DERBY DAY VERDICT: Ipswich Town fan Liz Nice says Blues are in ‘safe mode’

Ipswich Town entertain local rivals Norwich City at Portman Road.
Glum Town fans

Ipswich Town entertain local rivals Norwich City at Portman Road. Glum Town fans - Credit: Archant

ITFC fan Liz NIce headed to Portman Road full of anticipation. She ended the day, like most Town fans, feeling rather flat

Before kick-off, I saw a friend I haven’t seen in a while and remarked on what a good view he had from his seat in the Sir Bobby Robson stand, upper tier.

“I’ll grow old in this seat,” he said.

What neither of us could have anticipated was quite how much we would both age over the next 90 minutes.

At the beginning, I’d felt like a child again, gazing at the perfect pitch and believing anything was possible. By the end I was an old lady, trudging home and moaning about my knee.

My brother calls us The Sunshine Boys and maintains that we never lose when the sun shines. So, the omens were good.

And there was plenty to enjoy at the start. The first 20 minutes were all us. No noise from the Norwich boys; their end as quiet as a grave.

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I joined in enthusiastically with all the chants, smirking as I remembered those back at the office who had predicted our demise.

You’ve got no chance. They’re just better than you. Your defence is looking decidedly ropey...

“The 12th man will bring us home,” I’d said.

And then, from nowhere, they scored.

I stared from Gerken to Skuse in disbelief. How had they allowed that to happen? My brother thought he saw a push on Skuse. Others muttered about offside. But none of it mattered.

In one ludicrous moment, a Bryan Gunn sort of moment, the dream had died and the 12th man lay slain.

The crowd never really got going again after that. The odd burst to remind Luke Hyam where he comes from. A couple of digs at Delia. But beyond that, you could feel all the belief, hope and promise slip away, just as it must have done for Malky Mackay’s bank manager as news of ‘Textgate’ broke.

There were a couple of second half thrills but their Ruddy keeper wouldn’t break. (Forgive me. I’ve been waiting to write that for years.)

My friend Paul put it best.

“Before McCarthy, it was like we were a slightly dodgy computer,” he said, “lots of glitches, always shutting down. Mick came along and put us into safe mode. It was what we needed, but on derby day, safe mode just feels horribly flat.”

Quite a few angry mutterings were heard at the end.

“The long ball’s not working!” someone yelled, as they always do. And one or two players took a battering from the man on my right.

They will know who they are.

Then it was over. The sun went in and the budgies sang (finally) and I returned home to my family of Liverpool fans, all beyond excited that Mario Balotelli is on his way.

I would just like to be a bit excited about something. Anything. But as it stands, it feels as though safe mode’s all I’ve got to look forward to.

The Tabb’s still running and the bill’s not about to get paid up any time soon.

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