Community Shield: Grant Holt hoping every dog has his day

 

For a player who once complained he was too unfashionable for England, the sight of Grant Holt in an old 1920s grandstand at a greyhound track this week seemed pretty fitting.

In an era when Manchester United players invest in racehorses, Holt – who will face the champions with new club Wigan Athletic in tomorrow’s Community Shield – is an unashamed fan of the dogs. “There’s a bit of snobbery towards it that there shouldn’t be,” he says. “People have the idea of an old man going along with a paper under his arm but it’s a great night.”

Holt, a victim perhaps of a different kind of snobbery when as a burly English centre-forward he started banging in Premier League goals for Norwich City, is speaking at Coventry Greyhound Stadium where his new racing club SMGH Racing – set up with his former Norwich colleague Steve Morison – will be competing.

It is cheaper than the thoroughbreds of Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen – “They’re on different money,” he says – but still a significant investment given the involvement of trainer Jim Daly and plans to “breed our own”. They already have a Messi and a Norfolk Canary, and Holt hopes a goal tomorrow will inspire another name. “If I score, we’ll name the next pup Wembley Wigan.”

He has scored at Wembley once before but it came when he was captain of Inglewood Junior School in the English Schools FA’s Smiths Crisps Shield final. “Go on YouTube – it’s there. It’s a great header. I was a dominating centre-half then. It was 10,000 teams and a little team from Carlisle ended up winning. We were on Saint and Greavsie.”

That was at the start of a circuitous route around the football world for the Carlisle trainee which began at Workington and Barrow, has taken in eight league clubs and stop-offs in Singapore and Australia, but yielded no further Wembley success.

The closest he came was a League Two play-off defeat with Shrewsbury Town but he sees no reason why the FA Cup holders – 4-0 winners at Barnsley in their first Championship fixture after relegation – should fear United. “We’re two weeks ahead of them in pre-season, which gives us that little edge, and if you look at our team that played last weekend, most of them have been in the Premier League,” he says. “It’s probably a bit of an even game, to be honest.

“The good thing is a few of our lads have only been [at Wembley] a few months ago and they know what it’s like. No matter what they say about the FA Cup it was fantastic that Wigan won it, just for that difference, instead of the same teams.”

He does not think United’s dressing room will be upset by Rooney’s wish to leave. “It’s all a bit of waffle really and I don’t think it’ll affect them whatsoever,” says Holt, who had Rio Ferdinand as a guest on his BBC Radio Cumbria show on Tuesday. “They won’t be bothered about what Wayne Rooney’s going to do. If he leaves, Man U will probably go and spend £50m on someone else.”

Holt’s own departure from Norwich, where he scored 78 goals in 168 appearances, came at the right time. “I am just ready for a new challenge, I was ready to go,” says the 32-year-old, one of 10 players signed by new manager Owen Coyle. He is looking forward to playing in the Europa League – “it is something I’ve never done” – and is encouraged by his debut goal at Barnsley. “I have always been a slow starter so for me to get off and running last weekend bodes quite well.” Fast out of the traps is just how he likes it these days.

Grant Holt and Steve Morison are part owners of SMGH Racing Club, proudly sponsored by Ladbrokes. For more information go to steveandgrantsracingclub.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent