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Trauma
written by TimS Monday, 11th Mar 2013 09:26

No, this article is about something different other than the spluttering end of Town’s 2012/13 season.

I am not sure what can be said about a 0-0 against Peterborough on an unseasonably cold Saturday in early March. A point gained? Everything will count at the end of 4th May, and although it feels a bit uncomfortable for Town to be scrambling for points to stay in the Championship, (the CHAMPIONSHIP!) we have to accept that this is the reality at the time writing. It is frustrating. You can debate how Town got to this state but it is not traumatic, and trauma is what I want to talk about.

My friendly Oxford English Dictionary tells me that trauma is “emotional shock” of “physical injury; resulting shock.” You can find something “traumatic” or be “traumatised” and it is not hard to switch on a post match football phone in to hear about someone ranting away about his “trauma” at watching Town this season, or another wag talking about being traumatised after another Town match of inept wing play from the players in the blue shirts, but for me, trauma is a term associated with serious accidents resulting in medical treatment and examination on an operating table. Watching Town, or even football, however frustrating it may be, is not remotely traumatic.

However, in this world where every single football match is compared to the War on Terror, or the economic downturn in Western Europe, everyone seems to be lax with their language. In a month where Fergie felt too “traumatised” to talk to the press after the Nani red card against Real Madrid, and a teenage Manchester United fan rang the police to report this ‘crime’ being committed by the hapless referee, for the first time for a while, I am wondering whether I am really on the same planet as ‘planet football.’

For sure, I am convinced that most of you reading this article will have left a Town match feeling tremendously frustrated and depressed. However, there are still some matches that still play with your mind. Eighteen years have passed since 4th March 1995, and the 9-0 humiliation against Manchester United. Still sneered at by United fans who I meet out and about, I can still visualise the Grandstand videprinter dead bleeping away like a heart monitor to tell the world that it was:

Manchester United 9 (Nine) Ipswich Town 0

I guess that the (Nine) was to help people to truly believe that this score was not an early April Fools' joke. The cameras panned to a shocked Tony Gubba at Old Trafford who I am pretty sure did not entirely believe what he had just seen in front of him. I slumped in the chair in an adolescent mood and Dad threw the paper down in disgust. He was genuinely upset because he could remember those 1970s/1980s glory days. Had it really come to this?

Many years later, I found myself at the Old Trafford Museum and Tour Centre which had a TV where you could watch every single goal scored by United. For some reason which I can still not quite explain, I decided to watch each of those nine goals from 1995. Essentially I was watching an Ipswich Town Football Club version of The Exorcist. I could still not really believe what I was seeing, stopping young children from drooling over Wayne Rooney or Ryan Giggs. That day was certainly humiliating, embarrassing, very upsetting and it probably still resonates with Town fans of a certain age. Was it traumatic? No it wasn’t.

March 4th 1995 has not been repeated and I am sure that I am not the only Town fan to hope that one day, a team will win by ten goals to nil, and the wretched events of that Saturday afternoon will be consigned to a dusty vault, or landfill. The nearest equivalent, for me, to that day was Town’s 4-0 defeat by Bolton Wanderers on a sunny spring afternoon in 2002.

We all know that the 2001/02 season went wrong for so many reasons. However, whilst on academic placement in Preston, which is a town in Lancashire where the most exciting thing is the architecturally impressive bus station, I wanted to tick the Reebok Stadium off my ‘stadiums to visit list’.

High on the adrenalin of visiting a new place, seeing a new stadium, and high on coffee after taking part in a market research survey for new brands in the middle of Bolton earlier that day, the first half of the game and the Fredi Bobic master class hit me straight in the face.

After the game, a line of miserable Town fans were slumped on the opposite platform at Horwich Parkway station heading off somewhere south. I was heading back to Preston, wishing that I had gone to the Grand National instead.

At the time of writing, this remains the last Town Premiership game which I have seen live. After that game, I was certainly upset, angry and depressed because Town’s defence that day did not transfer from the team sheet to the pitch. Was I traumatised, and needing therapy? No. Life did move on.

So we arrive at Manchester United v Real Madrid on 5th March. A game that the Portuguese master of the understatement proclaimed in his Sermon on the Mount that the whole of the world would stop to watch.

Well, for those of you who were at the City Ground, or for me, travelling back home in the neon light splendour of a First Great Western train following a work trip, snared by a freight train out of Reading which did not seem to care that the greatest football match in the history of the world was being played out in Manchester or that Forest were slugging it out against Ipswich, we missed the message and the game.

I gather that Fergie was so traumatised by the Nani red card that he could not string a sentence together in front of the world’s media, due to his trauma.

For someone who is grovelled and regarded as a respected elder statesman in world football, his lack of speech for the newspapers and television really got to me. The use of the word “traumatised” really got to me.

In the wide scheme of things, the Nani red card was not an act worthy of the War Crimes Tribunal, and not the greatest act of treachery in football, since people thought that it would be a good idea to kick a pig's bladder around a bit of open space. There is this trauma and real ‘trauma’ and I assure you that there is a difference.

