new signing, Marc Libbra, wasn’t fully match fit which meant he had to start on the bench.

Alongside me.

It wasn’t the best of games. Especially when Chris Llewellyn had to be carried off with a broken checkbone. Okay, so it was a battlefield promotion and I was only benefitting because all of those ahead of me in Worthy’s pecking order were out. But it was a chance and I was going to make the most of it.

The game changed when Iwan Roberts also had to come off. Marc Libbra replaced him and, within thirty seconds, scored a worldy on his debut, one that everyone remembers.

At my expense really because I got our second on 90 minutes after Phil Mulryne set me up.

It was the spark that ignited a great season for me. 37 league starts and 10 goals scored as I formed a great strike partnership with Iwan.

We won five of our last seven games to sneak into sixth place and the play offs. I scored in three of them, including a late winner at Bradford and the second in a crucial win at Barnsley.

When I scored in our 3-1 win over Wolves in the play-off semi final, it was one of the best feelings I’d ever had in football.

That is until I walked onto the pitch at Cardiff prior to the final against Birmingham. What an occasion, what a day and what an atmosphere. Unbelievable. I’d gone from being the unwanted man to the starting striker in the biggest club match in the football world.

The fact we lost on the day was, of course, hugely disappointing. Iwan thought he’d won it for us with his goal, that the ‘golden goal’ rule applied in that match.

We lost on penalties. I wasn’t down to take one as Daryl Sutych had come on for me but that didn’t make the defeat any easier to take.

Yet I look back on that day a little differently now.

It was an amazing end to a season which, for both myself and the club, acted as a catalyst for bigger and better things to come.

We narrowly missed out the following season but I ended it as Norwich’s leading goalscorer.

The season after that saw us win the Division One title. I featured in all but two of our 46 league fixtures and scored five goals. Then, just three months after we celebrated that title win, I scored in front of nearly 68,000 people at Old Trafford.

Not bad for the man who Worthy wanted out.

Yet when I look back at my career, the Play Off Final is still the match that resonates with me the most.

I’ve still, you won’t be surprised to hear, got my shirt from that game.

For now, anyway because I’m going to give it away to one of the readers of this blog today at the Norwich City v Cardiff City game.

To have a chance of winning it, all you have to do is RT and Like it if you’re on Twitter or if you’re on LinkedIn then Like it and Share it on that platform.

I’ll let you know who won it by the final whistle and I will personally hand it over to you after the match at Carrow Road today!

I’ll always have the memories. But you are more than welcome to the shirt!!

40 Responses to “THE SHIRT OF SHIRTS”

  1. Dean Bedford

    Nice Blog Paul

  2. James

    Great article.

    ps Keano was my favourite

  3. Rob Wood

    Great post!

  4. Matthew Hardwick

    I’m enjoying this series of blogs, and as a Tottenham fan I would agree with your statement on linkenid that Robbie Keane is the greatest Irish striker of all time! #RobbieKeane

    keep it up Paul

  5. Calvin

    Great post!

  6. Paul Smith

    Hi Paul, followed you from when you played at Norwich City where I was born! Great professional and attitude that you had! Love the Robbie keane Shirt, would look great on my wall at home 🙂

  7. Jeremy

    Paul – I like it! 🙂

  8. Steph McCluskey

    Well done Paul👍

  9. Carl Wild

    Nice work Paul

  10. Duncan

    Interesting post and always good to hear personal footy stories like this! I also have some sentimental shirt-related memories and someone recently said to me don’t spend time accumulating things, when you can accumulate memories. Appropriate here!

  11. Sam

    Like!

  12. Kev Miller

    Another great piece Paul – did you ever think of writing a book?

  13. Simon Wheeldon

    I don’t just like it, I love it 😊

  14. Anna

    Like 🙂

  15. Laura

    Most excellent! Like!

  16. Aileen

    Glad you got your chance. That’s a memory that Worthington can’t take away from you.

  17. Steve

    Great article . I remember matching a few of those games myself.

  18. Chris

    Like it, very nice read!

  19. David Horrex

    👍🏼👍🏼

  20. Steve Harman

    Bless you Paul…promoting that winning feeling by giving away your shirts is as noble as scoring. Someone else now gets that feeling. Top man.

  21. Dorian Stead

    Great blog, good read and great insight in what must have been fantastic experiences over the years

  22. Deb

    I like the post Paul . OTBC x

  23. Emma

    Would love to win this for my son. And love reading your posts bring back memories some good some bad. 💛💚

  24. Rob Adams

    That’s so kind of you Paul! I am raising funds for Children with Cancer UK by running two marathons next month as well as doing a couple of other fund raising activities so if you have any other match worn shirts you would like to donate for auction I’d gratefully take one

  25. danny

    Love love love this 🙂

  26. OA_19

    like it 🙂

  27. Andrea Hodgkinson

    I like it too

  28. Tracy

    Great read x

  29. Mark

    Like!

  30. Brian Curragh

    Paul – couldn’t see a “like” button – so LIKE!

  31. Ken

    Brilliant 👍

  32. William W

    My dad remembers that match !

  33. Scrivs

    Like, Like, like😀

  34. Rob Neale

    Paul – I like it, I like it a lot.

  35. Chris Wood

    Remember you scoring last game of the season against Coventry in 1997 and then wondering where you’d gone to the next season. I’d become a spurs fan at 10 in the era of Sheringham anderton, Klinsmann and Barmby. Now I collect old spurs match shirts. If you have any and are looking for charity donations please let me know. Happy to donate to charity of your choice. Enjoy reading the blogs, I’ll be 40 soon so sure they’ll inspire me.

  36. Paul hubbard

    I like it more!

  37. Kevin Shepherd

    Hi I have read this article I don’t know if this is a blog and don’t know how to like it but I really enjoyed reading the article about the shirts and if this gets me entry into your competition then I’m very grateful.
    Regards.
    Kevin Shepherd.

  38. Des

    Great article 👍

  39. Scott Burrell

    Great post and long may your post football career continue.

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