Jason Dozzell: Local lad Luke Hyam must whip up the Ipswich Town dressing room ahead of East Anglian derby

Jason Dozzell in action during the 3-1 win over Norwich in 1993

Jason Dozzell in action during the 3-1 win over Norwich in 1993 - Credit: Archant

Local lad Luke Hyam must whip up the Ipswich Town dressing room ahead of Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated East Anglian derby clash with Norwich City.

So says former Blues midfielder Jason Dozzell, the man who played that very role during his time as a player.

Dozzell was born in Ipswich, grew up a passionate Town fan and made his first team debut as a 15-year-old while still studying at Chantry High School.

Hyam is now the present day squad’s local lad, the former Northgate High School set to make his East Anglian derby debut at the weekend.

“I was a big Ipswich fan before I became a player,” said Dozzell, now an academy coach at Playford Road, his son Andre – recently called up to the England Under-16 squad – one of the most exciting young prospects at Playford Road.

“In the days when those derby matches were played on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, I was the first in the stadium at Portman Road to watch the crowd streaming in.

“And I used to go up on the train to Carrow Road and be hurded towards the stadium and the Barclays end.

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“I’d grown up with that rivalry, so it meant a lot to me to play in those matches. I was in the dressing room geeing the boys up and telling them ‘this means a hell of a lot’.

“You need someone doing that and I guess it will be someone like Luke Hyam doing that this time around.

“Fans are very tribal and they would say ‘I don’t care if we don’t win another game this season, just make sure you win this one’.”

Ipswich lost 4-1 at Carrow Road and 5-1 at Portman Road the last time the two clubs were in the same division, Paul Lambert’s side going on to claim back-to-back promotions. Now, following a three-year stint in the top-flight, the fixture is back following the Norfolk club’s relegation.

“I played in my first one when I was 17,” recalls Dozzell. “It was the semi-finals of the League Cup and we were 1-0 up from the home leg. We lost 2-0 at Carrow Road, missed out on Wembley and I was devastated.

“So when I scored twice in that 3-1 home win over them in 1993 (in the Premiership) you can imagine the feeling. Those two goals are up there in terms of the best I’ve felt on a football pitch.

“I think everyone is looking forward to the return of these matches.”

Tommy Smith – who started the 4-1 loss at Carrow Road in 2010 – is the only member of the current Town squad to have experienced an East Anglian derby, with the quartet of John Ruddy, Andrew Surman, Russell Martin and Wes Hoolahan the players still at Norwich who featured in those grudge matches three years ago.

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