Why we won’t be watching the clock
It must be a really difficult time to be an 1p5wich Town fan – so we can afford to show a little understanding to our downtrodden football neighbours.
Norwich City’s rapid elevation to a place among the elite of the English game must have been a bitter pill to swallow south of the border, not least when it was accompanied by the two biggest derby drubbings Town have ever suffered at the hands of the Canaries.
So we should not be surprised that they are Green ’Un with envy, so much so that our friends at the Evening Star have launched their own “relegation countdown” clock on their website homepage.
They tell their online visitors: “‘Off the Boil City’ is a countdown clock recording the days until the Canaries regain their rightful place in the football hierarchy – the Championship.
“And we’re sure that Town fans will be Delia-lighted to pass the old enemy coming up if our new manager takes his Jewells up to the Premiership (sic) next season.”
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If only they had talked to us first. We tried it once – and it doesn’t work.
We set the Pink ’Un “Down Town Clock” – nothing to do with Petula Clark – ticking in the 2000-01 season after George Burley had taken Ipswich into the top flight. Their response was to finish fifth and qualify for Europe.
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We know, only too recently, how difficult it is to be a whole division below your biggest rivals, but a year looking upwards from League One is relatively painless compared to being stuck in the Championship while your neighbours are heading off to Old Trafford, Anfield and the Emirates Stadium, and entertaining some of the world’s greatest players on home turf.
The plain fact is that nearly every club is where it deserves to be, and the Canaries have earned their place in the Premier League.
After four seasons stumbling from one crisis to the next, City put their house in order, recruited a bright young manager and pulled off arguably the greatest achievement in their 109-year history – back-to-back promotions.
Paul Lambert’s record in 89 league games in charge of Norwich speaks for itself with 52 wins, 22 draws and only 15 defeats.
Compare that to the much-trumpeted appointment of Roy Keane at Portman Road, which brought Town and their invisible owner 28 wins, 25 draws and 28 defeats, a recipe for mid-table mediocrity and fans’ indifference.
Despite that derby humiliation in April, Paul Jewell may make a better job of it, and good luck to him. But that is not our concern – and neither are most Town fans preoccupied with City’s Premier League fortunes, to judge from their reaction to the “relegation countdown”.
According to Kingfisher: “This is exactly the problem with us as a football club – we spend all of our time worrying about Norwich. Look what they have achieved and how they have got to where they are with enthusiasm and team spirit.”
And Bluenproud, a “lifelong Blues fan and season ticket-holder”, admits: “Norwich taught us a lesson twice last season and were a better team all over the park! Take a look at our own team, under performing, lacking heart. Portman Road is like a morgue nowadays.”
Straight from the horse’s mouth – in this case the Suffolk Punch.
Rest assured, we in Norwich will not be clock-watching.
NORWICH CITY - REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
• Status: Premier League
• Championship position 2010-11: 2nd
• Average league attendance 2010-11: 25,386 (highest since 1972-73)
• Season ticket-holders: 21,833 (1,718 on waiting list, May 25)
• Recent highlights: Division One play-off finalists 2002, Nationwide League champions 2004, League One champions 2010, Championship runners-up 2011.
IPSWICH TOWN - REASONS TO BE FEARFUL
• Status: Championship
• Championship position 2010-11: 13th
• Average league attendance 2010-11: 19,614 (below 20,000 for first time this century)
• Season ticket-holders: 13,000 (latest published figure, May 20)
• Highlights in past 10 seasons: Division One play-off semi-finalists 2004, 2005, Carling Cup semi-finalists 2011.