Just to put things into perspective, I am a early sixties baby, so at the age of nine I was extremely fortunate to attend some the successful promotion winning games, leading us into the top division for the first time which included Orient away to secure elevation and a wet Watford to win the title and ultimately secure my lifetime devotion to Norwich City.
During that period we were playing second fiddle to our country cousins. With my grandfather and dad both being dedicated Canaries, one or the other would then take me to the Carra whilst my dad shepherded me to my first away game at Portaloo and when we travelled away, it was always in the seats, mainly due to the real issues of hooliganism and deliberate infiltration of fans looking for trouble in the day.
Eventually I was given permission to make my own way with mates to visit the south folk, queue up behind the North Stand, pay my 25p and stand in the pens to watch the game. Way before the introduction of drums, atmosphere could be built up by banging against the corrugated tins walls at the back of the stand. The stand was shallow, dark and on night games there would be regular flashes of light from smokers lighting up around the ground. Today’s experience is so different. At the time, arguably we had on the best City songs which involved an intimate relationship with Ipswich strikers, Paul Mariner and Eric Gates, I wonder who else reading this knows the song?
As a youngster you could set your calendar for each home and away contest, 3pm at Easter and Boxing day. The former would be a double header of entertainment as the Funfair would turn up in the City on the old cattle market, now the site of the Castle Mall. Another famous song springs to mind about Boxing day.
My first ‘big boys’ journey down the A140 involved going by car and my parents not understanding why I was leaving Norwich at 10:30 for a 3pm kick off. We had decided to get to the appropriately named Farmer’s Arms near the ground for noon. At the time tolerance levels and taste buds were in their infancy. After numerous pints of cider, I could remember little of the game other than seeing 44 players on the pitch rather than the standard 22 and having to stop near Diss, get out the car in haste and pay the price for over indulgence.
I have had lots of opportunity to exchange banter with Town fans on a personal level through work and sport. In my teens in in my first job, I would occasionally help out at the Eastern Counties Buses travel office in Dog’s Head Street, Ipswich. One claim to fame is sitting at my travel desk and seeing the retired Mr and Mrs Alf Ramsey complete with laden bags making their way out of Sainsburys having completed their weeks shop. In those days I would take the train from Norwich to Ipswich as the bus took too long and would always wear my yellow and green bar scarf from door to door. On one particular day the football in the travel office got to such a point that I displayed my scarf in the shop window. This resulted in my first trip the depot manager’s office to be questioned on why I was upsetting the locals! As a non-football fan he could see the funny side.
I love derby day and have a respect of all fans who support their local team which includes Ipswich, far better than being an armchair, plastic glory hunter, there are plenty of those about, just listen to 606 after the game.
Long may the banter continue and hopefully without incident, three points on Sunday for the boys in yellow and green... please!