Why Norris will never be forgotten at Fratton Park

David Norris celebrates his leveller. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121221-534)
David Norris celebrates his leveller. Picture: Allan Hutchings (121221-534)
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

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It provided David Norris with the greatest feeling of his footballing career.

The moment also ensured the midfielder will forever remain in the hearts of Blues fans.

By his own frank admission, Norris’ Fratton Park career is over but April 7, 2012, booked him into Pompey folklore forever.

Sheffield Wednesday are pursuing the 31-year-old as the Blues seek to cash in on their saleable playing assets.

Regardless of his destination, at least the former Ipswich man can depart in the knowledge he made an impact during his sole season on the south coast.

Awards for being Pompey top scorer and the players’ player of the year reflect his consistent and hard-working displays in the Championship.

Yet it was the 94th minute at St Mary’s for which Norris will always be remembered.

A sumptuous left-foot volley levelled matters in the most dramatic of finales to the south coast derby.

It was a stunning piece of quality to seal a 2-2 scoreline and provoke emotional scenes among the travelling support.

Norris himself doesn’t expect to represent the club ever again, yet that split-second will live long in the memory of Pompey fans and the goalscorer.

He said: ‘The reaction I had from scoring that goal was something else.

‘I would have to say it was my best feeling I have ever had in football – and 100-per-cent my favourite memory of playing for Pompey.

‘It was one of those where 90 times out of 100 it goes into the crowd. But I knew the ball was going in the moment it left my foot. I went crazy.

‘It’s all a bit of a blur what happened next. I jumped over the barriers and went into the crowd, I think the referee even put a yellow card in my face but for some reason the booking has never come through.

‘It was crazy, absolutely crazy, and I can’t remember too much about it all.

‘That night I watched the Football League show and you could see our fans behind the goal going mad.

‘It wasn’t just one section, it was all of them, people falling down, jumping around. Incredible.

‘The commentator (Laurence Herdman) made some comment about me being a former waiter.

‘I can tell you I had some stick from the lads after that!

‘Speaking to them, those on the bench had been getting stick all game and were being absolutely hammered by their fans – then my goal went in and they had a go right back!

‘I didn’t have any family at the game but my dad was watching live on the internet and told me he was praying for the ball to drop to me when he saw it in the air.

‘It was a special moment for me and I still have the shirt.

‘I don’t think I will play for Pompey again, so looking back at my time I also fondly recall the last-minute winner at Burnley.

‘But that Southampton game sticks out by a mile and is something I shall never forget.’

Southampton fans may point out – regardless of the 2-2 scoreline – they still managed to secure promotion while Michael Appleton’s side were ultimately relegated.

Yet for Pompey fans, they had twice avoided defeat against their fierce rivals in what was a car crash of a season.

And Norris believes the club can be proud of that St Mary’s result.

He added: ‘We had been written off, nobody gave us a chance. We were this side struggling against relegation and they were in the league’s top two.

‘The first game at Fratton Park was massive yet the build-up to the second one was much quieter, it seemed people saw it as more of a formality.

‘I remember when we pulled up outside the ground in the coach, instead of going straight in the manager put a motivational DVD on.

‘It was our best bits through the season and we sat there for a few minutes taking it in. It really gave everyone a little lift and did the trick.

‘The way the draw happened in the end definitely felt like a win for us.

‘And the fact Southampton never beat us that season was definitely a crumb of comfort for everyone connected with the club.’