The tension may be fleeting, but great memories, and great goals, last forever. The East Anglian derby is fast-approaching and Richard Jeffery has already got butterflies.
Like two bald men fighting over a comb, or a pair of drunks at kicking-out time rolling around in the gutter trying to hit each other, this weekend we entertain our nearest and not so dearest in the 101st East Anglian Derby (I refuse to call it the ‘old farm derby’. Stop it, that’s not a thing). As there’s little left at stake this season for either club, we’ll fight it out for the title ‘Pride of Anglia’.
As parochial it may be, and inconsequential outside of Norfolk & Suffolk as it certainly is, it’s ours and it means a great deal to us, whichever side of the divide we are on.
On Sunday we can even things up. Our current tally is: won 40, drawn 19, lost 41.
I have that knot in my stomach already, the tension will build throughout the week until the day arrives. There’ll be that atmosphere around the city, that crackle in the air when the day arrives and you enter the stadium, and there they are. It’s time; bring it on.
Noisier than normal, the crowd will be up for it from the off. The referee’s whistle will blow, preceding that first crunching tackle, showing the players are infected by the same feeling as us.
It will be a tense day. It’s always a horrid feeling if the away team score, even more so when it’s them. In fact, it’s horrid when they’re even on the ball, even if only in their half. Everything is heightened.
We’ll all have a favourite local derby memory. It may be the play-off 2nd leg, the Movember Holt hat-trick game, or the 5-1 away win that same season as we stormed through the Championship on the way to a second successive promotion. It may the the original and best TOTLAPR, when McKenzie scored against the scum, then scored another one, again en route to promotion.
My favourite memory is another 2nd leg semi-final win back in ‘85, when as a 13 year old I witnessed Steve Bruce scoring the late goal, sending us to Wembley at their expense.
Back to the present. We’ve not lost to them since 2009, when they helped us on our inexorable slide down into League 1. Dark days indeed, especially as they were ‘fucking loaded’ at the time and thought they were destined for better things. ***SPOILER ALERT: They weren’t.***
Indeed, it shows how far expectations have dropped down there that they fondly remember their equaliser in the 1st leg of the 2015 play-off semi-final.
I prefer to remember the second and victorious leg of that semi-final. When the beautiful Cavalier footballing purists of Norwich put the Roundheads to the sword. They hoofed and headed and shithoused an equaliser that day, raising their hopes briefly, but we had too much for them in the end.
And long ball, hoof and shithouse it they will. McCarthy’s working with what he’s got and what he knows best. He’s actually doing a good job for them considering the constraints he’s working under in my opinion, though the locals are restless.
So we know what to expect, and we’re not good against teams who play like that. We’ll have to match them physically first. If we do I expect us to come out on top. If we’re not up for it, they will win.
Bring it on, let’s hope it’s us with the fond memories of Sunday. Just don’t call it the old farm derby, please.