Fans prepare for “biggest-ever” East Anglian Derby as Town take on Norwich in crunch play-off decider
- Credit: Ashley Pickering
Thousands of Ipswich Town fans are heading over the border for today’s play-off match against arch rivals Norwich in what fans believe is the biggest-ever East Anglian derby.
As the Blue Army marches into Norfolk many more supporters will be settling down with nervous anticipation to watch the game on TV.
A win for Ipswich will mean a date at Wembley for the play-off final and the chance to win promotion to the Premiership, worth an estimated £150million.
Extra trains are running from Ipswich today, with Norfolk police expecting 2,000 Blues fans to head to Carrow Road.
Liz Edwards, chairman of the Ipswich Town Supporters Club, said it is the biggest East Anglian derby in the clubs’ histories.
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“It’s fabulous just to have the chance of making the play-off final, of keeping our promotion dreams alive,” she said.
“Whatever happens today, it has been a good season for us, and with a clutch of young players who will be even better next season, there’s so much room for optimism.
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“But first we have to get this game out of the way. We have a chance, but we have to remember that Norwich will, rightly, be the bookies’ favourites. The players will fight for every ball, and the fans have to play our part too. And if we get back across the border with a victory secured, then we’ll be partying long and hard.”
Pub landlords expect hundreds of fans to come through their doors for the match which has a 12.15pm kick-off.
Nathaniel Coughlan, general manager of Isaacs on the Quay in Ipswich, said: “It is a very big day but we are urging everyone to contain their emotions as there will be children in various venues watching the game. The tie is hanging in the balance but hopefully we have enough resolve to win.”
Ruth Carley, general manager The Golf Hotel in Foxhall Road, said: “I think it is going to be absolutely packed. Occasions like these are extremely important for pubs and people should go out to pubs and have a drink as you can’t beat the atmosphere.”
The additional trains are departing Ipswich at 10.30am and 10.52am, calling in Stowmarket at 10.41am and 11.03am before arriving in Norwich at 11.14am and 11.37am.
After the match, an additional return service will depart Norwich at 2.40pm, calling in Stowmarket at 3.11pm and arriving in Ipswich at 3.24pm. In the event of extra-time and penalties, this train will depart Norwich at 3.40pm.
A scheduled half-hourly Saturday service between Norwich and Ipswich will also run as normal.
For more information go to www.abelliogreateranglia.co.uk or call 0345 600 7245.
Chief football writer Stuart Watson will be tweeting live from Carrow Road, and the EADT and Ipswich Star will be sharing your tweets from the match.
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Police advice for travelling fans
Norfolk Constabulary is warning Ipswich Town fans to refrain from travelling to Norwich today if they do not have a ticket. As part of the police operation, officers may close some roads in Norwich’s city centre, including: Lower Clarence Road, Clarence Road and Carrow Road, for Ipswich fans to safely get to the ground.
And police have also told Blues that is “common sense” not to travel without a ticket. It was revealed earlier in the week the force was unable to find a premises for away fans to watch the game.
Norfolk Constabulary’s chief superintendent Nick Davison admitted he could “completely understand” Ipswich fans who were disappointed but said he had to work with the situation and “police accordingly”.
Chf Sup Davison said: “Clearly the stakes are high, but this is a great local derby event for the championship play-offs and we can no doubt expect passionate and healthy rivalry between two family friendly clubs and supporters.
“The police operation has been developed to ensure everyone has a great day out and the vast majority of fans will enjoy the event in the right spirit. Our focus will be on those whose behaviour spoils everyone else’s enjoyment and to manage areas where we have seen issues before at other matches as fans travel to and from the stadium.”
Wembley ticket details if Town win today
If Ipswich win and secure a place in the play-off final at Wembley on May 25 there will be tens of thousands of fans demanding tickets.
The club has been initially allocated 38,888 seats in the east side of the stadium, with tickets only available through the club’s website.
If the Blues are successful the tickets will be on sale from 6pm tonight from www.itfcdirect.com – but only for priority club members.
Current season ticket holders (inc. platinum/gold members), additional club members (silver, student, overseas), junior members, debenture holders, academy ‘Robson’ friends are all guaranteed a seat if purchased before general sale.
Tickets will be available from Monday at 8am
These can be purchased at 8am tomorrow only via Warner Duff, Ipswich Town FC’s disability liaison officer, on (01473) 400556.
The club will be promoting blocks 110 – 113 as the ‘singing section’ for Town fans.