Former referee Keith Hackett remembers players coming out like boxers for East Anglian Derby

1985 Milk Cup semi-final second-leg; Norwich v Ipswich

1985 Milk Cup semi-final second-leg; Norwich v Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Ipswich and Norwich fans will probably only ever be united when singing the praises of their derby above all others – now a former referee has said the East Anglian Derby was the most aggressive he ever officiated.

Keith Hackett officiated at the top level domestically and internationally over three decades and recently compiled a list of his most memorable grounds to ref at for

While neither Portman Road nor Carrow Road made the top 10 outright, an honourable mention does go to a particularly feisty Old Farm Derby.

Mr Hackett was in charge for the 1985 Milk Cup semi-final second-leg between the two rivals, a game that Town fans remember for all the wrong reasons.

Not only did the club lose 2-1 on aggregate (1-0 home win, 2-0 away loss) but scorer of the goal at Portman Road, Mich d’Avray, collapsed after receiving a nasty knock to his head.

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Mr Hackett said: “There are certain derby fixtures that you always know are going to be highly charged, but the East Anglian Derby tops the lot.

“The players came out of the tunnel as if they were ready for a boxing match. The noise was intense and aggressive.”

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On the incident with d’Avray he added: “(He) collapsed after accidently heading his opponent.

“You could see he was in trouble so I ran over and his tongue appeared to be blocking his airway, so I flicked it aside to help him.

“Mich was taken to hospital but he recovered and later he called me to say thank you.”

Also playing in the match was ITFC midfielder Jason Dozzell, then just 17-years-old. He also remembers it as a particularly aggressive game.

“I remember it vividly,” he said .”It was one of the dirtiest games I played in. We were kicked off the park, we got kicked to shreds.

“I’ve got friends who went and they agreed. I think there were about 10,000 Ipswich fans who travelled up to the game.”

Dozzell also said he remembers captain Terry Butcher “going ballistic” at the end of the game – perhaps the reason Mr Hackett recalls the game so well.

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