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Whose Territory Is It?

Whilst on holiday in 19-- in Minorca I was sitting on the beach getting extremely hot and wondering how Norwich City Football Club had done in their first match of the new season.

Now being a former British colony and being in easy reach of the United Kingdom and with its fine Mediterranean climate, Minorca has plenty of British visitors every year.

The couple enjoying the sun behind us had a copy of the Sunday Mirror newspaper. I asked to borrow it in order to check the scores. Norwich won 2-1 (goals by Bellamy and Kenton, the latter with his first for the club). Now that score is pretty irrelevant to what I am writing about and even more irrelevant unless you are one of the minuscule proportion of the world's population who are remotely interested in the fortunes of Norwich City.

The couple just happened to come from Ipswich. Now let me explain for anybody reading this who does not understand the geography of England. Norwich is in the county of Norfolk and Ipswich is in the next county - Suffolk.

Now for some reason people from Norfolk and Suffolk don't like each other. Most of the rivalry is actually good natured banter - the kind of humour that only the English seem to understand. East Anglian humour (and East Anglia is an area that includes both Norfolk and Suffolk) is biting and quite aggressive. Like as not if you are insulted in a jocular fashion by somebody from East Anglia it is a sure sign that person likes you. I know this concept is difficult to grasp, but it is true.

Some of the rivalry, however, is thoroughly nasty and deliberately aggressive and nowhere is this more apparent than in football matches between Ipswich and Norwich which at times in the past have turned into pitch battles with numerous police arrests for violent behaviour.

I think you have to understand the British race to grasp the territorial way that they hold onto things. If you live in Norwich it is almost compulsory to hate everyone and everything about Ipswich and vice-versa. The same of course is true in other parts of the country. If for instance you live in Nottingham (as I once had the misfortune to do - whoops see I'm falling into my own trap) you hate people from Derby or Leicester. If you live in Newcastle (and I never have) you hate Sunderland and Middlesbrough. So you are probably beginning to get my drift.

When it comes to football (or soccer if you are reading this in the USA) this tribal rivalry can divide a city if that city has more than one team such as Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool to name but three.

Of course this rivalry isn't confined to football but is found in many other areas of British life. It is a unique reflection of us as a race and perhaps a commentary on the stupidity of certain individuals.