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Rival City Town fans pulling together

PUBLISHED: 09:35 10 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:25 05 July 2010

PRIDE OF ANGLIA: James Croome and Oliver Back in training.

PRIDE OF ANGLIA: James Croome and Oliver Back in training.

AS every football fan knows there is little love lost between Norwich City and Ipswich Town.

But Canaries' fan Oliver Back and Blues' supporter James Croome will have to put their clubs' history to one side when they take part in a gruelling ocean challenge.

GEARING UP: James Croome and Oliver Back.

AS every football fan knows there is little love lost between Norwich City and Ipswich Town.

But Canaries' fan Oliver Back and Blues' supporter James Croome will have to put their clubs' history to one side when they take part in a gruelling ocean challenge.

The 25-year-olds have given themselves a target of 55 days to complete the 3,000 mile Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race - the equivalent of them each rowing a marathon a day.

And thousands of miles from home, with endless ocean all around, the last thing they want is to fall out over derby day rivalry.

But the pair, who have been friends since their schooldays, are confident their teams' varying fortunes will not get in the way of their success.

“We have been best of mates since we were at school and lived with each other throughout university,” Mr Croome said. “There's always been a bit of healthy banter.”

Mr Back, who is from Oulton Broad, added: “It's all very friendly. Unfortunately James has had a few more bragging rights of late but hopefully that will change.”

The friends decided to take part after Mr Back's girlfriend's brother completed the challenge as part of a four-man team.

“There's a bit of one-up-man-ship about it,” Mr Croome said. “We thought that if they can do it with four, we'd give it a go with two. We've always wanted to do something adventurous and this seemed a break from the norm. It's a great opportunity to really push ourselves.”

Mr Croome and Mr Back, who met in 1995 at Norwich School, will take it in turns to row shifts, with the other navigating, cooking or cleaning the boat.

The friends, who now both live in London, are training down at Burnham-on-Crouch, in Essex, and have been hitting the water every weekend.

Mr Croome, whose parents live near Dereham, said: “We're both quite sporty but prior to this we hadn't done any rowing. It's a very steep learning curve. It's exhausting.”

The pair, who are being sponsored by Mr Croome's employers, insurance company QBE, are raising money for East Anglia's Children's Hospices and The Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The challenge starts on December 6 from La Gomera in the Canary Islands and finishes at Nelson's Dockyard English Harbour in Antigua.

For more information visit the rowing event's website www.atlanticrow2009.com

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