Saturday, November 27, 2010

The East Anglian derby.

A Sheffield United fan once said to me, "It's not really a derby. To be a derby, you have to be in the same place. Not 40 miles from one another." 

It's not the Suffolk derby, is it? It's not the Norfolk derby either. This is the East Anglian derby. The two biggest clubs in our pokey, lovely region, fighting it out not just for bragging rights for the supporters, but for the county. It makes kids hate the sight of yellow and green (or blue and white, but why would they, when these two colours clearly stand for all the beautiful things in the world. Sorry, I'll try and be this thing called 'unbiased'...), hate Norwich/Ipswich, get stared at whilst wearing the colours of either Ipswich/Norwich in Norwich/Ipswich, makes people pronounce the names of these places wrong, makes half decent players become loathed because they played for the wrong team. 

I read this article on the BBC Sport website and the comments section highlights just how much this derby means to the inhabitants of Norfolk and Suffolk. It's the city of Norwich vs the town of Ipswich. People outside of East Anglia seem to dismiss it, they don't understand what all the fuss is about and just think it's the locals getting restless. But a neutral sitting in Portman Road or Carrow Road would see just how passionate this derby is, how much of an atmosphere envelopes the ground. The Portman Road fixture, despite, weirdly, being on a Thursday evening will probably attract over 25,000. It's Good Friday next day. The kids are off school (probably, I haven't really checked dates), I'm home from university and will be itching to get a ticket in the lower deck of the North Stand. 

Heroes have been made in East Anglian derbies, Danny Haynes for his last minute winner, that we all maintain went in off his head. Honest. Probably incredibly insignificant to most, but also David Wright, for scoring the equaliser in my first ever away derby. That's the over-riding reason I was gutted he left during the summer. Sad, yes, but it shows just how much the East Anglian derby means to me. 

The uproar (well, there was uproar in this university room, I shouted, "WHAT!" quite loudly at the laptop and went into a huff) that Jake Humphrey, a Norwich fan, is presenting the coverage of the East Anglian derby is something people can't understand. Ipswich fans think the BBC is biased towards Norwich. ITV Anglia definitely is, in this paranoid mind. You know how it annoys you that they have ex-Liverpool players as summarisers on MOTD? Yeah, this is 10 times worse. I only hope Matt Holland is in the studio, but then he plays neutral very well. 

Humphrey, if you so much as smile about anything to do with your side, you are going down. 

Being outside of East Anglia for it is difficult. I know no other true Ipswich fans, and when I see people wearing yellow and green scarves, they're Manchester United fans. So I shall be watching the derby somewhere, preferably in the comfort of my own flat, because I don't think my colourful language will be suitable for a bar at that time of day. Or I will listen to it online and hope that the BBC put it up afterwards.

As a kid, being an Ipswich fan made me dislike one of the faces of my childhood, Blue Peter presenter, Simon Thomas. Because he's a budgie. As a teenager, it makes me sad that a man as intelligent as Stephen Fry would support them. I've tailed off the point here, so I think all that's left to say is, come on Ipswich. We may be in a slump, but if you can't get up for this, then there's no point in you being here. We've got local, young lads in the squad now, who surely must understand the passions involved in this Anglian pride. Play well, and you're a hero to thousands.

With the inevitable likely to happen in Brisbane, bring it on, budgies. Bring it on.

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