Iwan Roberts: The day I clashed with Millwall’s Terry Hurlock...and lived to tell the tale!

Iwan Roberts challenges Millwall's Sean Dyche for the ball during City's opening day 4-0 defeat to t

Iwan Roberts challenges Millwall's Sean Dyche for the ball during City's opening day 4-0 defeat to the Lions in 2001. Picture: Archant

A good cup win in midweek was just what was needed after losing at Villa Park last weekend.

The trip to the Midlands again showed the team’s defensive frailties that were exposed again the week before against Sunderland and so many times last season.

I’ve said it will take time for partnerships to be formed and for the new players to get an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. However, with only bottom club Brentford being the only team to have conceded more goals than the Canaries in their opening four games, hopefully these defensive issues can be resolved quickly with a lot of hard graft up at Colney.

Tomorrow sees Norwich travel down to South London to visit probably my least favourite ground – The New Den.

Not that there’s anything new about it anymore! It is a stadium I’ve played in on a few occasions, never scored and never won, no wonder I was never keen on the place.

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I’ve spoken a few times in the past about our opening game of the 2001-02 season when we got well and truly hammered there 4-0, but that was nothing compared to a game I played there for Leicester City back in March 1994.

It was a top-of-the-table clash live on TV on a Sunday afternoon and if I’m honest this game shouldn’t have been shown live on any day of the week, let alone a Sunday!

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Millwall were sitting in sixth while we were second just behind Charlton and The New Den was packed to the rafters.

It was probably the dirtiest, most physical game, I’ve ever been involved in and how there were just three red cards shown that day I’ll never know?

Millwall had some tough lads who could certainly look after themselves and with the likes of big Steve Walsh and the pocket rocket that was David Speedie in our line up we weren’t about to be out fought or bullied by anyone.

I was up against Keith Stevens and Pat Van Den Hauwe who I’d met a couple of times when we’d been in the Welsh squad together.

Keith was one of the hardest defenders I’d ever come across and loved a physical battle – I think his nickname of “Rhino” tells you all you need to know about him and the way he played.

Van Den Hauwe thought he was a tough guy but he was nowhere near Keith’s level.

Pat was more dirty than he was hard and there was no surprise when he was shown the first red card of the afternoon after the crudest of tackles from behind on Speedie with only about 10 minutes of the game gone.

If Keith was one of the hardest defenders I’d ever come across then Terry Hurlock was one of the toughest midfielders, he even looked hard. To be fair Terry was a good footballer, but had a dark side to his game, a side I would see first-hand that fateful Sunday.

I was on the receiving end of one of Terry’s crunching tackles midway through the first half he took me out through my midriff and I went down as if I’d been cut in half.

To be fair I wasn’t really that hurt and, as I was falling down, I lashed out with my right foot at Hurlock, something the ref didn’t see.

But what he did see was Terry reacting to what I’d done by stamping straight on my chest. As you can imagine all hell broke loose and there was a mass brawl with all 20 outfield players getting involved, well 19 as I was still rolling about in agony on the floor.

As you can gather after all the handbags were put away and everyone had calmed down the ref went straight into his pocket showed about six players the yellow card quickly followed by a red to Hurlock, who was still trying to get to me only to be stopped by his own players.

The game finished 0-0 and was eventful for all the wrong reasons and safe to say I didn’t go to the players’ lounge after the game for a drink.

I was straight on the team bus as I wasn’t sure if Hurlock was still after my blood.

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