Chris Goreham: Here’s my favourite East Anglian derby quiz question...
PUBLISHED: 20:04 23 October 2017
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Norwich City are enjoying more long runs than Mo Farah at the moment.
That ninth straight East Anglian Derby without defeat extended several remarkable sequences. It’s nine matches unbeaten since the Millwall debacle, five successive away wins and just three goals conceded in that time.
It’s part of a football commentator’s job to have an abacus close to hand at all times in order to keep on top of these sort of statistics.
My current favourite East Anglian Derby fact is still valid after our latest sortie into Suffolk.
James Maddison’s brilliantly taken goal means that Norwich City have scored the first goal in every single one of their last 13 visits to Portman Road.
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It’s an eclectic band that Maddison has joined, from bona fide City legends, to debut goal scorers and one or two forgotten men. Can you name the previous 12 players who have put Norwich 1-0 up away at Ipswich?
While you stew on that it’s worth taking stock of a couple of other matters that have been batted up and down the A140 in what felt like a particularly spikey Derby build-up. Firstly is this passionate but rather pointless argument about which of the two is the ‘bigger’ club.
I may be in a Norfolk minority by not actually minding the fact that Ipswich have three stars on their shirts.
They have won a league title, an FA Cup and a UEFA Cup and that is something that Norwich fans have to suck up.
I can’t blame them for wanting to remember an illustrious history that to me is like the moon landings.
It happened before I was born but I have seen the video footage and will have to accept the word of those who were around at the time that it wasn’t faked in a Hollywood studio. Although, given the number of Town players who appeared in Escape to Victory, this is an option that was presumably open to the Suffolk side.
Football though is not all about winning trophies. If it was we’d all be off supporting Manchester United, Liverpool or Real Madrid. The very existence of clubs like that underlines why Norwich and Ipswich supporters bickering over being a ‘bigger’ club is football’s equivalent of two bald men fighting over a comb.
The real joy comes from following a team through thick and thin. Offering unconditional support, enjoying the magic moments when they come and finding solace with your fellow fans during the difficult times.
Anyone who watched City lose 5-0 at Portman Road back in 1998 will know how painful ‘Derby Day’ can be. That was the last time the Canaries didn’t score first in Town’s backyard. Which brings us back to the pub quiz question about the 13 players who have given Norwich’s travelling support a taste of opening goal ecstasy.
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Craig Bellamy started the run in October 1998 in a 1-0 win, Darren Huckerby (2005), Lewis Grabban (2014) and Maddison (Sunday) have also proved that one can be enough. Iwan Roberts (2000) and Leon McKenzie (2003) famously helped themselves to derby doubles after opening the scoring and then there was Andrew Surman (2011) who started the ball rolling in that incredible 5-1 triumph.
There are three occasions when Ipswich have hit back to earn 1-1 draws. One was in the first leg of the play-offs in 2015 after Jonny Howson had put City ahead, last season Cameron Jerome did the honours and it took a dramatic stoppage time equaliser in 2002 to prevent Malky Mackay’s strike from being the winner.
That leaves us with three players who have put Norwich 1-0 up at Portman Road and ended up on the losing side. Debutant Luke Chadwick (2007), Ched Evans (2008) and on loan David Mooney (2009) all had derby days to forget.
James Maddison has become the 13th member of a funny old collection of Canaries.
How many more times ref?
The Sunday scheduling of the East Anglian Derby provided the opportunity for me to cover two games at the weekend.
I ticked off a Norfolk ground that was missing from my non-league list by visiting Thetford Town’s Mundford Road for their FA Vase clash with Debenham LC on Saturday.
It was a hard fought cup tie which was level at 1-1 after 90 minutes and still the same after a further 30 minutes of extra time.
The hardy crowd was spared the drama of a penalty shoot-out and the two sides are due to replay in Suffolk this evening.
The effect of Storm Brian on the conditions was demonstrated perfectly during the second half when someone started flying a kite in one of the fields next to the ground.
I cut my radio reporting teeth on the touchlines of non-league Norfolk and have always appreciated the volunteers, characters and unsung heroes of the scene that are ready with a cheery greeting and a cup of tea for a beleaguered BBC visitor.
I watched the match next to the man who looks after the PA system at Mundford Road.
Within the first few minutes Thetford were awarded a free kick and my new bearded friend bellowed “how many more times, ref?”. This was greeted by a huge cheer by many of his fellow regulars.
He explained that this cry has become something of a catchphrase and proudly showed me the mug that had been commissioned by the club on his behalf.
On one side it has the Thetford Town FC club crest and on the other, in big black letters, it reads “how many more times, ref?”
Every blow of the whistle was greeted with this slogan during the game.
When my neighbour didn’t feel like shouting it, another willing volunteer would happily pick up the mantle for all to enjoy.
It was one of those things that was hilarious to start with, got a bit tiresome for a while but then, the more it went on, became funny again.
It’s one of the few crowd catchphrases that is shareable in a family newspaper.