I have always been lucky enough to reside in nice neighbourhoods; popping next door for a cup of sugar and a friendly nod and wave as we tramline our urban lawns. Norfolk is truly a beautiful county, soon to be celebrated by our very own first #NorfolkDay on July 27th.
We all know of the gems we have hidden in our far eastern point: the coastline, the Broads, medieval churches and a plethora of historical pubs. Do we want to keep this all to ourselves or promote the beauty that surrounds us, so that everyone can enjoy?
Shall we boast how great Norfolk is? Because it sure is the Pride of East Anglia.
Another pride is to be battled on Sunday, between two counties of East Anglia… Norfolk and Suffolk going head to head in the guise of the local derby.
The friendly fire and rivalry has started, and we have all been asked to adhere to guidelines on abuse, which is understandable and should be a prerequisite.
However, I dread the derby games as much as I miss them when we were promoted; a love-hate relationship. My superstitions overload, the nerves set in early and I’m ready to capitulate to the enemy forces.
It’s ridiculous really because it’s just another game but unless you’ve played or supported a team in a local derby, no-one could begin to understand the irrationality.
Win and it’s the best day out, we can smile smugly, laugh at them down the A140.
Draw and we almost feel it’s a loss.
Lose…. well the thought is unbearable (though it’s got to come at some point!).
I was asked near the beginning of the season would I rather lose to Ipswich and get a promotion spot or beat Ipswich and lose out on promotion? Well, playing devil’s advocate here, I answered I’m not sure we are ready this season for promotion, so I would be happy to make the big push next year and beat the Tractor Boys this.
Perhaps you would feel differently?
I just think we are still transitioning and we will be in a much stronger position to make a decent go next season with what will be our full, permanent squad. Our contention for the Premier League, therefore, will then be more likely and more sustainable, rather than the yo-yo of recent times.
The situation we find ourselves in presently is we have to beat those next door to even contend for what looks like an increasingly elusive playoff spot.
By being level on points and separated only by goal difference with our neighbours this game takes on extra importance, not necessarily in terms of the Championship table but more for one-upmanship; a bit like having the best external light display at Christmas.
If that display was on the pitch, we would need those flash of lights to appear in the final third.
It would be sweet to put several past McCarthy’s team but with our own house being short in supply of goals we can only hope for a change of form from our strike force.
While not wanting to harp on about Norfolk and its history (that’s normally Ipswich fans’ soapbox), I do have to mention a Norwich born hero, Lord Nelson, who battled a decisive British victory at Trafalgar. If only someone of that same name could find that same valour and become our hero Sunday.
Let’s hope he finds his shooting boots and kicks his scoring drought out to dreary Suffolk.
We may have flirted with the Premier League and made some misplaced decisions as a club along the way and we may criticise and yearn to be in that perfect place, but you can’t help but be thankful when you see what is happening at Ipswich under Marcus Evans.
Their dwindling gates, their lack of ambition and lack of investment make you at least be thankful for the good times we have enjoyed recently and the fact our club has made changes and is trying something new.
Recently we have been the Joneses (or Kardashians for the younger generation) to our Suffolk neighbours – let’s keep it that way.
Let’s hope that East Anglia will again be yellow and that we can celebrate and not commiserate.
I don’t want to fall out with our neighbours but if they could just walk under a few ladders or cross the path of a few black cats…
So, let’s celebrate Norfolk day a little earlier because it’s the best county by far but remember to love thy neighbour…
Just not on Derby Day.