The Monday Profile: Simeon Jackson
It’s said that a week is a long time in football, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to see Norwich cantering towards the Premier League, a mere two years on from being relegated to League One on the last day of 2008-09.
Those mellow yellows of the late noughties were anything but a Norfolk vintage; Bryan Gunn leading a horribly unbalanced and divided group to the third tier for the first time in half a century. The malaise carried over into the start of the next season with that defeat against Colchester (whatever happened to that season ticket shredder?), but ever since Paul Lambert signed up from the U’s it’s been pretty much full steam ahead.
Where then those lemon jerseys brought about comparisons with the most liliest of livers, the Norwich yellow now speaks of a vibrance and skyward mobility, and with just 7 games to go the East Anglians are very much in control of their own destiny.
For leading scorer Grant Holt, it’s been an equally plum couple of seasons. The Cumbrian has been banging them in since he joined two years ago for a rumoured £400k on the back of 365 days of convalescence with League Two Shrewsbury. Ironically, that season ended cherry-less when his current teammate Simeon Jackson glanced home a late play-off final winner to take Gillingham up at the Shropshire club’s expense. Yet if Holt left Wembley looking on enviously at Jackson, then darling of the Rumour Mill, he must now be wondering what all the fuss was about.
While Holt has gone on to earn himself an envious Football League reputation to the point where many would expect him to perform creditably in the top flight, Jackson has struggled to establish the same level of respect since joining the Canaries himself, starting just 15 times in this his debut term. Indeed, one wonders whether that Gills winner two years ago actually damaged Jackson’s career, inflating his price tag to the point at which potential suitors became hesitant to gamble on a striker with no experience beyond the basement division.
Jackson subsequently stayed on in Kent but, other than beating heavyweights Dwayne De Rosario and Julian de Guzman to the 2009 Canadian Player of the Year, it was to be a modest year. Gills were sent packing from League One by virtue of an horrific away record, and even though Jackson ended up with 14 strikes to his name it was an ellipsis of a year after several straight seasons of back-to-back success with Gillingham and his first club, Rushden and Diamonds, where Jackson vied with the likes of Paul Benson, Charlie MacDonald and Steve Morison for the title of Conference top scorer in 2006-07.
Still, for what it was worth Steve Claridge rated Jackson, and once last season ended it wasn’t long before the naturalised Canadian turned up at Carrow Road. However, despite starting the season’s Football League opener, a 3-2 home defeat against Watford, Jackson has had little reason to cheer in the meantime. Often on the losing end of a one-or-the-other decision between himself, Chris Martin and Aaron Wilbraham to partner Holt, Jackson has struggled to impress and must now contend with the competition of loanees Daniel Pacheco and Sam Vokes. The former, on loan from Liverpool, was the latest to usurp Jackson’s starting spot, but the impressiveness of Jackson’s three goals upon replacing Pacheco on Saturday suggest that our subject may have earned himself a place in Paul Lambert’s XI at Swansea next week. Norwich could certainly do with another in-form striker alongside Holt for the run-in, but one has to doubt whether Jackson would form in Lambert’s plans should the Canaries gain promotion. With Carrow Road bursting at the seams, it appears as though there may be no room for Jackson at this Inn.