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City DNA #107: Sent off for… aggressive walking?!

City DNA #107: Sent off for… aggressive walking?!
Football never ceases to amaze.

Its ability to throw up the biggest surprises, craziest stories and unforgettable moments is of course, the reason we all love the beautiful game.

The bizarre moments are often those which stick in the memory and for City fans of a certain age, there are plenty of those to choose from! (Some of which perhaps are better left in the past...)

One of the more peculiar occurrences in recent Club history was a fateful day in February 1999 when a Blue saw red...

What for? ‘Aggressive walking.’

Indeed, midfielder and fan favourite Kevin Horlock was once sent off for ‘walking in an aggressive manner’ when City visited Bournemouth on a remarkable day in Division Two, as Joe Royle’s promotion-chasing side earned what turned out to be a valuable point in curious circumstances.

Step forward Mr Horlock to tell the tale of the day his bold stride earned him an early bath…

“I remember it well,” Horlock recalled. “It was a straight red at Bournemouth away.

“We’d dropped down the tiers back then and we went to some tough grounds. We were always the big game for every team we played.

“We travelled down to Bournemouth, who obviously weren’t the outfit we see today in the Premier League, and the game was dire – one of the worst (if not the worst) games of football I’d played in.

“It was 0-0 and Jamie Pollock had been sent off for something previously about five minutes before.

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“I think there’d been a foul or something on Nicky Weaver so there was a break in play and I walked over to the ref to ask: ‘What about that foul?’

“I hadn’t said anything else but before I got to within ten feet of him, he flashed the red card at me.

“I looked over my shoulder and asked: ‘What? Who?’ and he said: ‘No, you! Off you go!’

“I asked again: ‘What? Me? What for?’ and he said again: ‘Off you go.'

“I walked off straight down the tunnel and into the changing room, where Jamie Pollock was half undressed, ready to get in the shower.

“He asked: ‘What have you been sent off for?’ and I said: ‘Jamie, I haven’t got a clue!’

“I didn’t have a clue at that point. Joe Royle came in after the game had finished 0-0 and asked: ‘What did you say? You must have swore at him.’

“And I said: ‘Gaffer, I didn’t say anything!’

“Then it came through in the referee’s report that I’d walked toward him in an aggressive manner!

“I can laugh about it now but at the time, it obviously meant I had to miss games of football which hurt me.

“I can only put it down to having one leg shorter than the other! I’m not an aggressive person but I must be an aggressive walker!

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“I can’t help it. When I walk, I generally walk quite quickly – I do an hour’s walk in 45 minutes.

“I must have looked aggressive but I’m definitely a lover; not a fighter!”

Once Royle had shared the notes of the referee’s report with the press after the game, the tale of 'Kevin Horlock - the first player to be sent off for aggressive walking' was born, and lives on to this day in City folklore.

"The referee said Kevin was walking towards him in an aggressive manner while asking a question,” Royle had told the media.

“He admitted that the player never swore. I must have missed the rule change…”

WATCH: '99: The Reunion

However, referee Brian Coddington (also a local government officer from Sheffield) still stands by his decision, asserting there was more to the scenario.

“The player was not sent off for ‘aggressive walking’,” he stated on the Blue Moon Podcast.

“I sent the player off for a tirade of foul and abusive language towards me, which I seem to remember was anything but a spur of the moment reaction.

“After the match, Joe Royle asked if he could come into the dressing room to speak to me about the incident, which I agreed that he could do.

SHOP THE 1999 SHIRT

“He asked me to explain the incident and I said that the player walked towards me in an aggressive manner and then delivered his tirade of abuse.

“Joe Royle subsequently spoke to the attendant press and the ‘aggressive walking’ story was born.

“I don’t know whether or not Joe told the full story to the press or whether they decided it made a better story by being ‘aggressive walking’, but the facts are that the player was dismissed for foul and abusive language.”

A game of two halves; two sides to every story…

We know who we believe!

Super, super Kev! Super Kevin Horlock!

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