Historic rivalry between Suffolk and Norfolk intensified today with news that the neighbouring East Anglian counties are separated by tectonic plates.
Geologists have discovered the plates stretching nearly 70 miles along the Suffolk-Norfolk border, from Brandon in the west to Beccles and Bungay in the east.
And they admit the extraordinary discovery might even explain the fierce football rivalry between Norwich City and their more illustrious and trophy-winning rivals Ipswich Town.
While it has always been accepted that the earth is composed of seven or eight major plates forming the continents, new surveying techniques are allowing geologists to uncover a number of minor plates all over the world.
“This is an interesting but not wholly unexpected discovery,” explained Professor Ian Pickett of UEA in Norwich. “This may be a small plate relative to the largest continents, but it is an important development in our understanding of the geology of England and East Anglia.
“And to have it quite literally on our doorstep is very fortunate for geologists like me.”
Professor Pickett believes the plates and the county border are exactly aligned and that Norfolk used to be what geologists term as a “mini isolated continent”.
Experts say this would explain why traditionally the county is known for its backward thinking and inbreeding.
And the football rivalry could certainly be fuelled by these unseen underground forces.
“Absolutely,” Professor Pickett said. “Although not in my case as I support Charlton Athletic. But perhaps it’s no coincidence that the north folk of Norfolk and the south folk of Suffolk drew the county line where it is back in the 5th century.
“Don’t underestimate our forebears – the Angles would probably have had knowledge of the once great natural divide.”
But sports fan David Peters, 49, from Beccles dismissed the idea that this has anything do to with football allegiance.
“It’s a load of rubbish. I’m Suffolk born and bred but have always supported Norwich. It’s a lot closer to me than Ipswich and the wife does the shopping there.”
Meanwhile Janice Davey, of Bungay was more open to the idea. The 45-year-old said: “I’ve been a Town fan all of my life. I might live nearer Norwich but as a Suffolk girl I feel loyalty to the county town of Ipswich.
“Norwich might be in the Premier League now while Ipswich are down in the Championship – but form is temporary, class is permanent.”
Fears that the recently-found tectonic plates could cause earthquakes were allayed by locals. Doris Dawkins, 86, from Beccles, who lives with her long-suffering husband Fred, said nothing like that had ever happened.
“Certainly the earth hasn’t moved in my house for years,” she laughed.
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