Iwan Roberts: tale of a Rotherham kicking... and a sauna in a pokey dressing room!
PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 October 2020
Daniel Farke takes his team to The New York Stadium on Saturday to face a Rotherham side who sit a point and five places above Norwich after four Championship games.
Of course, it’s been a slow start for the Canaries, but the season is still in its infancy and results and performances will get better – they’ve simply got too many good players for it not to.
I’m far too old to have experienced playing at the New York Stadium. However, I did play at Rotherham’s old home, Millmoor, which is only a stone’s throw away from their new one. If you’ve ever been to Millmoor you will know that it wasn’t the plushest stadium in England, but one thing it did have was one of the best playing surfaces you could find. Season in, season out, their groundsman would win the best kept pitch award, and rightly so.
That was my main reason for enjoying playing there; it certainly wasn’t for the long walk from the car park through the concourse of the main stand, which quite often would be full of Rotherham supporters slaughtering you. We’d eventually get to the dressing room, which has to be one of the smallest in the Football League along with the away dressing room at Crewe’s Gresty Road until they updated the stand.
The daft thing about the away dressing room at Millmoor was that it had a sauna in there which was bigger than where we had to change. God knows whose idea it was to put that in there, but it wasn’t their finest moment it has to be said.
I remember playing there in October 1990 with Huddersfield Town in what has to be one of the most physical games I’ve ever played in. Before the game some of the lads actually got changed in the sauna as there was little or no room elsewhere. Fortunately, Rotherham hadn’t switched it on as it could have caused us a few issues!
Back in those days Rotherham had two no nonsense central defenders by the names of Paul Stancliffe and Nicky Law. Paul was as hard as nails and as Yorkshire as they come, having been born just across the M1 in Sheffield. He was tough and took no prisoners, but he was fair and there was nothing dirty about Paul’s game. However, his partner in crime, Nicky Law, was an absolute animal.
Nicky was a typical cockney and loved the sound of his own voice; I’ve no idea how the people of Rotherham took to him. Now, I’ve never been too bothered or intimidated by defenders who did a lot of talking, but Law was slightly different. He took great pleasure in, should we say, making life painfully uncomfortable, and the impression I had of him was that he got a kick out of it.
True to his word he, kicked me from pillar to post. To him I was meat and drink, I was a young boy who he could smash all over the place and I wasn’t going to say a word to an experienced player like him. I just had to take the punishment.
However, I did have the last laugh as we beat Rotherham 3-1 and, yes, I got myself on the scoresheet in the process, softening the kicks I took on that afternoon.
This column has to be finalised and sent in by first thing Thursday morning, so I do apologise if I miss some late transfer dealings going on at Norwich City – I promise you it’s not lazy journalism, I just didn’t have the time to include any new faces who may arrive at Carrow Road.
At least Daniel should now know the squad he’s got from now until the window opens again in January. I still maintain what I said in my first column of the new season, that Daniel’s got one of the best squads in the Championship, even though they’ve lost the services of Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey.
Speaking of those two lads, I’d like to wish them all the luck in the world with their new clubs. I’ve got a lot of admiration for their behaviour before they moved on. They didn’t disrespect Norwich by throwing their toys out of the pram. They didn’t demand a move, they simply got on with their jobs and waited until the clubs involved matched Norwich’s valuation of the pair.
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