True love on the 11am from Liverpool Street

'Twas approaching 12.10 pm on the sixth of March, Anno Domini 2010, and the Capital Canaries' journey from Liverpool Street to Norwich had so far been uneventful.


'Twas approaching 12.10 pm on the sixth of March, Anno Domini 2010, and the Capital Canaries' journey from Liverpool Street to Norwich had so far been uneventful. Some travellers were hungover and almost late, having only just caught the train. Others were bleary eyed as a result of a long journey from the south coast, and slurred of speech following a liquid breakfast. One supporter was surreptitiously clutching a couple more cans in the supposed anonymity of a plastic bag to fortify himself for the next leg of his odyssey. (That's right, just a few cans this time, not a case of refreshment as had been the case for the Southampton game). As usual, the ninety four year old Maurice's keenness, sobriety, erudition, and enthusiasm put most of us to shame.

Typically we were full of optimism for the game ahead. The winter of the Southampton game had been long forgotten, and the results against Southend and Oldham heralded the arrival of spring. As usual there was a rush for the seats with tables. As usual we had dutifully and respectfully saluted Chairman Gav with the boy scout salute when he joined our party on the station concourse. As usual the train had pulled out exactly on the dot of 11am. The most exciting event that day had been that our travel officer was late arriving, and there had been a minor panic whilst we debated what we would do if he were to fail to arrive on time, leaving us hopeless, helpless and ticketless. Fortunately he and Gemma made it in time to hand out the A4 size tickets, and we settled down for the next two hours to read our newspapers, fortify ourselves with lager, Lucozade, coffee, or Mateus Rose, according to our respective tastes, and degree of sophistication or of hangover.

Some of us had drifted into blissful sleep by the time the train pulled into Ipshot station, but I sat up bolt upright when a group of lovely ladies joined the train there and sat down behind me. With a twinkle in her eye, the Ipswich blue eyed beauty sitting immediately behind me, whipped out her mobile phone and reported in tones of some amusement to her family in Ipshot that she was in a carriage full of Norwich fans. The ladies professed to be regular spectators at Poorman Road. Innocently I wondered aloud whether this was some form of community service, a severe punishment to make amends for some heinous crime committed in the past.

It transpired that the ladies were on a shopping trip to Norwich, there being no decent shops in the hamlet of Ipshot. Good natured banter followed, and the blue eyed beauty introduced me to her companion, Andrea, who had two claims to fame. The first was that she had a son who played for Ipshot reserves, and had even scored the only goal for the Ipshot reserve team that beat City reserves at Carrow Road very recently. The second was that she looked so much like Saint Delia that she could have been Delia's identical twin. “Zing went the strings of my heart!” as Judy Garland might have said. She (Andrea not Judy) was quite flattered when I pointed out her resemblance to Delia, and willingly agreed to have her photo taken wearing a yellow and green scarf. She even said that her son would be very keen to sign for Norwich if the Canaries were to offer him a contract. Are you listening Ian Crook (aka the Wizard of Oz)? Please go and check out the next Ipshot reserves game.

I was about to ask Andrea to come to the Gunn Club to meet the real Delia, and then to elope with me and live happily ever after in the Fine City (where she could shop to her heart's content), when she dropped a bombshell. She dreams about Roy Keane in black silk pyjamas.

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Now I am very broad minded, liberal, and tolerant. And I really do respect Keano for having spent a huge chunk of Marcus Evans' ill-gotten gains on taking Ipshot to the cusp of relegation. And for taking his dog for long walks in the countryside to bond with him. But I refuse to share my girlfriends with him. End of a beautiful if short lived romance.

And as I mused about the fickleness of women, I began to wonder whether as a dyed in the wool Canary fan, who bleeds yellow and green blood if you cut me, did I really want Ipshot to be relegated? On the one hand it would be great to wave to them en passant as we were promoted to the Championship as Champions and they returned to their true level in the lower divisions. It would restore us to our rightful position as the Pride of Anglia.

On the other hand if they were relegated Poorman Road would never again see a decent crowd, and our local derby would be Colchester (if they too are promoted) or Watford (if Colchester do not join us in the Championship). And although I enjoy watching Norwich beat both Colchester and Watford, I enjoy it more when we beat Ipswich. So I am on the horns of a dilemma, which is quite an uncomfortable place to sit.

Our banter with the lovely ladies continued until we reached Thorpe station, when we parted with many a backward glance and tears in our eyes. Parting is such sweet sorrow, as Juliet said in Shakespeare's tragedy play “Romeo and Juliet”.

I consoled myself by immersing myself in profound philosophical questions, so germane to the modern predicament. Did Shakespeare support Villa or have a season ticket at Birmingham, or perhaps Walsall or Wolves? And did Juliet support AC Milan or Inter, or perhaps Man City in view of their new Italian manager?

Just for the record, City beat Yeovil 3-0. Wes, Holty, and Chris Martin were our scorers. Of our promotion rivals, Swindon and Huddersfield were well beaten. Leeds, Colchester, and Millwall could only draw, so we pulled still further ahead of the chasing pack. Oh, and lest I forget, Blackpool beat Ipswich 1-0 to leave them deep in the relegation mire.

What a shame. Or “Tragedy”, as Shakespeare might have said.