Big? Maybe not.. but better? Definitely
PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 October 2017
Focus Images 2011
The biannual face-off between Norwich City and Ipswich Town is a frantic, nerve-shredding occasion for fans of the two teams.
But it is often overshadowed by the real battle, which takes place on Twitter and features fans with odd names like @DonkeyDAvray and @CanaryGuano.
Ahead of tomorrow’s on-field clash, the off-field intensity has been relentless, and has focused on one crucial (for ‘crucial’, read ‘largely irrelevant’) squabble – which club is the biggest and the best?
City striker Nelson Oliveira kicked it off with a stirring speech about the Canaries being “a better club”, with Town then wheeling out big gun Ray Crawford to contradict him. Other ex-players waded in, before it spilled onto social media.
The obvious answer is Norwich. And thus endeth my latest column. There’s nothing to add: case closed.
It’s not that simple, though. And the truth won’t go down well with City or Town supporters.
For neither club is the biggest. In fact, neither club is big.
Is it blasphemy for a lifelong Canary to say such a thing? Will I be shunned at every turn, banned from Carrow Road and forced to return my collection of City shirts?
If so, may truth succour me in my banishment.
The definition of a big club will always be changeable and debatable. In the 1870s, Corinthian Casuals and the Royal Engineers were the cocks of the walk. Preston and Huddersfield were once untouchable.
The sands have shifted constantly, and today Manchesters United and City, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea fight for control of the playground.
Based simply on who is winning titles, it’s easier to bestow honour. But what about average attendances, fan base and history?
Ipswich like the history clause, thanks to a league title, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. Norwich are more keen on other criteria.
Carrow Road attendances hammer Portman Road turnouts into the ground and have done for years, while City’s recent record against Ipswich is tremendous: elderly Town fans have been labelled delusional by their friends for claiming to remember when they beat Norwich. It’s dim and it’s distant.
If you want to make the argument more petty - if that’s possible - throw in the fact that: Norwich is a city, Ipswich is a town; Norwich is beautiful, Ipswich is not; Norwich is in Norfolk, Ipswich is in Suffolk.
All of this demonstrates that Norwich City are better than their rivals. That is not, and never will be, in doubt.
But it’s all just pointless posturing really. Norwich and Ipswich will always be medium-sized clubs: a pair of boxers fighting for middleweight glory and hoping one day to step up a division a la Leicester and knock out the heavyweights.
To me, though, it’s no big deal. Norwich are my club, and they will always be the best club.
Size does not matter, substance does.
So let’s forget all the “my dad’s bigger than your dad” posturing and wallow in the sure knowledge that we will always support the superior club.