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Dereham canary nut seeing red over Blues shirt

PUBLISHED: 12:30 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:46 07 July 2010

Die-hard Canary fan Angie Neave will be wearing an Ipswich shirt for Sport Relief at Sainsbury's in Longwater Lane, Norwich, where she works

Die-hard Canary fan Angie Neave will be wearing an Ipswich shirt for Sport Relief at Sainsbury's in Longwater Lane, Norwich, where she works

Rob Garratt

To football fans there can be little more repulsive than the sight of an arch rival's club colours, and for many Norwich fans the idea of wearing a combination of blue and white is enough to cause a bout of nausea.

To football fans there can be little more repulsive than the sight of an arch rival's club colours, and for many Norwich fans the idea of wearing a combination of blue and white is enough to cause a bout of nausea.

But City fanatic and Dereham mum Angie Neave is preparing to stomach the ultimate insult and don an Ipswich shirt for a day - in a tragicomic stunt to raise cash for charity.

And she is being egged on by a diehard Ipswich supporter and colleague prepared to share in the hurt and humiliation by pulling on canary colours.

Super-fan Mrs Neave is notorious among her colleagues at the Norwich Sainsbury's in Longwater Lane for her canary-crazed antics, which include a decorated car, a yellow and green lounge and a Norwich-themed silver wedding.

The mother-of-three even swears she has worn one yellow and one green sock for every day of the last decade, and says the best bit of her job is bumping into players like Wes Hoolahan, Paul McVeigh and Matt Gill who regularly shop at the store.

But the bitterest pill to swallow is the knowledge that the ex-fan of the year nominee will face the humiliation of wearing the Tractor Boys' colours tomorrow - the day she celebrates her 54th birthday.

“I am disgusted just looking at the shirt,” complained Angie. “Bringing the shirt to work I felt physically sick, it's a horrible feeling - but it's for a good cause.”

The offending clothing item is being stored in the shed of Mrs Neave's Toftwood home, in Boyd Avenue, in the run-up to Friday, when she will be collecting money wearing the shirt at the entrance of the supermarket from around 10am.

Joining her will be Ipswich supporter Alan Percy, who managed to keep his true colours undercover for his first two years over the border at the Norwich supermarket - until one day last year when he dropped his keys and they were handed in at reception, dangling on a blue and white key ring.

The team leader admits he will have an easier ride than Angie by committing the sacrilege on enemy turf, and said he would never wear the Canary colours back at his home town Newmarket, Suffolk.

“I am really proud of Angie,” said Mr Percy, 34. “Wearing the Norwich shirt my heart just starts thumping.”

The stunt is part of a bid by the store's staff to raise more than £5,000 for Sports Relief, a three-day fundraising drive for Comic Refief that kicks off on tomorrow. Mr Percy, who lives in Costessey's Poethlyn Drive with wife Jo, 34, and two-year-old daughter Isabella, will also be completing a sponsored triathlon and taking part in the Sports Relief Mile in Norwich on Sunday.

Another employee, Matt Buckley, will be cycling 200 miles around every Sainsbury's store in Norfolk - from Yarmouth to King's Lynn to Thetford to Sheringham, and several in between - in 14 hours.

Mrs Neave made the last five in a competition in 2004 by Radio Broadland to find the best City supporter, and is married to Carrow Road fire safety officer Malcolm with three Norwich City supporting sons, including Anthony, 19, Liam, 15.

Her eldest son, Jamie, 23, of Milton Close, Dereham, prides himself on converting his Chelsea-supporting girlfriend Jess to the club, and celebrated his 18th birthday on the day of Norwich's promotion parade in 2004.

Customer service worker Christine Meale convinced Mrs Neave to take part in the shirt-swapping stunt. She said: “I never thought Angie would do it, it was a joke to start with, she said 'not for a million pounds'. She is so passionate about Norwich and hates Ipswich so much, she's the biggest fan I know.”

Donning the shirt of hurt

Passionate canary fan Mrs Neave is not the only one to stomach the pain of donning a rival club's repellent colours.

Sports Relief's Shirt of Hurt challenge also saw broadcaster and Millwall devotee Danny Baker swapping shirts with diehard West Ham fan Ray Winstone live on radio on Saturday.

Before that football pundit and lifelong West Bromwich Albion fan Adrian Chiles donned a Wolverhampton Wanderers shirt to present Match of the Day 2, while Liverpool supporter and DJ Colin Murray joined him by pulling on an Everton jersey.

Shortly after Chiles' stunt the tables were turned when former England and Wolves striker Steve Bull put on a West Brom shirt.


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