Monday, September 15, 2008

Making an Impact Stateside - Darren Huckerby.

Darren Huckerby has been a bit of a revelation since arriving on the West Coast with the San Jose Earthquakes. Struggling San Jose were adrift at the bottom of the table with 4 wins in 16 league games B.D (Before Darren). But the A.D (After Darren) picture is a rosy one indeed. The 'Quakes are unbeaten in 8, with 4 wins and 4 draws. Darren has scored 4 goals, had 4 assists and generally made a nuisance of himself down the left hand side, even outshining Goldenballs himself last month as Huckerby's new side beat Beckham's Galaxy 3-2 at the McAfee Coliseum in front of 26,000 eager fans. The last 8 games have seen the 'Quakes close the gap in the Western standings and they now sit just 2 points shy of second place!

Here at U.F you may have noticed we love an interview. Recently I was lucky enough to have the chance to put some qustions to the former Norwich legend and the newest star of the M.L.S.

BD: Darren, Thank you for your time. How are you enjoying life in the U.S.A? Did the football here require any adjustment on your behalf?

DH: So far so good here in San Jose. The team is winning games and that is the most important thing so that makes the adjustment easy.

BD: It must be tough playing for a team far away from your family, how much time will they be spending with you in the California sunshine?

DH: The family was here for six weeks this summer and now they have gone back so the kids can go to school.

BD: What was the major factor when deciding to join the Earthquakes over Toronto? Was the plastic pitch at BMO Field a big issue? I noticed you looked a little cautious when playing on it during your ‘Quakes debut.

DH: There was not one major factor for me. Overall, I just wanted to come to San Jose and I think that has been a good decision.

BD: How are you settling in with your new teammates? Has anyone played a dressing room prank on you yet?

DH: I am settling in well. Ronnie O’Brien stole my weightlifting gloves and hid them. I don’t know if that counts as a prank though.

BD: How does the training compare to Norwich. Are you training the same amount of time a day and is it as much hard work?

DH: Training here is a little bit less intense, but it is 80-90 degrees here everyday so that makes it difficult. It is a little different to train in the heat.

BD: You appear to be very popular at Buck Shaw Stadium already. More Norwich shirts appear in the crowd every week and your name can be heard being chanted from the stands. Are you enjoying a rapport with Earthquakes fans like the one you share with Norwich City fans?

DH: I am lucky that the fans have taken to me here just like they did in Norwich. I just want the team to keep playing well and keep the support coming.

I must apologize that you had to be subjected to the idiocy of Gary Radnich on KRON a few weeks back, he clearly had no idea what he was talking about and it was a popular subject for many football fans here and at home once the video hit YouTube. I hope this did not affect your opinion of American journalists. What was going through your mind when he was calling you Derek and asking you questions about Posh Spice?

DH: I just got through it the best I could and just got on with it. It was interesting to see the reaction afterwards though.

BD: How did Mrs. Huckerby react to you writing off her chance at a singing career?

DH: She wasn’t really bothered about that, more that I said that she was old.

BD: Was the Radnich interview the weirdest you have ever done?

DH: I don’t think it was the weirdest interview that I have ever done, but it was definitely the interview that got me the most attention.

THAT infamous Radnich KRON interview!

BD: The MLS is widely considered to be of a 'lesser' standard than football in England. Has this been obvious to you? Is it what you expected it to be or has the standard been a pleasant surprise?

DH: It is a good standard here. The main difference is the depth in the squad. In England the teams seem to have more depth, but over here there is a good main group but not as much depth.

Huckerby works the wing.

BD: Since your arrival the Earthquakes are unbeaten, and San Jose has now climbed up the table. With plenty of points to still play for, can the ‘Quakes make the play-offs this year?

DH: We have got a chance to get in. It will be difficult, but it is in our own hands now.

BD: Which San Jose players have impressed you since arriving? Do any of the younger players stand out as having the potential to play in the Premiership one day?

DH: The back four or five have been very good all year and they are one of the best in the league. Joe Cannon is a great goalkeeper also. Of course, the Premiership is a tough league so it is no easy. Jason Hernandez (right, playing for Chivas) might have a chance.

BD: Did your wife think you were nuts turning down a Premiership side and 11 other teams to stick to your word on never playing against Norwich?

We decided together that I wouldn’t play against Norwich.

BD: You are wearing the familiar number 6 for the 'Quakes. Did the club offer the number or did you ask for it?

DH: I had a choice of number 6 or number 10, but there was really only one number for me.

BD: Onto Norwich now..How surprised were you that Glenn Roeder decided to let you go?

DH: I kind of saw it coming, but it was still a bit of a shock when it happened.

BD: Some people seem to think that his decision was based reasons other than the football, for example the fact that you were so popular in Norwich didn’t suit his personality of being the top dog in town.

DH: I would like to think not.

BD: Norwich have signed some good players during the summer, 11 signings in total, including Hoolahan, Bell, Stefanovic and Lupoli. Ryan Bertrand has also come back for another stint. 4 games in and Norwich haven’t won yet and have been struggling to find the net. They do seem to be passing the ball around and creating chances, how do you think they will do this season? Could they make the play-offs?

DH: They have to start winning some games, but by all accounts they are playing well right now. We shall see.

BD: I read somewhere that you have Norwich season tickets. Will you get to many games this year once the MLS season ends?

DH: I will be back over there as soon as the season ends here, hopefully in late November. I will go to as many games as I can.

BD: What do you think you will do when you retire from football? Does hosting a match day club like Gunny and Goss do at Norwich interest you? Do you fancy having a go at TV work like Dion? Or will you just relax and break out the golf clubs?

DH: I think that I would like to work with a club in some capacity, maybe working with the kids. That is a long way off though.

BD: Finally… Who is the toughest manager that you have played under and who is the best and why?

DH: The toughest was probably Gordon Strachan. The best was also Gordon Strachan and also Nigel Worthington.

BD: I wish you all the best this season Darren. Thank you very much for your time.

If San Jose continue their good form into the playoffs they will be the first expansion team in ten years to make the knock out stages of the M.L.S.



ΓΌ75 said...

Here, we call them "playoffs". Unless you are from some weird area of the US that calls them "playdowns". "Knock out stages" are how the guy falls in a boxing match.

Good on Hucks for having an open mind about MLS (or a Media flack that sanitized it for him).

The Fan's Attic said...

I guess Bigus can die happy now.

Bigus Dickus said...

I see no problem with using a variety of terms rather than risk being repetitive...

Andrew said...

He could've had some more lengthy responses. But I love how he came to play here and sees the MLS not as a second-tier league, but rather as a league building up its credentials.

Spectator said...

The Legend!

Mike Georger said...

i see you guys getting a becks interview and it ending up like that frost/nixon play.

Phil said...

Nice interview, Bigus.

Also, for those who care, Robinho and Pavlyohwhatsit are now available in the Yahoo EPL fantasy game, Robinho for the bargain price of 9.87. Get 'em while they're hot.