All 3 entries tagged Derby

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April 13, 2009

Preparing for the Derby

Writing about web page

It is a misty morning, and it is difficult to tell whether the neighbourhood are suffering an Easter chocolate hangover, or still in denial following the Doncaster game.  I have just made an Easter Monday visit to the paper shop. Amongst the mournfully reduced Easter eggs, expensive birthday cards, and earnestly scribbled classified ads, I work my way through the front pages of the papers, which are carefully displayed on the news stands.

It is a bit of an unwritten rule in my family that I pick up the newspapers when I am at home in Ipswich. I love flicking through the pages to digest the gossip, scandal and rumour in all of the papers that my parents would never allow to set foot in our house. I revel in the transfer scandal, and the managerial rants, but sense that the shop assistant wants the money.

November 20, 2008

Darren Huckerby and the Passion problem

Darren Huckerby and the Passion Problem

It was about four years ago when I was in Norwich’s St Stephens’ Street. Norwich City Football Club had just been promoted to the Premiership. My team, Ipswich, had crumbled to another play-off defeat. I was nursing my wounds and wondering why my footballing world had fallen into ruins.

I was debating whether it was `worth booking a table at my favourite Chinese restaurant in Norwich, when I spotted Darren Huckerby coming out of a well-known department store. I froze.

At that time, and still today, Huckerby was public enemy number one in the minds of Ipswich Town fans like me. We detested the spiky blond-haired winger with passion.

It may have been something to do with his swagger around the pitch, a comment that he may have made in the local press, or a goal that he scored in the East Anglian Derby? I can not remember why we hated him so much, but I know that I hated him.

I know that I was being totally irrational. Hate is an unforgiving emotion. I had never personally met the man to make a sound judgement, but I still felt that Darren Huckerby was short hand for everything that I hated about modern British football and Norwich City Football Club.

Back in St Stephens’ Street, I fixed a stare on Huckerby. He was just how I had angrily imagined him to be. He was dressed in holed jeans and a dreary American biker T-shirt looking like an X Factor wannabe wailing that ‘this competition means everything to me.’

Huckerby looked at me in readiness to do another ‘Good Luck, love Hucks’ autograph to another Norwich fan. However I am never that good in covering up my emotions and something in my glare told him that I was not interested in any canary small talk.

I like to think that a little bit of fear came into his eyes, although I now think it was derision. I flounced passed like a rush hour commuter, with the hope that I had taught Huckerby a lesson. Now I feel embarrassed. I would not usually behave like this to random people.

There is something about football that makes normal people lose any sense of rational thinking and behave like extras on Eastenders. We take an instant dislike to players who we have never met, and will never likely meet, because of the colour of their football shirt.

Some fans feel that they should throw coins at players as a way of expressing their hatred and bile. Certain fans have attempted to recreate pitch battles in the pubs and streets around their ground as part of their football experience. Some of us now read the books of those days with rose-tinted spectacles. Some of us revel in that ‘passion’ and ‘devotion’ to their club. It can be embarrassing.

Mostly gone are those days when the vast majority of Saturday afternoon matches ended in recreations of the Battle of Waterloo. Most match day programmes ask fans to inform their nearest stewards about unacceptable abuse being directed to the pitch, and penalties are being handed out for the worst offenders. The worst excesses of racial bile are just about eradicated but we have to accept that ‘anything does not go’ from beside the pitch.

I am not calling for the end to atmosphere at football grounds. I have been to far too many games that feel as if they are being played with a mute button on. I also accept that players have their own responsibilities on the pitch. The players that provoke the fans with gestures and comments are not helping the situation.

I also know that I will struggle to like anything about Norwich City Football Club. I am pretty sure that I will never warm to Darren Huckerby too, and there will be another City player who will join my ever growing list of hated players including Darren Eadie, Ian Crook, Keith O’Neil, Bryan Gunn, Craig Bellamy, Adi Akinbiyi and Robert Fleck. I also know that those feelings will be reciprocated by the Norwich faithful.

I also know that I will always be able to keep my emotions in check. We can love our football. We can have passion for football, but we can keep our dignity and self-respect, whilst we support our teams.

May 30, 2008

Review of Pride Park December 2005

Writing about web page

Article for Internet Football Grounds Guide 3rd December 2005 "Derby’s Pride Park Stadium is rapidly starting to turn into my “second” ground, behind my “beloved” Portman Road whilst I am living in the East Midlands."

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