|[Blog] Good Ideas But Will They Last?: Plus A Word On Ticket Prices|
Written by TimS on Sunday, 4th Dec 2011 20:23
I suppose that Town are in another crisis. The first time that I wrote for TWTD was in the post-play-off crisis of 2005. I was so incensed by the sale of Town’s then-best players that I wasted a university afternoon writing an essay about what I thought had gone wrong at Portman Road.
Crises seem to happen about twice a season during the last ten years. I guess that some people would believe that the club has been in permanent crisis since that May 2002 day when we fell out of the Premiership.
When you are away from Suffolk, in the BBC Spotlight area of the UK, you rely on your Town news via the net, and the odd snatched TV or radio game. You make the effort to get to the away games near to your local area (which is difficult in the South-West - is Southampton local?) and the odd home game when you are ‘back in the patch.’
However, in times like this, you are quite pleased to be away from Suffolk so you do not have to listen to the moans and groans on the local phone-ins and the streets. There is a limit to what you can take.
When Town are on one of their losing runs, the misery is in your face all the while. Walk down Princes Street, turning to your left, and you will see the stage where the latest defeat had taken place last Saturday. Delivery vans move in and out of the ground. People are in the shop, and you start to wonder whether you are over-reacting and does anyone really care.
Reading the very latest blogs on this site gives me heart that people are thinking further about this club, other than why we are not knocking on the door of automatic promotion to the Premiership. Formations on the park are one thing, and the name of the manager is another thing, but there are big issues at Ipswich Town Football Club on and off the pitch. Here are a few thoughts and reactions to what people are saying.
Off the pitch, I can not argue with the fact that prices are too expensive at Portman Road whether you are a season ticket holder of a casual visitor. I appreciate that going to the football is not a cheap activity but to expect someone to pay £34 to sit in a semi-empty stadium with the feeling that the club regards you as a gullible guest at a dull dinner party, which has been hyped up beyond all belief by the local media? Surely the club are having a laugh.
There are not remotely enough ticket deals or offers. I lived in the West Midlands for four years, and football seemed to be unbelievably cheap at the local Premiership grounds. It felt a bit embarrassing when you would be watching Aston Villa, in the Martin O’Neill years, at virtually half the price of the ticket on that same Saturday to watch Town versus some random Championship team.
Most of the Midlands teams would be holding some deal each weekend. They seemed to want you to spent your Saturday afternoon at their club. I have never felt remotely wanted by my club in recent years. I know season ticket holders who feel the same.
Being away from Suffolk, it is difficult to gauge the mood leading up to the game. You can read the feel good pieces from the Town website or from local media outlets. It is probable that I will come across a carefully positioned piece that suggests that fans are fantastic, everyone is pulling in the right direction, Paul Jewell has landed his dream job in Suffolk and Marcus Evans can not believe his luck in having the privilege in bank-rolling Ipswich Town Football Club.
There may be a player who talks about how playing for Ipswich has made his life complete. This is all very feel good stuff but I would suggest that supporters want a bit more meat than this, preferably on the pitch; particularly after 10 years of weekly false dawns in the Championship.
After paying my £34 for a ticket, and apologetically entering the ground at 2.30 or 2.45pm on a Saturday afternoon, in the warm glow that Lee Bowyer can not think of anything better than playing for Town, I will sit down and watch the game.
Unless you are probably forty years-plus, you will not remember the Robson years, but you will probably be told about them. Any football club should be proud of their history, and I like to have a bit of a sense of pride that Town did win the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981.
I guess that the idea of the Ipswich way stems from those days, and I have no problem with whatever that way means. However, I also remember the same comments from fellow Town fans ‘ back in the day’ that expressed frustration that the passing game was not bringing many results and creating endless frustration that no one would take a shot on goal, unless they were virtually touching the goal line.
Like the greatest Town sides, the passing game was great on the eye when the team played well. If whoever future Town manager, is schooled in the Ipswich way, I would hope that fans would still be supportive of their team even in times of trouble, when results or ‘luck’ is not going their way.
Then there is the youth issue. I agree that there is nothing better to see a youth team player breaking into the first team. We have seen a few down the years. Some of them move away from Portman Road to bigger things. Back in the hills of South West of England, it seems that many of the local sides have an ex-Town youngster in their squad.
Whilst I reflect on why so few of the victorious 2005 FA Youth Cup squad did not really do that much following that cup win, which seems ages ago, I also hope that Town fans give the youth players a chance when they break into the first team squad, if the club suddenly taken a view to focus on the development and nurturing of youth players.
If that was ever possible, football is now becoming a case of total dependence on what happens on a Saturday afternoon. One defeat equals total despair. Two defeats equal utter misery. Three defeats equal pointed and searching questions linked to the survival of the manager and the chairman. Six or seven defeats equal club meltdown.
Being a Championship team in a league that, despite the hype, is desperately ordinary on too many occasions can sap most people’s emotions. If the answer to everyone’s problems is for Town to return to be a team focusing on youth playing a passing game, I would be happy, but I would hope that fans would stay with that philosophy. There are also more fundamental problems at the club that need to be resolved.
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