The news was confirmed yesterday evening that James Norwood was leaving Tranmere Rovers and joining Ipswich Town.
It had been widely anticipated for some time that Nors would be joining the Portman Road club, but there was still that little bit of hope that maybe he would stay, especially as we could also offer him League One football.
It wasn’t to be and he has left the club, but not after writing himself into Tranmere Rovers folklore and so we must give our gratitude to a man who really has taken the club into his heart and given his all during four seasons at Prenton Park.
He arrived at the club not long after we had suffered relegation into non-league football, at our lowest ebb, Gary Brabin’s first signing.
If we’re completely honest, we didn’t know all that much about him. He’d been at Forest Green Rovers for the previous four years, his goalscoring stats weren’t all that great. But, as he was very quick to inform us, he’d played most of that time out of position in midfield. He had come to Tranmere to play up front and show what he could do.
And he did that! And more. 93 goals in four seasons, helping the club to win two promotions, and, of course, scoring that all-important winning goal at Wembley to give us victory over Boreham Wood in the play-off final in 2018 to send us back into the Football League. Possibly the most important goal in the club’s history.
His contribution cannot be underestimated. Goals win games, and he’s scored plenty of them, but he brought far more to the table than that. His work rate is second to none. He pressurises defenders into mistakes, turns bad balls into good balls by winning possession through sheer determination to get there first when he has no right to.
He epitomises everything which is good about the present day Tranmere team. The aforementioned work rate, the desire, the passion, the determination, the will to win, the never say die attitude. He put his body on the line and gave everything for the club, and for that, we thank him from the bottom of our hearts.
Some of the 93 goals he has scored in a Tranmere shirt have been sensational. His first goal was against Chester. A mazy run through the entire Chester team (slight exaggeration) before slotting it past the ‘keeper. Not a bad way to break your duck and against a local rival too, that’ll always go down well with the fans!
The one at Woking, where again he takes everyone on, beats them all, before slamming home a thunderous 25-yarder past the goalkeeper. Sadly, the consolation in a miserable 4-1 defeat, but what a goal.
There have been plenty of other fantastic ones too, but fast forward to his last goal in a Tranmere shirt. In a play-off semi-final 2nd leg when Rovers need a goal to get back ahead in the tie. A volley from the edge of the area, on the turn, into the bottom corner. No problem! A brilliant goal.
As I said at the top of the piece, Nors arrived with Rovers at its lowest ebb. In non-league football after back-to-back relegations after years of struggling on the pitch.
He leaves with the club back to where we started, in League One, on a massive high after back-to-back promotions. The feel-good factor having returned to the club, season ticket sales booming and a club on the up again.
A lot of people have to take the credit for this upturn in fortunes, and James is certainly one of them.
It has been an incredible journey over the past four years and we thank him for his services to the club and wish him well for his time at Ipswich (apart from games against Tranmere, of course!) and beyond.
He arrived as just another footballer. He leaves a legend.