We all have our own ways of dealing with the tension of the derby. Clare Thomas finds it all such an ordeal she has a novel way of getting through it: by not watching or listening to it. Crazy fool. Here she explains why
The great East Anglian sickness epidemic is upon us: derbyitis.
Woken up feeling queasy? Pulse rapid? Maybe sweating a bit? Sounds like you are a sufferer. Derbyitis has lain dormant for a year, after the particularly virulent strain of 2014-15. There is no known prevention. And the cure will only work on half of the sufferers.
I’m a sufferer of derbyitis myself. It's especially serious this time. I can not wait for it to be over, for at least then I can deal with the outcome. Pure joy, or despair; I’ll know my fate and get on with it. Half the problem is I have no control over it. It seems easier to bear when closer to the root cause: the match itself.
I’m not going to be at Portman Road. And for the first time I'm actually wishing I was. Living in London, which results in every ‘home’ game being a six-hour round trip, means that I don’t often visit away grounds outside of the capital. I've certainly never felt the desire to go to Ipswich. So instead I will be suffering at home, trying to do everything possible to distract myself.
My derbyitis is made worse by the match being televised, because I now feel compelled to watch it, even though I REALLY don’t want to. There is a vast difference to actually being at a game to watching it on TV or, even more hideously, listening on the radio, where every raised inflection in the commentator’s voice leads you to believe the opposition are hurtling towards an open goal with no Norwich players within 100 meters of them.
At least actually being at the match means you can scream and shout and cheer and clap and audibly do everything in your power to help the team and ease the stress. It takes a ridiculous level of superstition to get me through listening remotely. I spent the entire 1-5 victory forced to listen to radio commentary in the kitchen. I say forced; at first it was purely because there was no TV coverage and I was cooking dinner. But when the goals started flying in I refused to leave the kitchen for fear of breaking the magic spell that my presence in there was clearly casting over the game. Not until it was finally over could I safely leave those four walls, a solid two hours later.
I spent another televised derby game sat balancing on the arm of the sofa, where I had sat when we happened to score an early first goal. Any form of movement from said arm was then unthinkable but, one very numb bum and a good core workout later, a win was secured. Well worth the effort. Of course it actually has no bearing on proceedings at all, but I felt I'd done all I could to ensure victory, and ease my derbyitis.
Sunday might result in an entirely new tactic of viewing. Or rather, not viewing. I have developed a new level of apprehension. Cold hard statistics point to the fact it is an irrational apprehension, but nevertheless it is gripping. The worst case of derbyitis I’ve experienced. I've woken in a sweat every day since Tuesday, nausea sweeping over me at every thought of it.
Despite the fact we have the better team, better manager, better form and better fans, the blue folk are due one. Laws of probability dictate that it’s going to happen sooner or later. And I fear it’s going to be sooner. So I plan on putting my Sky box onto record and busy myself for the day.
That’s right: I am not going to watch it live.
I will instead do something enjoyable. Shopping. Have lunch with friends. Deep clean the oven. Anything rather than spend a full two hours with my heart visibly pumping out of my chest, as it did last time. While it was a good test of my cardiac function I can think of more pleasurable ways to spend my Sunday lunch, and far more accurate methods of cardiac monitoring.
If we win I will hurtle home and watch it back, in gleeful knowledge that we end up victorious. And if we lose, it’s going to be deleted without viewing. Deleted from my Sky box, and my mind. Somehow if you haven’t witnessed it is easier to bear. If there is no visible picture of it in your memory then it didn’t really happen.
So, however you are getting through this day, I sympathise, my fellow derbyitis sufferers. To those who are venturing to Ipswich, do everything in your power as fans to get those three points. Sing loud and proud. Use your hands to out-clap the ‘clappers’ distributed to the three home fans (shouldn’t be too hard. You’ll probably make more noise tapping your little fingers together).
For those brave enough to watch it on TV or listen on Radio Norfolk, I salute you. Good luck and God speed. I just can't do it this time. I’ll catch up with you all after my nasty bout of derbyitis has passed and I’m safely sat on my sofa joyful and rejoicing with the rest of you.
See you on the other side.
You can follow Clare Thomas on Twitter at @clarebearthomas