|Can Town Fashion Passion Again at Portman Road?|
written by Pessimistic Thursday, 10th Jan 2013 14:39
My love affair with Ipswich Town developed in a strange sort of way. I began my life near Liverpool and like the rest of the family, supported the Blues. The Merseyside Blues that is! I can recall quite vividly, jumping up and down with joy when Derek Temple scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final of 1966 - which saw Everton claw back a seemingly impossible two-goal deficit against Sheffield Wednesday to lift the trophy! I was just eleven then but the memories linger on.
A few years later, at the end of the Bill McGarry era, I remember sitting on the grass with my know-it-all older cousin and talking football. After kicking a ball around for a bit we would usually talked books, girls, or football and the subject of Town going down arose. "Not good enough. They will go down." My cousin was always right but Ipswich had become my second favourite team and although I knew a lot less about football than my big cousin, I responded defiantly, "Bet you they won't!"
We struck the bet there and then and although it was not by Chopra-esque standards a huge wager, it was none the less a significant amount for a small boy with a blind vision. The rest, as they say, is history.
Town recruited Sir Bobby later that season and they stayed up by their coat-tails and for once my knowledgeable cousin had got it wrong! I guess it was then that the seed was sown. As the years passed by, I stopped going to watch Everton with him - unless it was against Ipswich and I can still remember, when Gordon Lee was gaffer at Goodison, partaking in the throwing of cushions from the main stand onto the field, as Town went on the rampage and won by four goals to nil.
It was a bit naughty on my part I confess but irresistible given this remarkable result. Anyway I didn't start it! Alan Brazil should have had a hat-trick that day but picked up the ball when he only had the goalkeeper to beat because he thought he was offside. He wasn't but who cares now!
I even had a letter published in the Liverpool Echo the following week which made a headline on the football pages: Ipswich Give Everton A Lesson in Finance! I had listed all the players of both teams and where the Merseysiders had spent millions Town's total spend was less than one of their players! Not surprisingly I suppose, Gordon Lee's days as head coach were numbered.
I was privileged enough to see Town at the very height of their powers and even won another bet with a bookmaker friend of mine who gave me ridiculously mean odds of 10/1 for Town to win the FA Cup in 1978, when they faced a difficult third round tie in the snow at Bristol Rovers.
Fringe player Robin Turner came to Town's rescue on that occasion with two vital goals and although my dream was eventually realised, it was like getting blood out of a stone acquiring my winnings. In the end though, he paid up and the feeling of euphoria in victory was far greater than any financial reward that could be gleaned.
These days of course it is difficult to resurrect the passion that was so apparent in the beautiful game all those years ago. In fact 'passion' is not something we can manufacture and with the comings and goings of the transfer market, short-term loans have replaced long-term commitment In the Championship these days and of course, to a lesser extent, in the Premier League too.
Journeymen have become the norm. Players talk instead of getting some match fitness under their belts before returning to their former clubs. The idea that in the modern football era we could actually uncover another Steven Gerrard is remote. Money talks and continuity is hard to find. Oh, how I long for another Kevin Beattie who is the ghost of Ipswich past! What a player and a legend in his own time. Now that was passion personified!
I will never forget either, being a part of the 23,000 Town supporters who witnessed the Sir Bobby Robson's testimonial at Portman Road, when George Best graced an Ipswich shirt for the second half and laid on two for Alan Brazil; against an England XI that included Terry Butcher and Russell Osman! Fittingly perhaps the game ended in an honourable 2-2 draw.
Time has moved on and the modern day ghost of Ipswich present is perhaps DJ Campbell. Scores 10 goals in next to no time in an Ipswich shirt and then is shipped back to QPR. He says he wants to stay. He says that money does not matter. He says that the enjoyment of playing football at 31 is his main objective.
Like a lot of modern day footballers he says a lot of things. I would dearly love him to return but I don't think this is very likely. Instead we must just hope that some of the latest batch of journeymen can bring us solace. Aaron Mclean looks promising, as does David McGoldrick and the latest striker to join the ranks Frank Nouble!
Whether they can help lead us to a brighter Ipswich future is at this stage anybody's guess but where there is a will there is a way as they say and I still have the faith! I never thought the the defence minded Mick McCarthy would find himself with 10 strikers to choose from though. Fashion-conscious Jay may make way - along with Jason Scotland and Nathan Ellington I fear, but this is surely to be expected given our striking options.
Since the days of Mick O'Brien, who helped us win the Southern League way back - before even I was born in in 1937, the history of this wonderful club has taken its supporters on a rollercoaster ride. As a Town fan for more than forty years and now residing in the Netherlands, my love of Ipswich Town Football Club remains undiminished.
In fact, Town's struggles have only strengthened my resolve (this might even rub off on Marcus Evans too one hopes?). Supporting the club over all these years means there have been very many rainy days and deep depressions but let us make no mistake. When the sun shines on the Blues, its effects can be almost blinding and maybe instead of playing My Way before kick-off we should instead focus our collective energies on singing Here Comes The Sun for a bright new future tomorrow!
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