The day Guy Branston became a crime-fighter at Norwich

Norwich is a tough enough place to go when you only have to worry about defending attacks on the pitch.

But back in 2001-02 the Millers had a different kind of repelling to do and typical of the time, Guy Branston was in the thick of the action.

Ronnie Moore’s men, in the midst of a relegation battle in their first season in Division One, had just battled hard for a vital point in a midweek goalless draw at Carrow Road in March against a side who would end up in the play-offs.

After showering and completing their post-match duties a number of the squad were outside the team bus, with Branston talking to friends and family and other players doing the same.

The Leicester-born defender had played 90 minutes and was instrumental in helping the Millers keep a clean sheet.

But just when he thought his work was done for the evening and he was preparing to relax on the bus ahead of a long journey home, there was one more piece of defending he had to do.

Branston, along with goalkeeper Mike Pollitt, turned from superhero centre-half to superhero vigilante as he accosted a couple of opportunist young lads on the prowl for some memorabilia.

“Like we did back then we helped the kit man out with the kit,” Branston said, taking up the story.

“We’d walk out of the dressing room with some kit and then the lads would leave it at the bottom of the bus and go up for some food or whatever.

“At Carrow Road they have got an open part where the bus is and we were stood there talking to our friends and family before we got on.

“We had seen some lads loitering around, but to be fair that is normal after the game.

“We didn’t think anything of it and then all of a sudden we saw a few of these lads running down the road with the kit, socks and shirts were flying everywhere.

“I started chasing them naturally because that was our kit and it belonged to us and big Polly started chasing them as well.

“So before they knew it they had these big two brutes chasing them and they were only little lads.

“It amazed me they didn’t think we’d try and chase them. We were still hyped after the game so we probably had more adrenalin than them.

“But we chased them and as they saw us they began to accelerate. Polly being 6ft 5in and quite quick and myself being 15 stone of sheer brute muscle, it made them run a bit faster.

“I’d like to say I was Usain Bolt back then but I wasn’t.

“At the end of it we felt sorry for them because all they wanted was some kit. But we chased them down and got the stewards to grab them and do their thing.

“We walked away with bits of kit all over the car park.

“I was always quick to react because I was from an area where things did happen and we knew what the danger signs looked like and these lads looked dodgy around the bus looking for things to nick.

“We did the honourable thing and chased them down.

“Nine times out of 10 nothing happened, the one time someone did try something there was lots of us stood around the bus.

“Back then things happened to me. I made them happen. It’s not something I was averse to, a bit of trouble.”

Branston and Pollitt’s crime-fighting typified the spirit in the Millers camp at the time.

Much has been made of the camaraderie during that spell which led to a golden period and Moore famously referred to his squad as the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

And Branston believes that spirit, which is generally a thing of the past, is what saw him pursue the wannabe thieves.

“It was our kit and it belonged to us,” he said. “Ronnie liked that ‘Dirty Dozen’ mentality where the lads were all a bit dodgy and shifty.

“He wanted lads who could have a scrap if they needed to and that’s the type of player he had to get.

“It was 12 or 13 years ago, but ‘all for one’ was something that we built a club around.

“Teams haven’t got the team togetherness and team morale that we talk about any more and it has changed.

“The skulduggery and stuff that went on that led to people becoming cult heroes at clubs, that sort of thing is not what being a professional footballer is about any more.”

 

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