Norwich Shadenfreude


I’ve become a citizen of the fine city of Norwich pretty much by osmosis. I arrived here almost 30 years ago, finding it very awkward to get to, and, unsurprisingly, as awkward to leave. Many of my friends arrived here about the same time, intending on staying for about 3 years, and we’ll all pretty perplexed about why the road out of Norwich is as trampled as the one in*. Norwich has many many wonderful qualities, one of the key ones being that the local characteristic is not to get too excited about how wonderful it is. Which means that they get to keep it to themselves.

Part of the responsibilities of a citizen of Norwich, is to naturally be very dismissive of anyone from Ipswich, particularly where football is concerned. It’s not exactly the Auld Firm rivalry, but there is an agreed assumption that if you come from Norwich (City) you should just dislike Ipswich (Town). (Sorry about that, but we have got a cathedral.)

And vice versa. Over the years I’ve played a few gigs in Ipswich, and everyone I’ve met has been perfectly charming. Until they ask you where you’re from. My friend Chris got into this situation in a pub once, and a bloke at the bar stared him out, saying that he hated Norwich so much that he’d removed all the yellow and green cables from his plugs.

So just hold that thought, while we consider the enigmatic force of nature that is Ipswich Town’s manager. Roy Keane is a long time stalwart of Manchester United, who is well known for stamping on his rivals in matches and for walking out of the Ireland World Cup team mid-tournament because he didn’t like the manager. So…that’ll be three good reasons to not like him terribly much. He’s got a fearsome reputation in the game, to the extent, I fear, that even journos don’t really like to criticise him too much in case he turns on them. So, possibly four reasons. And we’d probably be up to five if he was still playing for Ireland in last night’s match against France – how scary would that have been?

So, even though Norwich (City) are now in what we all agree is still called Division Three, playing against the legends of Bristol Rovers, Wycombe Wanderers and Tranmere Rovers, there is still a an immense sense of satisfaction to see Ipswich (Town) and Roy Keane go into a sharp and direct decline in the division above. Especially as it’s extremely likely that the club won’t sack Mr Keane as they’re too scared of him. Tee, and to a large extent, hee.

So, this local (and frankly, mildly xenophobic) schadenfreude is actually quite enjoyable. Apparently, if you’re any sort of person at all then this should be at best a guilty pleasure. But every now and again, all of your stars line up in the sky and you may as well enjoy it. After all, in a couple of years time, Norwich (City) might have a bad run, and the club could appoint a new manager, and it could be…

*Actually, it’s the same road, and it’s called the A11. A very strong campaign still exists to prevent it being converted to dual carriageway, as this would make the journey in & out a little too easy.

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