Waving bank notes, countdown clocks and up yours gestures – a modern history of East Anglian derby taunts
PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 February 2019
Ipswich Town take on Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday (12pm ko). STUART WATSON looks back at the derby day taunts which have been exchanged.
The East Anglian derby – for outsiders it’s a difficult rivalry to get their heads around.
Not in the same county, let alone the same city/town. Forty miles of A-roads, largely single track, separate the two.
In many ways, that’s what makes the tribalism so strong.
There’s little friendly face-to-face workplace banter. There are very few split family loyalties. Distance, in this instance, makes the heart grow blacker.
Like all deep-seeded feuds, there is a back story of simmering resentment.
Ipswich – champions of England, champions in the FA Cup, champions of Europe – were the favourite son. Norwich, the forgotten little brother, brooded in the shadows.
Both clubs had their highs and lows during the 1990s. Then it was Ipswich who started the new millennium holding the bragging rights.
And so the tit-for tat taunting begun.
Supporters, managers, players, the media… they’ve all got caught up in the emotion of it at one stage or another.
Let’s start with the infamous ‘relegation countdown clock’.
Our sister papers north of the border started one when Ipswich secured promotion to the Premier League at Wembley. George Burley’s side subsequently finished fifth. Whoops.
When Norwich were promoted to the top-flight in 2011, the Ipswich Star reprised the idea. The Canaries finished 12th and had three successive seasons at the top. Whoops.
Rewind to 2007 when Town fans were waving bank notes around at Carrow Road ahead of Marcus Evans’ takeover. That’s not aged well.
Chants of ‘we’ll never play you again’ have been heard from both sets of supporters. Norwich said so on their way to promotion in 2004, but the time apart lasted just one year.
Ipswich then proclaimed as much when their rivals were relegated to League One in 2011, but, again, the time apart lasted one year.
Then came the play-off clashes of 2015. Norwich’s multi-million pound outfit came out on top after a couple of scares over the two legs. At the end, Mick McCarthy and his players had to show restraint as jubilant fans goaded them on the pitch.
In last year’s Carrow Road clash, Norwich fans sarcastically applauded in the 16th minute to mock the number of consecutive years Town had spent in the Championship.
Amusing, but also dangerous given their own club’s parachute payments were rapidly running out. Ipswich treading water in the second-tier could easily have been a glimpse into their future. (And it still might be if this promotion push, unlikely as that seems right now, goes off the rails).
Bringing out commemorative t-shirts and books after that game to celebrate ‘a decade of derby dominance’ certainly seemed a little over the top given it was the fourth 1-1 draw in five meetings.
What of players? There was Jamie Cureton’s yellow and green hair in 1996, as well as Fabian Wilnis declaring that Norwich’s high-flying side would not be good enough to survive in the top-flight following a 2004 defeat (they did, indeed, come straight back down).
Managers can get sucked into the occasion too.
It’s almost a year ago to the day that Mick McCarthy celebrated Luke Chambers’ late goal with an angry up yours gesture directed towards his own club’s supporters – proof that their increasingly broken relationship was beyond repair.
One year on, Town head back up the A140 with Paul Lambert as their boss. Ironically it’s taken an ex-Norwich manager – arguably their best ever – to reunite the fan base with his positive and inclusive rhetoric.
You couldn’t make it up.
And so, we move on to the next chapter in this particular soap opera. Town’s three stars have, sadly, never shone less brightly.
If this is to be the last East Anglian derby for some time, both sides – and football in general – will be poorer for the lack of it.