Race To The Premier League: The Biggest Ever East Anglian Derby

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Copa90
Copa90

East Anglia’s, Norwich City and Ipswich Town are pillars of the beautiful game.  Although they are not the most popular teams in the world, they have both reached the height of international football.  Known today as the Old Farm Derby, cheekily named after Glasgow’s Old Firm, these two clubs have been partaking in one of England’s fiercest rivalries since 1902.

Ipswich Town F.C was formed in 1878, and only began playing professional football in May of 1938 after being elected into Division Three of the Football League.  Their first major success came in the 1961-62 season when they won promotion to the second division.  A decade later, Bobby Robson led the club to the first division, also beating Norwich City in the final of the Texaco Cup (a trophy for teams in the UK not qualified for European Competition).  The Tractor Boys achieved their greatest successes in 1981 and 1982, beating Arsenal to win the FA Cup, and then defeating AZ 67 Alkmaar in the Uefa Cup final the following season.

Established in 1902, Norwich City F.C. was first admitted into the football league in 1920.  The Canaries lingered in the lower rings of English football until finally achieving promotion to the top tier in 1972. They took revenge on their local rivals, beating Ipswich Town in the semi-final of the 1985 League Cup (known today as the Capital One Cup).  They went on to win that year following a 1-0 defeat of Sunderland. In the 1992-1993 inaugural season of the Premier League, Norwich reached third place, qualifying for Uefa Cup.  The following season, they defeated Bayern Munich in the final, becoming the only English team to beat Bayern in Munich’s Olympic stadium, until Chelsea in 2012.

These East Anglian clubs have played 106 derbies with Ipswich winning 45 to Norwich’s 44.  The most heated confrontation dates back to the 1985 League Cup semi finals. After winning the first leg 1-0 at Portman Road, Norwich scored early in the return leg to level the tie.  With a place in the Wembley Final at stake, Steve Bruce scored a late winner, sending Norwich to Wembley.  The sight of Bruce breaking through the Ipswich defense as he headed the winner in front of the old Barclay stand is one that the Norwich faithful will not soon forget.  It was a final act that had it all; chances, physical intensity, tension, and ended in a deserved win for Norwich.

Unlike other derbies, this fixture has no political or social ties.  We are talking about two clubs that simply dislike each other because of their proximity. With the Norfolk – Suffolk sides set to clash again this weekend in the Championship Playoffs, viewers can expect a cracking and uniquely English derby.  Norwich and Ipswich are 3rd and 6th respectively, and both have high hopes to get back to the Prem.  Score a goal in one of these games and you instantly become a part East Anglian folklore.

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