Derby clash will be snow joke for Norwich
The first East Anglian derby for two years will end in a 3-1 victory to the Canaries according to one Norwich pub manager – who is so confident of a flurry of goals in the game he has painted snowmen on his window to prove it.
People walking past the Prince of Wales Road pub on Prince of Wales Road, Norwich, will have noticed four snowmen appear in the window of the pub over the past couple of days.
At first glance they might appear to be just another bit of festive window dressing as the city gears up for a busy Christmas and New Year period.
But a closer look will reveal that three of the snowmen are wearing Canaries scarves while the melting snowman is bearing the blue scarf of East Anglian rivals Ipswich – with a Canary standing proudly on top.
Jason Bertie, manager of the pub, said the window is a sign to all Norwich fans of what the score will be at the end of Sunday's derby.
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He said: 'That's why we've got three snowmen to one – I think it will be 3-1 to Norwich.
'We've got three big snowmen in the window saying 'Ho, Ho, Ho' with smiley faces and Norwich City scarves and one small snowman which has melted with a sad face and Ipswich scarf on. On top of the Ipswich snowman there's a little Canary.
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'A few people have said they're going to go to the bookies and put a bet on that Norwich will win 3-1. If it is 3-1 to Norwich I'm going to make a lot of people happy – apart from the bookies!'
Mr Bertie said the idea, which came from Sarah Higgins, who covers the breakfast shift at the pub, was just meant as a bit of festive fun in the run-up to the big game.
'It's a little bit of fun, but quite a few people have commented on it already. We're in Norwich so we hope Norwich wins on Sunday, but we don't want to offend anyone – it's just a bit of fun in the run-up to Christmas.'
Mr Bertie, who will be showing the game live on Sunday, said he expects the pub to be full to the rafters with people watching the game who could not get a ticket for the sold-out match.
Pubs across the city are expected to be rammed with football fans on Sunday with the game being shown live on BBC1 from 1pm and the Murderers, on Timber Hill, Norwich, which is open from 10am will be no different.
But while landlord Phil Cutter is looking forward to the derby clash he is hoping most of the fans packing out the pub on Sunday will be disappointed with the result – as he is an Ipswich fan.
He said: 'I've never hidden the fact I'm an Ipswich fan – a lot of Norwich boys who come in know that anyway. I'm always pleased to see Norwich do well although hope Ipswich do a bit better.
'Over the years it's been nip and tuck and there's not much between the two teams – it's all swings and roundabouts which is the beauty of football. I've never encountered any bad feeling or anything like that – it's just good fun banter which is what football is all about.'
Mr Cutter will be one of the 26,450 expected to be at Carrow Road for Sunday's game, beating City's all seater record gate of 26,315 set last Saturday when the Canaries played host to Leeds, but will be at the pub before the game.
He said: 'I'm going to be at the pub first thing to set up and get things sorted. But I've got tickets for the match and will be there.
'It's nice to see the game on the TV – it gives the opportunity to all those other people to see the game. It's a sell-out regardless of where Norwich and Ipswich are in the table. It's one of the games that everyone wants to see.
'This is my 25th year at the pub and every time Ipswich and Norwich are on the TV its always a great atmosphere in the pub regardless of the result.'
The game falls on the same day as the City of Norwich Half Marathon, which starts at 11am, meaning thousands of Norwich fans taking part will be looking to break their own records to get round and back in time for the game.
Canaries' season-ticket holder Mark Smith, below, is one of more than 2,700 runners taking part in the event and will be hoping to complete his first half-marathon in less than two hours to take his seat at Carrow Road for the game.
Mr Smith, 36, who lives off Dereham Road, Norwich, and who was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic 21 years ago, said: 'I've done it in one hour and 40 minutes. That's purely running alone so I don't know how much running in a race and having people around you might spur me on. I need to finish that race, pick up the medal, dash to my lift and drive to the match.'
The East Anglian Derby kicks off at Carrow Road on Sunday at 1.15pm. Norwich fan Jake Humphrey will be presenting live coverage of the match from 1pm on BBC1 on Sunday.
For match reports, pictures and analysis, log onto www.eveningnews24.co.uk and click on sport or see the Evening News on Monday.
To listen to a podcast by Evening News sportswriters and columnists looking ahead to Sunday's East Anglian Derby go to www.pinkun.com/podcast