Iwan Roberts: ‘Selhurst Park is just a horrible place to play’

Iwan Roberts celebrating a goal at his least favourite ground in October, 1998 Picture: Archant

Iwan Roberts celebrating a goal at his least favourite ground in October, 1998 Picture: Archant

I have to admit, Selhurst Park – Norwich City’s next stop on the fixture list – was my least favourite away ground.

Iwan Roberts - back in October 1998 - scored a consolation for City at Selhurst Park Picture: Archan

Iwan Roberts - back in October 1998 - scored a consolation for City at Selhurst Park Picture: Archant

I'd go as far to say I hated playing there.

I lost there 3-1 in the first leg of the play-offs in 1997 when I was playing for Wolves. Okay, we won the second leg at Molinuex 2-1, but lost on aggregate. The only silver lining to losing that play-off semi-final was that two months later I was signing for Mike Walker and the Canaries after Sir Jack Hayward, the Wolves owner, told manager Mark McGhee that there would be no more money made available for him to sign players and that he would have to sell if he wanted to bring fresh faces in - and as it happened, I was the first player to be sold.

In my seven years at Norwich we played there six times and never won once, losing five times with the other a 1-1 draw, back in February, 2001, thanks to a Darel Russel equaliser. We were battered there 5-1 on October 17, 1998 and after the game Bryan Hamilton gave us the biggest rollicking ever - dressed in just his shoes and socks. Mind you, I'd done my job that day as I did get our consolation goal!

We couldn't even beat them the season we won the league in 2004, going down to a Wayne Routledge goal - the game was in March and the title was virtually ours anyway, so it wasn't such a big deal.

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Selhurst Park is just a horrible place to play - the journey to get to the ground is a right pain as the traffic is always shocking around there, the changing rooms weren't great, especially when your being told off by a naked manager, and there was always only a couple of showers working. I'm convinced they used to do that on purpose to wind up their opponents.

My biggest grief with Selhurst Park was that the playing surface was always the worst in the Championship - there was a game on there every week as Wimbledon used to ground share with them for a few years.

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The only time I've ever won there came in my penultimate game for Leicester, back in April 1996. We won 1-0 thanks to a goal from yours truly, having been set up wonderfully by a very young Emile Heskey. Looking back over the years, even though I hated playing there I did score there a few times.

I guess after the heroics of Manchester City it was inevitably going to be a case of "after the Lord Mayor's show" at Turf Moor - and that was exactly the case.

To concede two such sloppy goals after just 14 minutes against Burnley, who, let's be fair, had really done their homework, left Norwich once again with a mountain to climb on their travels. Sadly, on the road, they failed to come away with any points, which is a real concern and disappointment.

It won't be any easier tomorrow afternoon in south-east London when City head for Selhurst Park, somewhere they haven't won since May, 1996 - a run of 15 winless games there.

I was disappointed with Sean Dyche's comments in his press conference before the Norwich game when he was reluctant to give Daniel Farke and his players any credit for their exploits against the champions. And I was even more dumbfounded when he failed to give Teemu Pukki any praise whatsoever, given the way he's taken to life in the Premier League.

His answer to the question about would his defenders pay any special attention to the on-fire Pukki was a simple: "No, they've been playing against top centre forwards now for the past three, four years." I wouldn't have minded had he left it at that, but he then went on and said: "Let's see how Teemu gets on against the big boys," which I have to say wound me up quite a bit seeing as he's already scored against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City!

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