Chris Lakey: Why Norwich City are a better club than Ipswich Town

Luke Chambers tries to get the better of Nathan Redmond at Portman Road. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Luke Chambers tries to get the better of Nathan Redmond at Portman Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

So here we are, the eve of the East Anglian derby. And for those who have contributed the silly bits to a huge week of build-up, you can go and lay down for a while.

Mind the gap - Wes Hoolahan and Luke Chambers. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdMind the gap - Wes Hoolahan and Luke Chambers. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

To say this is a big game is an understatement; it is one of the biggest derby clashes in the country. It’s not the size of the crowd that matters, nor the live TV audience tomorrow lunchtime - it is the immeasurable intensity of the battle that counts.

No one outside of the derby picture knows what it feels like: when someone tells you they’d rather Norwich be in the Championship than rubbish in the Premier League, just so long as they can play Ipswich, then you know what it means.

This week has seen the usual banter – I use the word loosely given the way it has been treated of late by the FA – plus some little extras that have provided the added spice.

Nelson Oliveira took the kick-off a full week ago when he said Norwich was a better club than Ipswich. You won’t be surprised I tend to agree. Let me explain, briefly: I spent a bit of time recently researching a certain period in City’s recent history, and the mention of the £20m debt kept popping up. City could have gone to the wall – David McNally said that they came within an inch of bringing in the administrators in 2009. But they didn’t. They worked hard, got out of the mess, found some success with time in the Premier League and continue to strive to improve the club.

In 2003, Ipswich went into administration, paid off a measly percentage to creditors, leaving a trail of destruction on other people’s doorsteps.

That one difference blows the “better club” argument out of the water. No argument.

However, if you want to put that aside, you will hear constant reference to Ipswich’s big successes – winning the Uefa Cup, the FA Cup and the old First Division. Yep, absolutely stunning achievements, which Norwich cannot match, and probably quite right that they decide to put a star, for each victory, on to their shirts. It’s not official, just something the club did themselves. Does it mean anything to people outside of Ipswich? Nah.

I have an old golf shirt with a crocodile badge on it but I’m no Mick Dundee.

Truth is, referring to successes over a period of 19 years doesn’t really count – the histories of Blackburn, Preston, Huddersfield and a few others has been pointed out this week. If you do go on history, then it needs to include recent history. Town are in their 16th consecutive season in the Championship; City might have flirted with yo-yo status, but at least they have been in the top flight. There has been success and, as is becoming the norm for promoted clubs, failure in the top flight. And it’s been interesting.

I just feel sorry for Town fans because any potential they have had has been nipped in the bud by an owner who hasn’t done enough to help his manager.

Anyway, back to the “better club” argument: if it didn’t hurt, then why send out Luke Chambers to bat the accusation back? Chambers said: “They’re obviously not very well educated on the fact that I think there’s three stars above the Ipswich crest on our shirt.”

Thing is, Luke, he doesn’t buy into the stars thing either.

Chambers also says Oliveira has “always got a lot to say for himself”. Like you haven’t….

I’d would like to end by apologising to the person on my Twitter timeline who said we were over-doing the derby build-up. I’m really sorry you don’t get how big it is.

Have a nice sleep.

Time for a knee’s up

Will Lewis Hamilton take a knee when the national anthems are played at this weekend’s US Grand Prix?

Hamilton could be world champion by the time the dust has settled, but it could be a bumpy ride if he decides to publicly show the support he has already given to the NFL players who kneel when their national anthem is played as a reaction to racial injustice and police brutality. The NFL players are causing a massive storm, especially in the face of condemnation from a president who perhaps ought to read again that bit about Land of the Free.

Whatever Hamilton does, someone will complain – just because he may decide to stand firm on a point of principle. I’d like him a lot more if he does what he wants to do, not what someone else wants him to do. But why not just forego the anthems? What is the point? In this country we are asked to stand to sing “God save our Queen”. If you don’t believe in one and you’d rather the other didn’t exist as well, you are in a bit of a fix anyway.

Dull, dull, dull

English clubs did pretty well in European competition this week, but it was hard work if you made the wrong choice.

Having opted for Benfica v Manchester United, I was committed to watching it until the bitter end. Had I chosen Chelsea v Roma it would have been a much more enjoyable evening.

United did as I probably should have expected – enough to win. They were easily the better side, but made little attempt to rise above average – and then Jose Mourinho bleated about, well, not bleating about the players he is missing through injury. He omitted to say, of course, that he has a treasure chest of talent from which to select a team.

The performance came a few days after he parked the bus at Anfield and left with a point. It was awful.

And this from one of the clubs who are not happy at the prospect of having to share their TV pot equally with all others clubs in the Premier League.

How can they keep a straight face?

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