Cult Hero: Adam Drury
Fernando Derveld. Paul Heckingbottom. Michael Rose. Jim Brennan. Mo Camara. Ryan Bertrand. Simon Charlton. Marc Tierney. Ian Murray. Patrick Boyle. Kieran Gibbs. Rhoys Wiggins. Steven Smith. All have come, played and gone (except Tierney) in the time that Drury has spent in Norwich. In time of upheaval, of promotion, relegation, near administration and promotion again, Drury has been a constant. An anchor around which the Norwich defence has evolved. And next week he gets his richly deserved testimonial.
Just look at the changes he’s seen in his time here. In his debut he played in defence with Fleming, Mackay and Sutch. Daryl Sutch. Up front we had Paul Peschisolido. Zema Abbey was on the bench. Adrian Forbes was playing. This is how long ago he started playing for us.
It was March 2001 that Adam joined us with the glowing recommendation from Barry Fry that we’d just signed “the best defender outside the Premier League”. It didn’t take us long to realise that, for once, this wasn’t just bluster. Drury came in and quickly took a hold on the left back spot that he kept for a decade. The defence changed, the goalkeeper changed, but there he was, dependable as ever.
Andy Marshall changed to Rob Green to Paul Gallagher to David Marshall to a bunch of rubbish loanees, to Forster and Ruddy. Opposite him you had Nedergaard, Kenton, Edworthy, Helveg, Louis-Jean, Jurgen Colin (even him), Otsemobor and Russell Martin, and I’m still probably forgetting players. Mackay and Fleming turned into Doherty and Shackell, and then some others, and then a few others, and some loans, and so on. All of them had Drury.
So what does it say about a player who’s able to withstand so much change? Huckerby calls him the best one-on-one defender he’s ever played with and it’s easy to see why. From day one he locked down the left back spot, comfortable and composed in defence and able to join in attacks. When Hucks joined he had to worry about the attacking bit less and the defending bit more, but it still worked. He was rewarded for his mature, solid performances with the captaincy, a bit of a blessing and a curse. While he no doubt deserved the honour and he led by example, there was no doubting that at times he suffered from trying too hard, from trying to take on too much. As ever, he was at his best when he was out of the spotlight – he’s never been one for gobbling up press attention or talking himself up. He lets his game do the talking.
As time wore on in the Championship, injuries got to him a bit, and for a good 18 months he was in and out of the team. Norwich made do with a number of loanees, most notably Mo Camara and Ryan Bertrand who showed the kind of promise that has him deputising for Ashley Cole these days. But of course, Drury came back and he once again reclaimed the spot as his own.
It’s always been my contention that the development and success of our diamond has been based on excellent fullbacks, because they’re asked to do the job of two men. They’re made to defend without as much cover from the wide midfielders, and they’re asked to get forward and support attacks. Good fullbacks have been the staple of the diamond, and when Lambert came in, he had one. The other was Jon Otsemobor. It didn’t take long for him to go and Russell Martin to come in, and in that pair, he had two fullbacks he could trust.
Martin was pretty similar to Drury when it came down to it. Completely solid and reliable, good in one on one situations, happy to support going forward and someone that others players would trust in a battle. These players ran up and down the touchline throughout the promotion years and their excellence gave enough support and stability to let our midfield play other teams off the park.
It’s only since Tierney joined that Drury has found a real challenger to his spot. Since then he’s made do with more of a bit part role, but he’s never let the side down when called upon, and when Tierney picked up a knock halfway through this season, Adam was there to answer the call. I know there was worry and wonder. Would the old man be able to handle it back in the big time? Should never have doubted it. He took on the best wingers in the division and came out on top, continuing to put in the kind of performances that we’ve come to rely on over the last 11 years. Utterly dependable.
Spending a decade with one team is a rare achievement in the modern game, and I’m chuffed to be able to attend a celebration of that. Drury is the kind of player that you want to go and celebrate. He’s given the best years of his career to the club, through injury, through good times and bad, he’s been there, and he’s come out on the other side. When other players thought the grass was greener, he stuck by the club, and is rightly called a Norwich City legend and Hall of Famer because of it. Add Cult Hero to the list.