Early warning from Danny Mills

CHRIS LAKEY Sunday morning kick-offs have not exactly been welcomed with great enthusiasm in the football world - but for ex-Canaries defender Danny Mills they hold nothing but good memories.


Sunday morning kick-offs have not exactly been welcomed with great enthusiasm in the football world - but for ex-Canaries defender Danny Mills they hold nothing but good memories.

Mills, now with Manchester City, was involved in one of the few post-war games to kick off at the unearthly hour of 11.15am on the day of rest when the Blues faced Everton last October.

But instead of clearing the cobwebs, it was a case of rise and shine for the Norwich-born Mills, who scored a cracking goal from all of 30 yards to help City on their way to a 2-0 win.

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It was an historic day at the City of Manchester Stadium - and not just because of Mills' first goal for his club - as it was the earliest kick-off time for a Premiership match.

The statisticians were scouring the record books when it was announced that Norwich's derby clash against Ipswich at Carrow Road next Sunday would be brought forward 45 minutes to start at the same time.

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It was a scenario that was met with moans and groans, and Mills admits that when he first learned off his early morning date for Everton his first reaction was pretty much the same.

"Definitely," said the England defender. "When you've been playing 10 or 12 years, and for some people longer than that, you get used to a certain routine and you have certain habits before a game.

"You might have your breakfast at a certain time, go for a walk and then go in. But then when you're game is three and a half hours earlier than usual you have to bring things forward and, yes, it does affect your system.

"Most mornings you get used to having your breakfast at 9am and then all of a sudden you have to get up an hour earlier and it messes with your body clock.

"A lot of players are particular about what they eat before a game and I can tell you, eating pasta at eight o'clock in the morning is probably the least enjoyable thing I can think of.

"I don't know too many players who even like 12 o'clock kick-offs - most prefer 2pm onwards because it doesn't affect their build-up."

Mills does recall similarly early starts - back in his days as a youth team player at Norwich.

"We used to have 11.15 kick-offs then and we'd have to get up at some very early hours to travel to games," he recalled.

His most recent experience was softened by his goal - only the seventh of a career that to date has stretched over 11 years - and the fact that Manchester City won, making a judgement on the effect of the early start difficult to call.

"The goal was such a rarity it's hard to forget," he laughed. "It's something I've done in training and it just happened to come off in the game. It was just my day.

"As for the match, it's difficult to say if the kick-off time had an effect on us because we won the game and we were happy. Everton would probably argue differently.

"The fortunate thing was that the fans didn't have to travel far - Everton is not too far away but if it had been City against, say, Portsmouth, it would have been a different kettle of fish."

Mills' advice to City is simple: plan ahead.

"I think we trained slightly earlier - and bed time was earlier," he said. "You just have to plan ahead and two or three days in advance you should be getting to bed earlier and getting the right amount of sleep."

It's getting on for eight years since Mills left Carrow Road for Charlton - going on to Leeds and Middlesbrough before settling at Manchester City - but that won't affect his loyalties come next Sunday.

"Obviously I hope Norwich win," he said. "Derby games are always fiery affairs so let's hope this one is no different. Obviously it will be a full house and I hope Norwich give the majority of fans in there something to cheer about."

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