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Branston becomes 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 could ponder relaxing on the bus for 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.

Not many people would like to come up against Guy Branston in a dark alley

“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 have seen 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.

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 added. “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 anymore and it has changed.

The current crop of Millers head to Norwich's Carrow Road on Saturday as firm underdogs

“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 anymore.”

Steve Evans’ men return to Carrow Road this weekend to face a Norwich side who are leading the way in the Championship and the Millers can do without any off-field distractions.

Going to a club with Premier League credentials as the massive underdog is something Branston knows all about from his time at the South Yorkshire club, but with the Canaries losing to Charlton in midweek and the Millers beating Blackburn he thinks they can get a result.

“It’s a huge test and I personally believe they can go there and turn them over,” he added. “But Norwich are a club who have to bounce back and I think they will be up there at the end of the season.

“They are a fantastic club with fantastic players and Lewis Grabban is going to be right up for it.

“He will go on and score goals in abundance but hopefully not against Rotherham on Saturday.”

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