Iwan Roberts: Christmas misses - and the night I slugged it out with Rob Newman!


Clash of the giants - Rob Newman, in his Southend days, and Iwan Roberts - Credit: Archant

It does make me laugh how some people are now saying that Norwich’s title challenge is faltering having taken just one point from their two games over the Christmas period.  

Granted, it hasn’t been the Christmas we’d all hoped for points wise, but Norwich are still top of the tree and we’re coming up to the half-way point of the season. 

When you’ve won five consecutive games, some people get carried away and expect you to canter through the rest of the season, dispatching every team you come up against, but, sadly, football, especially in the Championship, doesn’t work like that. 

Boxing Day night I thought Watford did a number on the Canaries. It looked like they went out there and used their physicality and tried to bully Norwich to win the game, and in the end that’s exactly what happened. 

Watford away was always going to be a tough one. It was the first game for their new head coach Xisco Munoz since taking over from Vladimir Ivic, plus the Hornets have one of the better home records in the Championship, having won eight of their 11 games at Vicarage Road. 

I saw the QPR v Swansea game on Saturday afternoon. Swansea won the game 2-0, without getting out of second gear, and I thought if Norwich played like they are capable of then they would turn Mark Warburton’s men over without much of a fuss. 

Going into the game QPR had won just one of their previous 11, but to be fair to them they turned up on Tuesday night, and had it not been for a shocking miss from Bright Osayi-Samuel right at the death they would have left with three points. 

Bright Osayi-Samuel of Queens Park Rangers puts the ball over the bar from point blank range in the

Bright Osayi-Samuel misses a sitter for QPR at Carrow Road in midweek - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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I remember missing an identical chance at Portman Road back in the 1998-99 season. Luckily, we went on to win the game when my little mate Craig Bellamy scored with a great header in the second half. 

I remember Jockey (Darren Eddie) racing down the left-hand side like he often did and drilling a great ball across Ipswich’s six-yard box. I’d made the run to their far post but didn’t quite get there in time, so I had to slide to make contact which I did, but too much contact in this case and from about three yards out I ballooned the ball over the bar! 

It was a shocking miss and as I carried on sliding into the post my reaction was exactly the same as Osayi-Samuel’s on Tuesday night - I pretended to be injured after colliding with the upright to get some sympathy, but the only thing that was hurt was my pride. 

It’s not often I didn’t play on New Year’s Day. In fact, in my seven years at Norwich I think we only had one New Year’s Day when we didn’t have a game, and the lads made the most of it. 

Because of the fact we had no game on January 1 and we’d beaten Portsmouth on the 30th, the lads decided to see the New Year in together at Rick’s Place, an old haunt of ours back in the day, and boy was it lively. 

They had an inflatable boxing ring in the place with two sets of huge inflatable boxing gloves which of course we were immediately attracted to.  

First into the ring were two heavyweights, big Rob Newman and me. We both fancied ourselves as boxers as we’d both boxed when we were younger, but never in an inflatable ring with boxing gloves you would have expected Kenny Everett to be wearing in one of his comedy scenes. 

It was all playful stuff at the beginning until Rob caught me with his jab flush on the nose, which made my eyes water and the red mist came down.  

The rest of the lads around the ring were loving it and were winding us both up, shouting that one was getting the better of the other, which, of course, made matters worse. 

We were only in there for a couple of minutes but if I’m honest big Rob won on a split decision and luckily there was no bloodshed! 

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