Fans prepare for the big day

SOME football fans among us will confess to performing a peculiar superstitious ritual before the big game.It can be anything from buying their programme from the same seller or kissing the club badge at kick-off.

SOME football fans among us will confess to performing a peculiar superstitious ritual before the big game.

It can be anything from buying their programme from the same seller or kissing the club badge at kick-off.

Even some players were renowned for their bizarre behaviour before matches. Former Leeds star Tony Yeboah often put his good form down to his love for Yorkshire Puddings, Dutch legend Johan Cruyff insisted on spitting his chewing gum into the opposition's half before the whistle blew, and the great Bobby Moore needed to be the last person in the changing-room to put on his shorts before kick-off.

But what about those people behind the scenes? How do the staff at Portman we don't always hear about prepare for the derby and is it all that different from a regular league match?

The Fan

Graham Blackburn is the regular chair of The Naked Football Show on Ipswich Community Radio.

Most Read

“My main ritual this season has been to take on as much anaesthetic as possible before the game!

“I used to have the odd superstitious habit but I've given up on them because they never work.

“I've always been a glass-half-empty man but particularly this year.

“Norwich will be really up for it on Sunday. It all points to Alan Lee scoring on Sunday and I can think of nothing worse.”

The Groundsman

Alan Ferguson has received a number of awards for his efforts, including both Premiership and Championship Groundsman of the Year.

“We're starting to get ready for the preseason now so having a big game this weekend makes a busy time even busier.

“We like to do something extra special for the derby. It may mean putting a couple of extra cuts on the pitch to make it look really bold and sharp, like we would if we were preparing for a live TV game.

“We want people to come to the game and say “wow!” It should be part of their whole experience.

“The players have been training on the pitch ahead of Sunday, which they wouldn't normally do, but the gaffer thought it would give them a good feel for it.

“On Sunday morning we'll put the last of the pre-match water down to give the ball that extra zip.

“We'll do anything that can be done to help the manager and the team.

“A groundsman can upset a game if they get it wrong.”

The Kit Man

Wayne Coghlan is in charge of operations in the dressing room and has a regular spot on the bench during matches.

“Our team finished setting up the dressing room on Friday morning ready for the game on Sunday.

“When the players finish training, we collect all the boots up. Some of them prefer to play in them on match day but others favour a new pair.

“During the game I'll be on the bench with spare kit if anyone has a problem. I also have the job of writing the cards for substitutions.

“All the players are very approachable and polite. I've heard horror stories about other clubs but we never have any problems here.

The Security Boss

Mick Warden's 32 years in the police force have prepared him well for his role as head of safety and security at Portman Road.

“All the planning and safety checks are exactly the same for every time we open the stadium. We're responsible for everyone here.

“We have to check that everything I working correctly and make sure any defects from the previous game are repaired, including damaged seats or doors.

“For the derby game we work very closely in partnership with the police and we must have contingency plans in place but in the four-and-a-half years I have been in the post the derby has past without any significant trouble. We can actually have more problems at other games.

“It's a major operation for the police but for us it's a question of a large amount of people coming to the stadium to watch a game of football. It's what we do every week.

“I don't always get to see the entire game and there have been occasions when a goal has gone in without me realising.”

The Sales Manager

Rosie Richardson handles marketing at the club. She and her team must ensure all the VIPs enjoy the derby day experience.

“When the fixtures are released at the beginning of the season there is a lot of interest surrounding the Norwich game. The phones start ringing and the hospitality lounges are soon sold out.

“We will be entertaining just shy of 1000 people in the hospitality areas and restaurants. We average around 600 to 800 for a standard league match but we're at maximum capacity for Norwich.

“Before the game we have to put the finishing touches together and there's always a real buzz around the office.

“At 10.30am on Sunday we'll be welcoming the guests and offering them a brunch menu. Then some of the players not in the squad tend to visit the hospitality areas and we have ex-players in some of the lounges doing Q and A sessions.

“After the game we take the man of the match to the Bobby Robson Suite to meet the sponsors.”

The Ticket Office

John Ford, like Alan Lee, has had the rare opportunity of working for both the Blue and Yellow side of the East Anglian derby. The ticket office and call centre manager has seven years experience at both clubs.

“We start preparing for any match about two months in advance. We talk to the opposition and discuss their ticket requests.

“Six weeks ahead of the game we print the tickets and distribute them to the away team and some of the sponsors.

“A month in advance we start to sell priority tickets and we continue to sell them until the match day itself.

“We use the same system for each league game but the big difference with the derby is that we've already run out of presale tickets. We get a mad rush within the first couple of days of them going on sale.

“It's impossible not to want the team to win on match day. Having worked at both Ipswich and Norwich I prefer the club I'm working for at the time.

“It's very difficult to predict the winner because both teams have been so unpredictable this season but if we can stop a certain ex-Ipswich player from scoring I think we're in.”