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Opinion: Is the greatest Ipswich legend a Norwich player? Liz Nice relives derby day dramas ahead of Saturday’s clash between two East Anglian teams

PUBLISHED: 11:08 19 August 2014

Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn distraught after Robert Ullathorne's back pass bobbled over his foot and into the net against Ipswich in April 1996

Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn distraught after Robert Ullathorne's back pass bobbled over his foot and into the net against Ipswich in April 1996

In the first of our articles in the build-up to this weekend’s first Anglian derby game since 2011, Liz Nice looks back at her derby day memories - and one legendary air-kick.

Last week, one of my sons (neither of whom supports Ipswich I am ashamed to say) received a new T-shirt from a (clearly deluded) well wisher.

It was yellow. With green edging.

They might as well have bought him Delia’s latest cookbook.

Delia, well, she’s a terribly nice woman, I’m sure, but a visceral reaction occurred within me.

I disliked the shirt on sight, perhaps even more so because it is the derby game on Saturday – note to outsiders, it’s the derby or the Norwich game.

It’s got nothing to do with an Old Farm and anyone who calls me a Tractor Girl could expect a pile of manure on their head if I only knew where to get some, which, coming from a Suffolk town, rather than a farm, I don’t.

I’m not quite as rabid about the derbies these days. I’m a sensible, middle-aged mother who even openly admits to loving Norwich (for shopping).

But if you’re a Town fan, Saturday’s game has a tasty whiff of possible revenge about it (after our previous two stuffings, I mean, slight defeats) and let’s face it, however grown up I become, on match day, the rivalry with our East Anglian cousins will never entirely go away.

I wouldn’t say it was a particularly friendly rivalry either.

I remember my first away match at Carrow Road on December 21st, 1992, when a journalist friend of mine, who supports the Sc…sorry, Norwich, thought it would be a good idea if we sat together.

In the home end.

“It will be like Liverpool and Everton,” he assured me. “You can even wear your scarf.”

Oh, the naivety of youth!

Let’s just say I celebrated our first goal in our 2-0 win. I did not even risk a tiny air punch for our second – and my scarf was hastily and very surreptitiously hidden in my bag.

By the way, I’ve since been to Anfield for the Mersey derby. I’ve been to friendlier exit interviews.

On another occasion, also at Norwich, my car was defaced (fortunately not permanently) by hilarious Norwich fans writing 1-0 all over it after our defeat the following year. I no longer have Ipswich Town stickers all over my car.

Just in case.

Apparently we have played each other 93 times, winning 40, drawing 17 and losing 36 but I genuinely don’t remember many defeats – naturally I have erased the 5-1 and the 4-1 of our last two meetings from my mind entirely. (Apart from when I mentioned them earlier, obviously).

I admit I do occasionally have nightmares of Craig Bellamy scoring into Churchman’s during a rare 1-0 triumph for them in 1998.

This was moments before my other half had identified Bellamy as their ‘key man’.

We discovered over several years that as soon as this expression was used by him to describe an opposition player, they would always score.

Fortunately, he has now stopped this irritating habit and thus remains my other half.

Sometimes, when I look back on our 20 year relationship, I realise that one of the biggest things that binds us together (our children aside, naturally) is our shared experience of Norwich derbies.

To us, Gary Megson has legendary status, thanks to his last minute own goal in our 2-1 triumph in 1993.

In times of trial, we only have to look at each other and say the word ‘Alex Mathie’ and all is calm again as blissful memories of his hat trick in our 5-0 demolition in 1998 spring joyously to mind.

Fabian Wilnis is another favourite of ours, partly because he came and sat in the crowd with us at Burnley, partly because of that goal against Manchester United, but especially because he’s a blue, he’s a blue and he hates… Well, I’m sure he doesn’t really, but it was a very good song.

And of course the very best derby moment is the one I am sure will flash before my eyes on my deathbed, for never have I laughed so much in my entire life, nor enjoyed myself more.

It should have been a simple back pass in the 86th minute at 1-1 and I’m sure that is what Robert Ullathorne has told himself a hundred thousand times since.

But he really shouldn’t beat himself up for he has given Town fans more pleasure than a considerable number of our own players, perhaps up there even with Jim Magilton when he scored the last minute equaliser against Bolton in the play off semi final which finally helped to get us to Wembley in the Millennium year.

