What makes a derby special?
Former Norwich striker Iwan Roberts remembers the events of 19 March, 2000 like they were yesterday. It was the first game of Bryan Hamilton's nine-month spell in charge of the Canaries and came towards the end of a mediocre season for the Norfolk side.
With only one win in their previous 10 matches, Norwich were hardly in the best form as they prepared to travel to Portman Road for an East Anglian derby. But that counted for little as the Canaries defeated Ipswich 2-0. What's more, Roberts scored both goals.
I asked the Welshman if he could remember them and he immediately reeled off two detailed descriptions. This is what he said of goal number two: "It came from an Ipswich corner. Andy Marshall got both hands to the ball and threw it to Paul Dalglish on the right wing. He made a great run before picking me out at the back post. I controlled it with my thigh and shaped to shoot. Fabian Wilnis turned his back so I went past him, kept my head and placed it past Richard Wright, shooting to his left. Then I was off, all the way down the pitch to celebrate with the Norwich fans in the corner."
Roberts scored more than 200 goals in his career but rates that as one of his favourites. For Matt Holland, who was on the opposing side that day, the goal conjures up different memories. That's because the former Ipswich skipper spent the best part of an hour trying to get out of the car park at Portman Road following defeat that day.
Holland (left) and Roberts (second left) enjoyed playing in the Anglian derby. Photo: Getty
"Every Ipswich supporter stopped me and wanted to know what went wrong - it was really quite heated," Holland, a central midfielder, told me. "You are as disappointed as them but they want answers. I was trying to take the sting out of the situation."
Holland played in eight East Anglian derbies, Roberts in seven. Five times they were on opposite sides. "You were fired up for those games in particular," says Holland. "The build-up starts two to three weeks in advance. In the days before the game, every paper you pick up has articles about previous games, head-to-heads etc."
On Sunday, Ipswich travel to Norwich for the first derby since Roy Keane took over at Portman Road and Paul Lambert was appointed manager of the Canaries. Between them, they have experienced some of football's biggest rivalries - Manchester United v Manchester City, Schalke v Borussia Dortmund, Celtic v Rangers - and are strong-willed characters with an unyielding desire to be successful.
Their teams are currently separated by three points and five places in the middle reaches of a congested Championship table. Norwich are eighth, with just goal difference separating them from a play-off place. Ipswich are 13th and in something of a slump after three straight defeats.
Yet both Holland and Roberts insist form is often irrelevant when it comes to a derby. They say it is the team that handles the pressure of the situation that often triumphs.
"From a manager's perspective, the key to these games is trying to treat it as normally as possible," says Holland. "You have to make sure that you don't fire your players up too much. The build-up and the atmosphere in and around the ground does that."
Roberts, who played for Norwich from 1997 until 2004, paints a vivid picture of what it is like in the dressing room in the hour before kick-off.
"It is a strange place to be," he says. "An hour before the game there is always music. I was never one to waste energy before a game. I would sit by my peg and gather my thoughts. About 45 minutes before kick-off, the manager would come in and have a few words and we would then go out and warm up. Afterwards, we would come back in and do a few final things. Some people, for example, have superstitions. Literally a couple of minutes before kick-off, the manager would have his final say and then send us out."
Roberts remembers Malky Mackay and Craig Fleming pumping everyone up and says Phil Mulryne was always a lively presence. In the Town dressing room, Holland, as skipper, says he would speak to various players to make sure they were in the right frame of mind before focusing on what he himself had to do in the match. Apparently, Jason Cundy was the type to bang his head against the wall to psyche himself up.
Holland, an Ipswich player from 1997 until 2003, reckons that the derby games were so high tempo that they often passed in a blur and were often niggly and tight affairs. You have to go back 17 games to the last time the A140 derby was settled by more than two goals. That was Febuary 1998, when Ipswich won 5-0. Not surprisingly, it is Holland's favourite encounter with Norwich.
You often hear derbies talked about in terms of bragging rights for supporters. Holland and Roberts agree there is great joy to be had in beating their rivals but also speak about the relief of sending fans home happy. Doing so meant they did not have to skulk down the supermarket aisles in subsequent weeks for fear of being recognised.
The prospect of disappointing the fans was a huge incentive. Photo: Getty
"You cannot really enjoy the day or the occasion until you win," says Roberts. "But it is only another game. You don't get six points for beating your arch rivals. The day we won 2-0, we were singing and boisterous but there was no champagne or anything like that."
From park football to the highest stage, there is a respect to be forged when you test yourself against a tough opponent. Roberts describes his battles with ex-Ipswich defender Tony Mowbray as "nothing dirty but two honest pros going about their job".
A team of Norwich legends took on their Ipswich counterparts in a match in Great Yarmouth earlier this year. Holland, who used to regularly cover 13km in a match and is still in good shape, played in the fixture, which his team won 2-1. Roberts managed 45 minutes but the hard surface gave his knees problems and he was withdrawn at the break. Nevertheless, he enjoyed watching a tackle that Fleming made on Holland.
"The competitive juices were still flowing," says Roberts. "It did not compare to a proper derby but we still didn't want to lose. There is talk of a second leg so it is not done yet."
There was no derby last season because Norwich were on a season-long sojourn in League One. The last match between the two sides, which took place in April 2009, ended in a 3-2 win for Ipswich, a result that pushed Norwich closer to relegation.
Of the 22 players that started that game, only Ipswich midfielders David Norris and Alan Quinn remain. With so many new faces set to make their East Anglian derby debut on Sunday, I asked Roberts if he had any advice for the combatants ahead of the Carrow Road clash.
His answer was this: "Don't let nerves get the better of you. A derby is something to enjoy but does not come around all that often. There is a chance for someone to write a page in the history books. Go out and grab it with both hands."
Norwich City v Ipswich Town is live on BBC One on Sunday from 1300 GMT, with the game kicking off at 1315 GMT.