Four thousand days and counting ... a look at Norwich City’s derby day domination
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Sunday lunchtimes haven’t been the same for a while - Chris Lakey looks at a milestone in the history of the East Anglian derby
It’s lunchtime on Sunday, April 19, 2009, and a usually quiet corner of Suffolk has erupted.
Ipswich have beaten Norwich City in the East Anglian derby.
They’d never had it so good – and they haven’t had it so good since either.
Today marks exactly 4,000 days since a final-minute goal by Jon Stead earned the Tractor Boys their last derby win.
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Four. Thousand. Days.
A lot of river has gone under Orwell since, but in 12 meetings since, Ipswich have never come out on top. They’ve been close, but no cigar. And when a rare victory looked a possibility, Timm Klose was there to ruin it all for the boys in blue.
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It’s perhaps only fair to start with the game that started the ruin: David Mooney put City ahead in the 16th minute, only for Alan Quinn and Giovani Dos Santos to give them the lead with around an hour gone, before Stead made it 3-1 in the final minute, although there was still time for Sammy Clingan to convert a penalty for City. It was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for City – they lost their next two games and slipped out of the Championship and into League One. It hurt... and they made Town pay a heavy price when the teams met in season 2010-11.
The first game was in November, the second in April – and they were absolutely remarkable. City were absolutely ruthless.
Grant Holt scored a hat-trick as City won the first encounter 4-1, Wes Hoolahan adding the fourth. Damien Delaney had equalised for Town, but was sent off soon after.
If City fans thought that was close to heaven, then there was more to come. Much more. The 2,125-strong Yellow Army descended on Portman Road in high spirits for a rare Thursday night game – the trip back was even better as City strolled to a 5-1 win. If you were there you’d agree it could have been even more. Holt didn’t score... he just let everyone else have a go. Andrew Surman, a Gareth McAuley own goal, Simeon Jackson, Russell Martin and Dani Pacheco were on the scoresheet as City produced their biggest win in derby history, and only their fifth league double over their rivals.
“I thought my team right from the off were extraordinary in the football they played,” said manager of the time Paul Lambert, of whom we will see more later...
The wins helped City to a second promotion on the trot, into the Premier League, while Town were destined for a long stay in the Championship ended only, need we remind anyone, by relegation last summer.
City have a habit of playing yo-yo with their place in football’s top tiers, and hostilities resumed in the Championship in August 2014. Just four games into the season and City got their first away win, Lewis Grabban getting the goal. Grabban was on the scoresheet again later in the season when City won 2-0, the highlight of which was arguably the first-half opener from Bradley Johnson, which almost tore a hole through the net.
For only the third time in history, it was to be a season of four derby games, although this was the first where they all involved the clubs’ league positions. Come the end of the campaign, City were third and Town sixth, on goal difference from Wolves. A two-legged play-off semi-final beckoned... and it produced.
The first leg at Portman Road ended 1-1, Jonny Howson’s opener wiped out by Paul Anderson before half-time. Carrow Road was a very different story: Christophe Berra was sent off for deliberate handball and Wes Hoolahan put City ahead from the subsequent penalty. Although Tommy Smith made it 1-1 on hour mark, Nathan Redmond and Cameron Jerome sealed City’s place at Wembley, where they went on to beat Middlesbrough and return to the Premier League.
By now it was starting to get a little embarrassing for Ipswich.
In 2016-17 both matches ended 1-1, and the following season, James Maddison scored the only goal at Portman Road before a 1-1 draw in Norwich, a game which saw then Town boss Mick McCarthy launch a verbal volley at his own fans after Luke Chambers had his side ahead with a minute left - and then saw Klose claim a point for the Canaries.
Mo Leitner scored City’s equaliser at Portman Road on September 2018, but by the time of the reverse fixture, in February 2019, things had changed in that part of the world - and City fans were taking more than a bit of notice.
Lambert, the architect of that famous 2010-11 double, was in charge of Ipswich. They came to Carrow Road still in poor shape, with only two wins in their previous 18 league games, while City had lost just once in 15. Not for once was the form book in danger: Onel Hernandez gave City the lead after just two minutes, with Teemu Pukki striking twice in the last half hour.
But the match will perhaps be best remembered for an amazing incident after Jon Nolan’s late challenge on Max Aarons in first-half stoppage time. Basically, Lambert lost it, confronted City coach Chris Domogalla and anyone within range. Both were red-carded and Lambert watched the second half unravel from the stands.
When the dust had settled, Norwich moved clear of Leeds while Ipswich stayed adrift at the bottom.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Headline credit: BBC Radio Suffolk