Who can be City's derby day hero, just for one day?
PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 February 2018
Whatever vintage of Norwich City fan you are, some of your greatest football moments will be dominated by memories of games against the old Suffolk foe: Steve Bruce's header. Iwan, Malky or Leon's double. The 9-2 season. The play-off semi-final.
As a football fan those moments will live longer in the memory than the moments of hurt. The moments proper football fans must endure to understand the highs. Chris Kiwomya’s double is my first experience of the derby. Of Craig Fleming pulling up, Ipswich playing on and scoring the winner at Carrow Road. The 5-0 at Portman Road.
For those who’ve supported us for less than eight years, you’ll have to trust me, there are unfortunately a few of those moments. Just hopefully not any time soon.
These days the derby is always on a Sunday lunchtime for police safety reasons. With this, spare a thought for those, like me, who’d travel many miles to get there. My most stark memory of travelling to the East Anglian derby – one Friday afternoon – was realising upon arriving at Liverpool Street that there was only a bus service to Ipswich. There I was standing on Ipswich station all on my lonesome some two hours later in my yellow and green. I hadn’t gone all John Terry – it was just the shirt – but it did prompt a personal police presence and a few unpleasantries. Still, a Darren Eadie-inspired Norwich side made it a night to remember.
My own personal highlight though was my second visit to enemy territory. December 2003, after a certain Mr Huckerby had returned to his loan sender. In the intervening week, Nigel Worthington had gone and bought himself two strikers to try and fill the goal scoring void – Matt Svensson and Leon McKenzie. It was McKenzie’s double that lit up that derby and sent Norwich top of the league at Portman Road. Amazing scenes.
Roll forward some 15 – unfortunately yes – years, and I can’t help but feel it’s time for another debutant (minus five minutes – poetic license) to write their own headlines onto a derby. Whilst Nelson Oliveira’s work rate and attitude seem improved in recent weeks, his lack of goal-scoring is an immediate concern, in a team that has clearly struggled finding the back of the net. I’d want to see Dennis Srbeny thrown in from the start, or at the very least given a good 30 minutes to prove what he can do. If he has the attitude and form, albeit at a lower level, that his record suggests then Daniel Farke has someone with goal scoring promise.
Ipswich will be robust, hard working; Mick McCarthy in short. Given the different approaches to getting out of the Championship taken – one building from the ground up; the other plodding along with a tried, tested, stale approach – more than most years I hope we have a positive derby. Progress needs proof points.
The football offered up at Carrow Road this term needs improvement, but this Norwich City era appears to be starting to tick. The defensive robustness we’ve long craved has arrived, there’s a youthful edge and desire as you move forwards, and a team built around some of our own in the likes of Jamal Lewis, Josh Murphy and Angus Gunn.
What we need is a new hero to take the mantle ably carried by James Maddison for most of the season. Be that a Srbeny or the highly impressive Moritz Leitner, or frankly a thunderbolt header and defensive resolve of a Grant Hanley, I don’t think any of us would mind.
Tomorrow represents that chance – to go down in Norwich City history. Wherever you’ll be watching or listening, enjoy the game and here’s to another year of green and yellow dominance over the old foe.