Ipswich Witches and King's Lynn... A derby to rival any in the sport
PUBLISHED: 17:30 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:41 03 April 2019
It's more than 16 years since Ipswich Witches and King's Lynn Stars went head-to-head in a competitive meeting. But that is all set to change on Thursday night... As the Norfolk/Suffolk rivalry recommences at Foxhall Stadium. MIKE BACON takes a look.
Everyone loves a local derby!
There is nothing like getting one over your ‘nearest and dearest’. And on Thursday night at Foxhall Stadium, the first Suffolk/Norfolk speedway derby of the season takes place.
Now, before I start you can pipe down about, ‘oh, it’s just another meeting’.
Ipswich v King’s Lynn has never been – and never will be – ‘just another meeting’.
The rivalry goes back decades, is deep-rooted and the fans of both sides are always desperate to get one over the other.
Yet, incredibly it’s been 16 years since the two teams last met in an ‘official’ fixture.
OK, so you can count the East Anglian Cup clashes back in 2008 if you wish.
It was an early season two-legged challenge affair and the Witches thrashed Lynn (nothing new). Ipswich were an Elite League side at the time, and the Stars Premier League.
It wasn’t an official fixture.... Tonight is!
The Witches have always been the bigger club with a much bigger history... Wooooohhhh! I can hear the screams in Norfolk now.... But the stats don’t lie.
Ipswich have been one of the biggest names in the top tier of speedway for decades.
Four Division One championships and five KO Cup victories, including that brilliant treble in 1998 ensures the Foxhall trophy cabinet has a far more impressive haul than their Norfolk rivals – if not in quantity, certainly quality.
Not that Lynn haven’t achieved, you understand.
In the Premier League (the second tier of the sport), throughout the 2000s they were dominant, with 12 trophies secured... The Witches haven’t grabbed any silverware, apart from one Fours victory in 2011, since 1998! Poor form.
So, the history is all Witches, although more recently Lynn know what it takes to win titles, even if not at the highest level.
The quality of riders that have ridden for both clubs.... Betts, Louis, Jessup, Lee, Hellsen, Sanders, Sigalos, Davey, Simmons, Cook, Gollob, Nicholls, Rickardsson, Doncaster... A plethora of world talent.
As a nipper my first-ever Witches/Lynn clash was on ‘away’ territory. I went up in a mini-bus to watch Ipswich at Saddlebow Road one morning, sometime in the late ‘70s, the first part of those wonderful Good Friday ‘double headers’, when we all raced back to Foxhall for part two in the afternoon.
I loved it, even if it took me a while to get used to watching my heroes in ‘away’ helmet colours of white and yellow & black.
As had become custom then, Ipswich fans had taken over the whole of the second bend. Such great support.
There were many heated clashes, none more so than when the Witches travelled to Saddlebow Road in 1999, with the Lynn management placing Witches effigies on the centre green, one to be lit and burned every time Lynn got a 5-1 maximum.
The Witches ran out easy winners that night – and embarrassingly for the home team, none were burned! Well, not by the Stars anyhow, although some did go up in flames!!!
But history is history.
So, Thursday night begins a new chapter of confrontation between the two sides. A chance for heroes to be made. A chance for fans to celebrate.
Because make no bones about it, this speedway derby has been a long time in the waiting.
Bring it on!