|[Blog] Remembering Sir Bobby in Broad Street|
Written by TimS on Tuesday, 29th Sep 2009 16:46
<i>I know that Birmingham has its critics. In some areas, it has the appearance of a budget version of Dallas, but I am growing to like Britain’s second city. The football is plentiful in the region and of a decent quality too at a very decent price. I have enjoyed a number of trips to Villa Park, Molineux and St Andrews since I have been living in the area, but my hometown team in Suffolk remains close to my heart. </i>
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For the sake of catching Ipswich v Newcastle, I found myself in Broad Street in Birmingham in the late sun of a September Saturday afternoon. It is not an area that I know well, although I do know that that the street has a bit of a reputation and the various drunken fights and other incidents can form useful filler during a slow news day for <i>Midlands Today</i>. Back in the seventies and eighties, Broad Street seemed to be the place to be for Friday and Saturday nights, next to ATV’s studios of <i>Crossroads</i>, <i>TISWAS</i> and <i>Celebrity Squares</i>..
Times have changed. The city has developed and the nightlife has generally moved on to another area of the city and Broad Street is left with the dregs, the desperately cheap drinks deals and the neon lighted clubs. The street seemed to be full of 20-something Hoxton-finned men clad in Paul Smith and Ben Sherman looking for a vibrant night out.
I was in a sports bar on Broad Street to catch a memorable day in the history of my beloved Ipswich Town Football Club. Having never been in a similar bar before, I was taken aback by TVs across the ceiling, on pillars, in little snug areas, surrounding bars and probably in the toilets. The customers were mostly male, having spent the afternoon watching the results come in across the country.
Having spent too many trips to bars, where I was forced to catch football from behind pillars, on tiny TVs to the background of S-Club and Kylie, this bar seemed to be a pub delivered from heaven.
Despite the surroundings and the company of Shak, who is fast becoming a friend suffering every miserable step of Ipswich’s 2009-2010 season, I should have been at Portman Road. I was surrounded by football fans in the West Midlands, but I should have been with my own in Suffolk. The 26th September seemed to come from nowhere. I should have made time to get to Portman Road, and this stadium was bathed in sun, with the stands full to bursting of passionate fans.
The pre-match singing was beautiful and just about managed to permeate my heart through the plasma screened TV. People knock Britain, but the country can do ceremony with a perfect tone. Millionaires may be taking their financial share of football, but the game can still remember its own in style. The powers-that-be at Portman Road had organised a flawless ceremony.
I was with a friend who has never been to Ipswich before in his life. I am convinced that I am the first Ipswich fan that he has ever known, and he treats me like a newly discovered fossil. He wants to know more but is not quite sure what to find when I take him to Suffolk for a game. He knows that I care about Ipswich to levels that are probably not great for my health, but I slightly feel that he does not quite get what I see in a club that was last at the top of the football tree nearly a decade ago.
I launched into a great description of Portman Road and the various seats where I have watched the memorable games of the past. I started to explain a bit about the Town, and Shak maintained a face of tolerance coping with the minutes whilst ‘Tim went off on one’.
Watching any Ipswich game starts off a load of reminiscence about the great games of the last 30 years. Watching the Ipswich heroes of the past made it a little easier to talk about the history. I hope that Shak was impressed. I was not quite sure, and I guess that I will never know.
For the first 30 minutes, I was fairly contented with the action and seemed to forget that I was not at Ipswich. I was even fairly relaxed after the first goal went it. It seems to be par for the course for Ipswich this season, that my team will be 1-0 down before they do anything in a game. 2-0 set the alarm bells ringing. 3-0 then 4-0 was not how the story was meant to be, but when have the fairy tales been confidently written in football?
Whilst sipping an increasingly flat lemonade, I watched the half-time events with my mind split between the pitch and what was happening in the dressing room. I will always remember the sight of Lady Robson just about managing to maintain composure in the most emotional of circumstances. I never knew that Ipswich fans could sing in tune when they belted out <i>My Way</i> into the purple haze of the setting sun. It could have meant so much more, if Town had been leading at the break.
My friend did not quite know what to say, as the defeat became more of a certainty. I was gabbling away to try and hide the disappointment and a certain amount of anger. Shak has still got to see Ipswich win in my presence. We have watched the team live and via the cathode ray and satellite dish in various establishments across the Midlands.
I appreciate that there were other issues at stake that had to be addressed at Portman Road, but I am a little bit worried about where my team will be when the final places will be decided next May.
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