Day 23 – Cambridge-Norwich-Ipswich
So a big double header out East as I took on both Norfolk and Suffolk, namely, the Canaries of Carrow Road, Norwich and the Tractor Boys of Ipswich Town. Now this was a long journey, starting with the ride to Norwich, all 110 kilometres of it.
What my cycling app does is takes me away from a roads if it can and send me through so called ‘cycle paths’. Im not sure what constitutes cycle path to my app. Its a bit like that programme off the tv, ‘Don’t tell the bride’. It obviously does what it thinks I want and its only a matter of time before we divorce. Yesterday, it took me through a field. For 8 miles. Full of sand, big ditches full of water and livestock watching on as I had to wheel my bike around obstacles you’d only expect if you were playing Mario kart. Youre going to call me a liar for saying this being Welsh, but having to walk my bike through 8 miles of sheep is not the way I wanted to spend my afternoon.
So I got to Norwich and made my way to Carrow Road. Now readers of my blog know I love it when a club splash their identity all over a club via their colours and we were off to a good start here as I crossed the bridge.
The predominant yellow and green splashed all over the club shop. And a nice little motif welcoming you in.
However, thats pretty much where it ended. The front of the building retains quite the modest prowess.
The next bit of colour I came across was the buy a brick service that most clubs seem to adopt these days. This time celebrating Norwich’ play off final win in 2015, the 80th anniversary of their ground incidently, not a bad way to celebrate.
Now with every ground you’re going to get different dining experiences. See whenever I go to Cardiff, not wanting to be the sort of dickhead who orders a deliveroo to the stadium to arrive at half time, I’m forced to choose between potential salmonella or nipping over to the nearby Asdas for a couple of dairylea dunkers. You might remember Stadium MK have a Marco Pierre White restaurant attached. Norwich City, however, are part owned by none other, than Delia Smith CBE. As far as footy ground scran goes, the pressure is on.
I mean, she’s even got competition in her own ground.
But damn has Smith turned your staple matchday meat and gristle pie diet on his head. One of the starters for her restaurant is broccoli soufflé with three cheeses and forming hollandaise. Bloody hell and I classed mcnuggets as an upmarket foodstuff on match days. Your main course at ‘Delias’, whilst most of us football folk are umming and aching about whether we want a slice of plastic cheese with our 20% beef 80% roadkill burger, could be ‘Slow braised belly of Norfolk Pork, with bacon, apples and cider. You can forget that fun size Mars bar for desert as well, how about ‘Blackberry and apple clafoutis with vanilla bean ice cream. Delia’s has it. I thought you had to go to the VD clinic to treat clouftis, but little do i know. Smith is serving this up and as staunch lower class football fan as I am, you can shove your 2 week old hotdog. I look forward to the day Nigella Lawson takes over my club. Not least for the Nigella calendar every year in the club shop.
I can’t believe Delia Smith is 79. Nearly as old as Carrow Road. No offence there miss Smith, don’t be poisoning my fois gras coulis next time I’m up there. Most people will remember for her drunken ‘letsbeavenue’ rant at half time during a pitiful Norwich display against Manchester City in 2005. If you haven’t seen it then google it, its magnificent. A drunken chef trying to rally up disgruntled fans is where its at for me. For that pantomime drunk aunty at Christmas performance, Delia and Norwich get a thumbs up 👍
Oh and if you can’t get a ticket for the big games, here’s a little tip from me.
Just book up the premier inn and ask for a back facing room.
It overlooks this.
You’re welcome 👌
Next, I made my way to their big rivals, Ipswich. Theres a reason they are called the tractor boys. The way down told the full story. A ride of sheer hell. This was tough, really tough. For that, today will forever be known as ‘Monica Lewinsky Day’. Because it sucked.
The whole 9 hours, it absolutely bucketed it down. How i didn’t catch pneumonia after today then ill never know. I must be made of magic, like will Smith in that film where he can’t turn into a zombie even if they bite him. I must be immune to even covid, because I was soaked through wetter than an otters pocket. This really was tough. It reminded me why I’m doing this. 41 miles of roads, with no cycleways in the wet weather, giving way to those tractors and cars bombing round you with pot holes full of water the size of a Norwich fans stomach after his pre match meal meant this was near on impossible to get momentum. There was just roads that you couldn’t see the end of, just long roads with grey skies.
At one point, Suffolk decided to unleash sheer hell on me with the introduction of kamikaze insects flying in my direction. No words of a lie but I actually put my bloody covid mask on for about 2 hours. My face looked like an insect graveyard. At one point I thought I had been sucked into Jumanji.
But I managed it, taking 200 kilometres between the two and arrived to a very, very, big surprise awaiting me at Portman Road, home to Ipswich Town.
So wow. Now this ground was incredible. For an old build, fair play it was very impressive.
Its huge all the way round, but the first thing that struck me, as with Newcastle was how much they celebrate the brilliant Sir Bobby Robson,
With his face emblazoned on the stadium as I approached it adjoining the ‘Bobby Robson Stand’.
They also have a statue of the footballing legend.
And the town have even erected a bridge in his honour.
Class. But what else does the this football icon deserve? There should be more of this kind of homage considering how important these people are in local communities and integrated societies. I talked about Sir Bobby when I visited St James’ Park, this man is so rightly revered in footballing circles, that I quite literally, cannot find anyone who would, or could find a bad word to say about Sir Bobby. Another bunch of fitting tributes, to one of the games greatest.They also celebrate former manager and England World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsay with a statue.
And a road.
Mind you, if Ryan Giggs wins the World Cup for Wales we would name the country after him.The stadium, is grand, blue and huge, with the kids team having space to train directly outside the grounds entrance. Mind you you’d need a huge car park for all them tractors.
A quite brilliant stadium. Very impressive and is certainly one of my favourites on the trip so far. Ipswich Town, fair play, Portman Road is a bloody brilliant ground 👏
As I said earlier, the trip down here was hard. Everything was dull, lifeless and exhaustive. You try pushing yourself more and more as at the end of the day, that long, endless road is a road you have no option but to go down. Im learning a lot about peoples mental health problems from talking to them on this journey and what I’ve just described is how people with depression feel. Except, I chose to do this. They, however dont have a choice in how they feel.So if you are on that endless road right now, please click the ‘I’m not ok’ button.
I don’t want anyone else to feel like there’s no end to their own despair or no way out.
Remember, its ok not to be ok ❤
You lot are helping incredibly, to todays donators, including James, Jamie, Sammie, better than Robbie Tony Lewis and the incredible team at Preston North End Football Club, who again, went above and beyond had a whipround, thank you, incredible gesture which takes us to just over £5,000!!!!
Together we got this