Behind enemy lines
PUBLISHED: 15:27 20 November 2006 | UPDATED: 09:50 14 September 2010
by David Freezer
It was in the 77th minute of Sunday's East Anglian derby that I began to doubt my decision. Two weeks earlier I'd been offered the chance to join my Suffolk born housemate for the Portman Road clash.
Behind enemy lines by David Freezer
It was in the 77th minute of Sunday's East Anglian derby that I began to doubt my decision. Two weeks earlier I'd been offered the chance to join my Suffolk born housemate for the Portman Road clash. The only problem, we would be sitting in the Ipswich equivalent of the Barclay, the North Stand.
My mission, trying to hide that I was a secret agent from north of the border. “That'll be all right, I can control myself,” I had said, thinking I would be able to handle the pressure.
How wrong I was.
But my expectations of possible pitfalls in my trip to Portman Road were proved wrong. I managed to remain conspicuous, my nose remains straight, no black eyes were received and my acting was of at least BAFTA quality.
What I had not accounted for was that the Norwich City team, that had shown such strength in mind and body at The Hawthorns the previous week, would not be joining me in Suffolk.
My day had started well, the hangover felt better than expected and a hearty bacon sandwich set me and my, unfortunately, Ipswich supporting friend off on our walk to the ground. I purchased my match-day programme in the hope of some more sour grape flavoured comedy from everyone's favourite Dutchman, Fabian Wilnis. Unfortunately, I found nothing but niceties.
When new signing Luke Chadwick capitalised on home defender Matt Richards' hashed clearance to put City one up, I slumped back in my chair. Just so much so that the collar of my coat covered my mouth and I could have a giggle and a sly look at my friend.
Things were going according to plan.
I even managed to keep a fake smile on my face and lightly applaud Sylvain Legwinski's first-half equaliser, confident that we would still overcome our fiercest foes.
Unfortunately, the players clearly did not have the same confidence in themselves and when a certain Danny Haynes appeared on the sidelines, I began to sense that familiar sinking feeling.
As Haynes' header hit the back of the net, the clearly inebriated Blues fan jumping up and down next to me offered me his hand before throwing his arms around me. I forced myself to shake his hand as I bewilderedly tried to remain conspicuous.
My mission was almost ruined.
Things were beginning to go very wrong for me and I soon felt intensely embarrassed and equally angry to be in among the 'enemy.' The anti-'Naarich' songs that had previously seemed amusing to me in anticipation of a comfortable win soon began to feel a lot more personal.
As Haynes confirmed that I had wasted more than £60 on a 400-mile round trip from Stoke-on-Trent, the metal wall at the back of the stand behind us that the home fans had been banging 'rhythmically' on all lunchtime became a good source to exert my anger on.
The injury time goal had sparked wild celebrations around me and as I was thrown about from one delirious 'enemy' to the next, my embarrassment and anger deepened. Mission failed.