Welcome to our East Anglian club

Welcome to the club - that was the message from Carrow Road today after two extra local derbies were added to the Canaries' Championship programme for next season.

Welcome to the club - that was the message from Carrow Road today after two extra local derbies were added to the Canaries' Championship programme for next season.

Promotion for Colchester United from League One after Saturday's goalless draw at Yeovil made it five East Anglian teams in the second tier of English football in 2006-07.

More than 1,600 travelling U's fans saw Phil Parkinson's side hit new heights by reaching the second flight for the first time in their 69-year history in a nerve-tingling match at Huish Park.

Southend United were already promoted before the weekend, but clinched the League One title with a 1-0 win over Bristol City in front of more than 11,000 fans at Roots Hall, thanks to a late Wayne Gray goal.

Club chairman Roger Munby hailed the two clubs' achievement when he said: “It's fantastic. We visited Southend for a pre-season friendly and were very impressed with their quality and style of play and to win promotion two years running is a great achievement.

“For Colchester to reach this level for the first time makes it double congratulations.

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“From a domestic point of view, our fans have swapped long trips to Crewe and Brighton for two shorter ones and if Brentford win the play-offs that will be another short trip.

“This will intensify the sense of local derby rivalry and raise the profile of football in the Eastern Counties.”

City chief executive Neil Doncaster added his congratulations, saying: “We're delighted that two more local clubs have progressed to the Championship and we very much look forward to welcoming Southend and Colchester to Carrow Road.

“Local derbies are always very entertaining occasions so to have two more of them is good news. We get on very well with the people at both clubs, and we're absolutely delighted for them.”

Kevin Piper, head of sport at Anglia TV and presenter of Anglia Tonight, said: “It is great news, especially for our Thursday night football programme, because there is incredible regional interest in the Championship, which I believe, according to statistics, is the third most watched league in world football behind the Premiership and Serie A.

“We have made significant efforts to offer supporters comprehensive coverage of Norwich City and Ipswich Town on our Anglia Tonight programme and we will do exactly the same for Colchester and Southend. We believe sport plays an integral part in our output. I only wish we had more air time to do it justice because we have to fall in line with the rest of the network.

“Both clubs have up-and-coming managers in Steve Tilson and Phil Parkinson and while the bookmakers will no doubt make them favourites for relegation, I feel one or both clubs could produce something of a surprise next season.”

With Ipswich and Luton already on the Championship fixture list, City's travelling fans will welcome two more relatively short day trips in contrast to the long hauls to Sunderland, Plymouth and Cardiff - but only those with long memories will have seen their side at Layer Road.

Norwich have not faced Colchester in league action for 46 years. The two sides last met in 1959-60 when City won promotion from Division Three.

Southend were last at Carrow Road in 1996-97, when they finished bottom of Nationwide League Division One, but the Shrimpers are now celebrating successive promotions under Tilson, having won the League Two play-off final last year.