MAUNDY Thursday kicks off the Easter period today but this year is the one marked in East Anglia calendars not with a cross, but a big red circle: Derby Thursday.
And all Town fans will be hoping it is Norwich paying out on the day our Monarch traditionally undoes her own purse strings.
All season we have watched on as those chirpy Canaries up the A140 have proved the Championship’s surprise package - with little in the way of resources thrown at it - while an expensively assembled Ipswich side have treaded water.
But a new manager, and renewed belief, signals the dawn of a new era in the Old Farm Derby - looking to erase the pain of Roy Keane’s only miserable appearance, a 4-1 hiding at Carrow Road in November.
In a cauldron of noise at Portman Road, at the refreshing time of 7.45pm tonight (to avoid Bank Holiday train problems - not police overtime rates!), there is a chance to be the ultimate party poopers..
Last time Norwich went up Town fans were taunted as they went top of the league at Portman Road (unfortunately the words perfectly fitted the well-known Tom Hark terrace ditty, played after every goal).
Now all that is left of Town’s season boils down to one thing – stopping the Old Enemy in their automatic promotion pursuit.
While Norwich have shown the first signs of an end-of-season wobble, Ipswich have shown bags of character – coming from 3-1 down to draw with Middlesbrough last Tuesday and beating Bristol City 1-0 with 10 men for the majority of the game
on Saturday, to record four wins from the last five. Only one will go into the game with promotion form, but it’s not those in green and yellow.
After almost negotiating the impossible at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, this is Jewell’s first big test, after the likeable scouser has taken us into the top half of the table for the first time.
Danny Haynes was the Canary Crusher, but perhaps another youth product, Josh Carson, is now set to earn himself a place in East Anglian Derby folklore.
It’s been too long since the Blues had a player prepared to dazzle from the wings and the fans are loving every minute of his refreshing emergence in the first team, grabbing his third league goal - now past Tamas Priskin’s feeble return - in only his fifth start.
The ‘P’ word (two words with a hyphen, technically, is still banned from this column at this point and tonight’s game is about pride above all else.
Easter, though,is the perfect time for Jewell, Clegg and Evans to hatch a plan for next season. And it’s not rocket science: knock the Canaries off their perch and watch those season ticket applications swell!
* FOLLOW @russclaydon on http://twitter.com for live action and comment from the East Anglian derby at Portman Road, including line-ups at 7pm and post-match comments.