I appreciate that nothing will change with the language that people will use as they enjoy the game. In our crowded lives of demands and pressures, the need for football to play on our minds means that managers and players will move from trauma to heartbreak back to unreserved joy, often in the space of one forty five minute period.

I like emotion in football and passionless stadiums are truly soulless arenas. I like the fact that this particular Ipswich Town manager, at the time of writing, says that he hurts when he sees his team lose, but to compare football disappointment to trauma, and for this comparison to be meekly accepted by the media, has really got to me this week.







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itfcbonanza added 11:45 - Mar 11
Good thinking, trauma is the heart stopping in the centre circle and not dying because of the efforts of many people or seeing your mate blown up in Afganistan. It's not about kicking a ball around for thousands of pounds a week.
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BillBlue added 12:07 - Mar 11
What on earth are you on about that 9-0 win by United for? It is football, it happens, one side is up and the other side down. Are you unaware that we whipped that same team 6-0 AND missed 3 (three) penalties because our penalty taker (Johnny Wark) was absent? To my mind 6 + 3 = 9. Just forget it! If some idiotic Manure fan boasts to you about that defeat then remind them of the reverse! In any case that was years ago. i am more worried about the Manager being satisfied with a 0-0 draw against, of all teams, Peterborough. Mind you I am just disappointed, not traumatised!
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Edmunds5 added 12:38 - Mar 11
I agree of course football is not the be all and end all but it depends on your status for your sense of perspective. Football is ultimately a game absolutely, but people still work within football and so for them it is a serious buisness. managers try and get results not just for the team and their pride but for their jobs, James Brent becoming Plymouth owner, try telling him with their team in the relegation place, him trying to well for his club but with fans putting pressure on him that a game on a Saturday is just a result. Comments such as Mourinho's "the world will stop" is over the top but people get lured by it, the media get lured by it and the bottom line is this makes football a spectacle which satisfies fans. Try telling the Portsmouth fans and in particular lifelong ones who have invested time and money into season tickets and football shirts how they feel about the club struggling to remain in buisness with constant court hearings. My mum said the other day football is "just a game" I cant disagree but then she hasn't liked football for 20 years like me and so I immediately get sucked into anything to do with the sport because of the interest, If a teacher at a school gets sacked that doesn't sound traumatic but it effects that person, football is a buisness remember and all the hype and emotions that go with it makes it what it was. Your statement is one we all know is true but it wont in any way stop the way I act towards it.
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gazmangaz added 16:03 - Mar 11
I am old enough to remember 9-0 but i think the thrashing at Peterborough was more embarrassing. In 1995 we were a struggling side much like we are now but at least we were struggling in the top tier of english football. I first started going to portman road in 1968 ( a 1-1 draw with Blackburn to secure promotion) and I can say with my hand on heart nothing has been as embarrassing to watch as this season. Our goal difference and goals scored is nothing short of abysmal !
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NoCanariesAllowed added 17:32 - Mar 11
I missed both legs of that Man Utd v Real Madrid tie. Seemed to me like a load of overhyped nonsense and another chance for Roy Keane to talk nonsense just to get his name in the papers again. "World will stop", my backside.

That's the media and football for you though - they have to make it seem more important than it really is, otherwise some might lose interest. Any organisation will love bigging up a sacked manager's return to an old club as "revenge" or a big derby game as some sort of tribal war, just to make us watch them. Load of old rubbish, really - let the game do the talking for itself.

I think I agree with gazmangaz above - the Peterborough game was surely a greater embarrassment than the Man Utd game. It's one thing losing a Premier League game at Old Trafford against one of the best teams in the country - it's quite another seeing your nine men losing a second tier game 7-1 to an unglamorous quasi-'neighbour' who were in League Two only three years prior.

Not that I much enjoyed going to those thumpings at Blackpool and Leicester this season either...!
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cooper4england added 21:17 - Mar 11
I always appreciate people who take the time to write these peices especially on a slow TWTD day. So thanks.

However it's interesting that you take a grievance with the word trauma but you are happy to casually use the word "depressed".

Just thought that was interesting, but as I said thanks for the article.
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chripswich added 12:55 - Mar 13
agree entirely..totally over the top..
perhaps had fergie not been so "traumatised" and actually been a manager for the 10 minutes after the sending off (right or wrong matters not) he would have reorganised and continued to defend a 2-1 lead (with an away goal)
whilst he was bitching and moaning Mourinho got his troops in order and scored two quick goals..
he got out managed in that 10 minute spell..
it was Fergie that lost them the tie - not the decision..
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sirbenofmorlingshire added 15:15 - Mar 13
Incase some of the younger generation have never seen it... Check the link to go back to the days when Umbro Managers coats were a must at school, Alex Ferguson looked... well, young, we had some legends in our side like John Wark (who was very ill that day but still played as we had no one else) and Andy Cole was a record signing at a whopping £7million (yes £7 million!!! 6mil cash and Keith Gillespie going to N'castle). This is how we got done 9-0. TWTD:
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