Ipswich: Warning to True Blues and Canaries ahead of East Anglian derby
Supporters of Ipswich and Norwich were today warned to behave themselves before, during and after next Thursday’s East Anglian derby.
Around 300 police officers, supported by dog handlers and six Essex Constabulary horses, will be on duty as part of a massive operation for the first evening derby for 13 years.
Since the appalling scenes at Ipswich railway station after Town’s 1-0 defeat at Portman Road in October 1998 when police baton charged yobs after bricks and bottles were hurled at them, the two sides have always played on a Sunday.
The potential powderkeg of an evening game, which begins at 7.45pm on the eve of Easter weekend, has been at the forefront of police thinking. This has been compounded by vandalism in the visitors’ area at Carrow Road earlier in the season, and a disturbance at Norwich railway station after the game which Town lost 4-1.
Superintendent John Everett, of Suffolk Constabulary – who will be in charge of the match-day operation – said: “This year’s fixture is going to be more challenging than the games have been of late, so it has put a bit of a different perspective on things.
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“We want people to come and have a good time. Norwich had a good win at Carrow Road and that will potentially influence people’s behaviour.
“Derby games are always challenging, but this year has been an exception. We will have a firm, friendly approach to the game, but we will take positive action if we get criminal offences being committed or if we get other kinds of disorder.
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“It is very, very easy for emotions to boil over. For some reason it goes beyond the ‘risk element’. Even the most responsible of people get emotional and act out of character.
“We want people to enjoy themselves, have a good time, and start the Easter weekend in a good way.”
With around 2,500 Norwich fans expected little has been left to chance during a complex planning operation that began in November.
One of the key issues for police is the potential for people to spend a significant part of the day drinking alcohol before going to the game.
Pubs and clubs have been visited by police in the run-up to the match, and plastic glasses will be used in licensed premises in a bid to reduce potential problems.
Supt Everett said: “We want people to act and drink responsibly
“The visits are about making sure we have not got readily available weapons about the place, such as billiard cues and billiard balls.
“We have been to licensed premises and off licenses. We have had a lot of support from licensees and Ipswich Borough Council’s licensing team.”