Ex-City midfielder reveals attempted burglary of his house – which prompted him to use his army training
PA Archive/PA Images
Former Norwich City midfielder and coach Gary Holt has revealed he chased burglars out of his home in Scotland in the past, following the burglary of Brendan Rodgers’ house after his Celtic exit.
The 46-year-old, now manager of Scottish Premiership side Livingston, has spoken about his past experience after the outrage caused by the burglary – which prompted the former British Army cook to use some of his combat training.
Rodgers’ wife and six-year-old daughter reportedly had to barricade themselves in the bathroom of their home in Glasgow on Wednesday of last week, soon after the former Liverpool boss had left the Hoops to become manager of Premier League side Leicester City.
Holt made 182 appearances for Norwich during his playing days, between 2001 and 2005, and after spells at Nottingham Forest, Wycombe and Colchester finished his playing days at Lowestoft, before becoming an academy coach at City.
He was appointed Falkirk manager in April 2013 but dealt with a difficult situation in the summer of 2014, as a return to Norwich to be a first-team coach under Neil Adams loomed in the summer of 2014.
“The Holt family had just moved into their new house in Ayrshire,” the former Scotland midfielder told the Daily Record. “A newspaper had carried the story that I was down in Norwich trying to negotiate a switch to England.
“It was the cue for some local burglars to break into my residence in the early hours of the morning, safe in the knowledge there wouldn’t be anyone home. They were wrong.
“My wife Lisa and young son were sleeping but I wasn’t down south and I sat up in bed after hearing a loud bang in the kitchen.
“We’d bought a canary and it was in a large cage but the thieves had knocked it over as they clambered in through a window. I could hear the commotion and my army training kicked in.
“I was now in full commando mode as I shouted out that I was coming down the stairs in 30 seconds and if anyone was there by then they were getting it.
“They made a bolt for the door and I pulled on a pair of trainers and chased the two scumbags down the street as Lisa phoned the police.
“This was an adrenaline-fuelled race and I was gaining ground on them when I came to my senses.
“Suddenly it kicked in that it was madness. My priority was to safeguard the family so I gave up the pursuit.
“All of these memories came back to me this week with the news Brendan Rodgers had his home raided while his wife and step-daughter were sleeping.
“Again the advert had been placed for a home which the robbers believed would be empty as the man of the house was down south at his new job in Leicester.
“It’s an occupational hazard for people in sport that their whereabouts are often reported in the media and those with a criminal intent believe they’ve got an open house from which to plunder.”
It has since emerged that one of the burglars took a photograph of him in a mask in front of a family photo in Rodgers’ home, seemingly to boost to Celtic fans who were angry that their manager had chosen a job with England over continued success with the Glasgow giants.
Holt continued: “What appears to be the case with Rodgers is that there was an intent to steal some of the medals and memorabilia which he’d collected during his spell in Glasgow.
“That in itself is a truly sinister aspect of the terrifying nightmare his family had to endure.
“A home should be a sanctuary, a place of security where you should be able to switch off and believe your safety is something which can be taken for granted.
“Sadly, there is an underbelly within society who have no regard for the trauma which can be lasting after the sort of experience the Rodgers family have been through.
“When we were broken into the canary cage had opened and the bird flew out of the window.
“He’d taken his chance for freedom but my 18-month-old son was left devastated.
“Now we have the trend where morons are throwing bottles, coins and even entering the field of play to try to attack players.”
Holt’s Livingston side currently sit ninth in the Scottish Premiership after shaking off a poor run of form with two wins in their last three matches.
This weekend has been dominated by controversy with pitch invaders confronting players though, with Rangers’ defender James Tavernier confronted during a 1-1 draw at Hibs on Friday and Jack Grealish punched by a Birmingham fan during Aston Villa’s 1-0 derby win at St Andrew’s on Sunday.
It all brought back memories of Colchester’s famous 7-1 win at Norwich in August 2009, when Holt was a player-coach for the visitors.
“We saw another idiot shame Scottish football at Easter Road on Friday night and again it triggered a flashback from the time I returned to Norwich with Colchester as player-coach,” he continued.
“The Canaries had been relegated the previous season and it was their first game in League One but our Colchester side, bossed by future Norwich gaffer Paul Lambert, thumped them 7-1.
“I was sitting in the dugout and saw two grown men race from their seats to confront Norwich boss Bryan Gunn. Thankfully they were brought to the deck by stewards before they reached him but had made a show of throwing their season tickets away. Grown men, not daft kids.
“After they were huckled I can remember wondering how men of their age can get themselves into such a state over football. I don’t know what’s going on inside their heads when they act this way.
“I don’t buy the theory they are fuelled by drink. Don’t they know they could lose their jobs? They shame themselves and their families and maybe it is time to make an example of someone.
“Someone needs to spend some serious time behind bars to show others that the consequences for their actions could be the loss of their liberty.
“The punishments need to be far harsher for this sort of thing. I haven’t known a time in British football with such an undercurrent of anti-social behaviour.
The saddest part of the whole thing is the deconstruction of the family-friendly atmosphere which clubs have worked so hard to create.
“How did we reach the stage where you have to temper your celebrations because some idiot may not like it?
“These incidents show vigilance is now just part and parcel of people in sport, on the pitch, on the street and sadly even in your own home.”