So, with hindsight, perhaps I shall let my son wear his new yellow and green T-shirt after all.

Maybe he should even wear it on Saturday?

Because whenever I look at it, I will remember an air kick, a hopeless expression and the extraordinarily satisfying combination of hysterical laughter and cheering that engulfed Portman Road one glorious April day in 1996.

Whatever the result on Saturday, may the T-shirt be a lasting reminder of the Ipswich legend that is, indeed, Bryan Gunn.

What are your best derby day memories? Email us and let us know


  • Fair point, John. I'm not a fan of the drums myself. Especially if it means true fans like yourself are put off going to the match at all.

    Report this comment

    Liz Nice

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Great theatre Liz Nice? Been to a few plays in my time but can't remember one where a group of drummers banged their drums all the way through the performances.

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    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • thanks, Mike, I couldn't agree more. It's great theatre. Really looking forward to Saturday

    Report this comment

    Liz Nice

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Made me chuckle. Don't take the article or the 'anti-Naaaaridge sentiment' too seriously. There will be some Town fans who take it too far and seem to have a genuine hatred for Naaaaridge and vice-versa, but you will always have them no matter what. For most - myself included - it is pure pantomime. I boo Nodge, afford myself a smile when they lose and occasionally even join in the odd rude ditty about Delia, but none of it is actually meant. I have friends who support them and find the city quite pleasant. Football is meant to be an entertainment, and the atmosphere generated by the 'rivalry' is part of that. If we lose on Saturday I shall be disappointed, as I always am when Town lose, but I shall take the banter from my Budgie friends (as I've had to for a few years now!), reply with an observation about their lack of trophies and any notable European pedigree and get on with enjoying until if and when something genuinely serious stops me doing so. If we win, then I shall be a very, very happy boy...

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    Mike Rotch

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • Truly inane and stupid article. I am not quite sure where this infantil 'hatred' of Norwich started.... certainly it was quite usual for fans to watch both teams if they lived in north suffolk. I can remember quite a few defeats. Hugh Curran's hat trick after Town's promotion and a gloating programme article about Viljoen's hat trick being the only hat trick in east anglian derbies,.... a somewhat painful semi final defeat in the league cup, johnny miller knocking Town out of the same competition before he had been paid for...and blow me down i see a sensible post from somebody on here...richiw w well done - any sane supporter will agree with every word.

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    L E Cheval

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • I love the town (footer team). But refuse to get drawn into the childish anti Norwich stuff. What happens when it's a sunny day and the green trees are looking lovely with the yellow sun shining around, do you close your eyes or do a rain dance. Articles like and parenting such as this, only encourage hatred. We also need to get past the fact that, Norwich B Gunn affair too, because at the end of the day we had to rely on an own goal to bail us out. At least the Norwich board pay for players, our chairman hides away with hands firmly in pockets whilst the team utilise hand me downs. For football I am come on you blues, for shopping......

    Report this comment

    richie w

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Liz, you appear to be a closet Nodge supporter. I have 5 children none who I would dress in green and yellow , except if they wanted to join, a circus as clowns. if you support Ipswich, that should be it , no need to discuss further. you appear to be naïve leaving a car with Ipswich stickers on then being surprised when its damaged. Have you even thought of taking up gardening perhaps you could understand this more.

    Report this comment

    alec smith

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Agree get rid of the drums Best game against Norwich was the 2-1 away win in the Texaco cup final to stop them having a cup in their cupboard and another one in ours

    Report this comment

    chantry boy

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • I thought of you Mr Burls whilst watching the match build up of the Leicester game which showed a guy bashing a bloody great drum next to other supporters. Comment by pundit along the lines of 'Bet they wish they were somewhere else' lol

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    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Nice, Liz. Come on, the girls!

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    Rita WAG

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Haven't missed a derby since I became a rabid supporter in 1968, but I shall miss this one and, despite having a season ticket, watch it on TV. No one at ITFC will notice my absence but it is the only way I can make a feeble protest about those infuriating and totally unnecessary drums. Surely I am not the only one whose enjoyment of all our home games is ruined by their inane thumping? As I've suggested before, put them under the directors' box and see how long they last.

    Report this comment


    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Town 5 City 1, Alex Mathie!!

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    Rufus Milo

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • the best game was when 1p5wich lost down at portman road that evening, the atmosphere was incredible... for the away support anyway!

    Report this comment

    john smyth

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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