A shout to Darren Eadie, then a stare – and Iwan Roberts scores another against Birmingham

Iwan Roberts celebrates his play-off final goal against Birmingham, Phil Mulryne. Picture: Archant

Iwan Roberts celebrates his play-off final goal against Birmingham, Phil Mulryne. Picture: Archant

Birmingham City – a team I managed to score a few goals past – are tomorrow’s visitors to Carrow Road in a bottom-of-the-table clash, with both clubs on four points, having won just one league game this season and losing their last two.

The old one-two! Iwan Roberts and Darren Eadie celebrate after the big man's goal against Birmingham

The old one-two! Iwan Roberts and Darren Eadie celebrate after the big man's goal against Birmingham in the 1998-99 campaign. Picture: Archant

I actually enjoyed playing against the Blues and scored several goals against them over the years – especially at St Andrews, which was a bit of a lucky ground for me.

I scored a brace there for both Huddersfield and Leicester and managed the same at Leeds Road, Huddersfield’s old ground. If you add those to the two I scored against them for Norwich, I think you’ll agree it wasn’t a bad tally against one club.

I think we all remember my play-off final goal 30 seconds into extra-time at the Millennium Stadium in 2002 . But I don’t think too many people will remember my near-post header against them in front of the Barclay Stand back in the 1998-99 season. That goal came straight off the training field and it gave me so much pleasure as it was something that myself and Darren Eadie had planned and worked on at Colney.

Darren and I had worked on this move many times. Whenever we won a free-kick on the left-hand side in the opposition’s final third, Darren would take the free-kick with that wand of a left foot of his. But before he’d taken it I would shout his name and give him a stare, which then meant he knew I was going to make a darting run to the near post. Hopefully, he could deliver an inch-perfect cross straight to my forehead. Of course, he duly obliged.

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It was so simple but so very effective – the little shout, the glancing stare, me losing the man who was picking me up and Darren putting the ball in the right area for me to plant a firm header past the Birmingham keeper.

Then, of course, the celebrations in front of the Barclay Stand.

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Unfortunately, it’s the sort of set-piece that would only work a couple of times, as teams would cotton on to what we were going to do and would then put a man into that near-post area to stop his ball in from reaching me.

It’s been a good few days for all four Home Nations in their quest to reach next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia – all four won both of their games.

England look like qualifying automatically once again, but it looks like the play-offs will be the route to Russia for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Scotland bench was the starting place for both Russell Martin and new Canary Grant Hanley. Marley Watkins was an unused sub for Wales’ games against Austria and Moldova. Mind you, he was put through his paces after both games as he joined all the other substitutes in a vigorous running session – which wasn’t something I used to enjoy, especially towards the end of my career at Norwich.

Dave Carolan was the first sports scientist I’d ever worked with when he came to Norwich. Although we had many a falling out over certain things, I had a huge amount of respect for Dave and he definitely prolonged my career by a good three or four years.

In all fairness the problem was all of my doing. I was a little bit set in my ways, a bit old fashioned if you like. Dave had all these new scientific training methods, which at the time I wasn’t very keen on.

One of those was that, after a match, if you were a substitute and hadn’t had much game time you would have to run. I don’t think any of the lads enjoyed it!

To be fair to Dave, he never did anything or put any session on for his own benefit – it was always to make us better and fitter players. But at the time, we, as players, were not having any of it – and we would let him know. He took it all in his stride, he had a good strong character and wouldn’t stand for any nonsense. Indeed, he might just make the running session that bit harder the more we complained!

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