Calling Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham etc ... Norwich City are the derby kings
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You have to go a long way to find a derby day record that is as good as Norwich’s recent one against Ipswich.
Recent history – it goes back as far as you like but it begins in the present – shows City have not been beaten in their last nine league games against Town. That’s not a new fact: it’s just one that has been repeated so often this past week it would be remiss of me not to mention it again.
During that time there have been six City wins and three drawn games – that includes the play-off semi-final first leg of May 2015, because they are league, not cup.
That’s 21 points for City and three for Ipswich.
Now, to find something to compare that to, I first had to find a reliable source, so settled for Four-Four-Two magazine’s top 10 derby games.
After totting up the points it seems only Aston Villa and Sunderland have been as successful in their last nine derby games.
What comes next is Four-Four-Two’s top 10 derbies, starting at number one, with the number of points won in brackets:
Arsenal (16) v Tottenham (13)
Manchester City (17) v Manchester United (8)
Everton (5) v Liverpool (17)
Celtic (20) v Rangers (8)
Newcastle (3) v Sunderland (21)
Dundee (12) v Dundee United (12)
Sheffield United (9) v Sheffield Wednesday (15)
Derby (14) v Nottingham Forest (11)
Cardiff (12) v Swansea (12)
Aston Villa (21) v Birmingham (3)
Thing is, we now need to be able to separate City, Villa and Sunderland so what better way than goals scored? Which, handily, means City finish on top, with 19 goals in those nine games. Sunderland scored 16 and Villa 15.
However, if you think goal difference is fairer well, City are still on top: Ipswich have scored six in the last nine derbies, meaning a difference of 13. Sunderland’s goal difference over Newcastle is 12 and Villa’s over Birmingham is 10.
Now, to me, that signifies, that when it comes to derby rivalries, City are enjoying more success than any other team in the major British leagues - ie, English and Scottish football (with apologies to others).
If you think nine games doesn’t cover it all, well, tough. You define history how you want to define history: but the record is nine unbeaten – so that is where the comparisons begin.
On a related matter, there will be many who will point out the absence of a few other derby games: Millwall v West Ham, Rovers v City in Bristol, Burnley v Blackburn, Southampton v Portsmouth, Cardiff v Swansea, Crystal Palace v Brighton, Oxford v Swindon or Chester v Wrexham.
All valid, but Norwich v Ipswich also wasn’t in Four-Four-Two’s top 10.
Whilst the iron is hot, it’s perhaps best to get over a couple of thoughts from last Sunday:
Angus Gunn is a bit of a legend already, and he’s only a few months in to his senior career – what a shame he isn’t one of Norwich City’s own, rather than on loan
James Maddison is going to cause his employers a headache – carry on like he is and it is inevitable that City’s resolve will be tested by the bulging cheque books of Premier League clubs
On the same subject, was Alex Neil right not to play Maddison? Has the player benefited from the loan to Aberdeen – and had he not gone north of the border, would he be as good as he is right now?
And how good is it to see players (and head coach) showing lots of mettle on the pitch, but coming across as thoroughly decent blokes off it? Loving the feelgood factor - and loving the fact Russell Martin was in with the City fans at Portman Road. What a bloke...
Well, well, well...
It’s little surprise that a whistle-blower has revealed an eye-watering level of doping among Chinese athletes in the 1980s and 1990s.
Xue Yinxian, a 79-year-old former doctor for the Chinese Olympic team who is seeking political asylum in Germany claims more than 10,000 of the country’s athletes were involved in a systematic doping programme across all sports.
I remember the infamous Ma’s Army – a stable of runners trained by Ma Junren, who fed them on turtle (how ironic) blood and caterpillar fungus.
In 1993, Wang Junxia took nearly 42 seconds off the 10,000m race record in Beijing. The Chinese women distance runners won three world titles and four world records in a month alone.
No one really believed the turtle blood stories, but they did believe that Ma personally administered drugs into athletes who were reluctant to take them.
Are we surprised? Of course we’re not.
I’m not a betting man, but I was rather hoping that Captain Scooby would win the final race at Great Yarmouth racecourse on Tuesday.
It was not to be – the 11-year-old came in sixth, but it was still a special race – it was Captain Scooby’s 200th appearance.
That makes him just the third horse this century to join the illustrious 200 club – a little over 24 hours after finishing 12th of 13 at Windsor on Monday.
“He’s a legend,” said his trainer, Richard Guest. “He’s an extraordinary horse and is enthusiastic and as sound as ever.
“He gives all the apprentices a ride and everyone loves him.”
For the record, Captain Scooby has won 18 races and earned almost £90,000 in prize-money, although he is now without a win in 21 starts.
But you know what? That hardly matters.
This is clearly a horse that loves a race – if he didn’t, he’d plant his feet and insist on going home for good.