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[Blog] Long Live King George
Written by Bluefish on Wednesday, 23rd Mar 2011 09:24

When every kid grows up they have distant dreams and hopes for their
football teams, I was the same. I wanted to see Ipswich Town win at Wembley
and I wanted to see us in the San Siro. Italian football had started on
Channel 4 and I used to look in awe at the Giuseppe Meazza every week, it
was the most impressive site in football and a world away from Portman Road.

They were just dreams, much like marrying Pamela Anderson or winning the pools, and I never did I really expect it to happen. In 1994 when I was just 14 we appointed a new manager, it was a bloke who I knew was an ex player and a very good one but I didn't know too much about him having never seen him play. George Burley was making the short trip from Colchester, he had only been there for about 20 games and I don't really remember noticing much of him or them at that time but oh well we'll see how he gets on.

We were limping out of the Premier League playing unattractive defensive football but Burley started to build again in what is now the Championship and we were passing the ball again, we started knocking on the door to the Premier League again but time after time we fell short in the play-offs and we started to think maybe we are just simply a tier two side for the rest of time.

This changed in 2000 and the Wembley dream was realised, Marcus Stewart and Jim Magilton amazingly dragged us into a long elusive play-off final. That was the start of the excitement, I remember leaving the office one night and letting them know I may not be in the next morning, this was because I was to pick up a couple of mates and drive to Portman Road to spend the entire night sat outside the Centre Spot with several other thousand in a queue for tickets. The buzz and rumours about sell outs went round all night until we finally joined our chosen line in the gym and the tickets were ours.

Finally the day came and we made our way to Wembley for what still ranks as one of the best days of my entire life, lots of beer and sunshine and six goals and a night that finally finished in the mid-morning the next day. George Burley had made one of my dreams come true. This one was probably slightly cheating as it wasn't a major cup final but nonetheless I was making the most of it.

As history tells King George also managed for one season to turn us into one of the best sides in this country and we amazingly qualified for the UEFA cup. A couple of rounds later we were drawn out to face Inter Milan and the San Siro dream was to come true. I won't dwell on the whole day but again it was prove to be an amazing event, 21-years-old off to Italy without a care in the world to watch my team face Ronaldo and Vieri with a 1-0 lead. 10,000 of us made sure it was a truly incredible experience. Dullards can go on about it being the worst of the three away trips but for me it will never ever be matched.

Why am I rambling about this now?

Something occurred to me this week when I looked and saw the fact Liverpool are unlikely to qualify for Europe this year. Football has moved on beyond belief and these one off fairytales are an even more distant dream for everyone now. Ipswich Town will probably never play in Europe again let alone against one of the giants in possibly the most recognised stadium in the world.

Thanks to one person I was able to fulfil both of these dreams between the ages of 20 and 21 in what was to be the best time of my life. I will always be grateful to George Burley for that for me he will always be King George and no one can take those memories away

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BlueinBrum added 10:34 - Mar 23
Great memories indeed. I am envious in some ways that you are 10 years older than me - as a 8/9 year old I loved seeing us get promoted and loved the premiership years and Europe (although sadly didn't get to go to the San Siro) but have often said recently that I wish it was now, because I reckon as a 19 going on 20 year old I would be able to celebrate in more style...

Very fond memories for me too, but while mine are hazy from being so young I'm sure yours are hazy for different reasons.

fourth added 10:43 - Mar 23
Very good!
Burley was an incredibly reliable and well-balanced player, very economical and smart. Never panicked!

DoobDude added 11:01 - Mar 23
Hopeless and useless manager, what a waste of a blog writing about the man who destroyed this club! We are still paying for his mistakes 10 years later.

cwb91 added 11:41 - Mar 23
destroyed this club? He made mistakes, much like everyone else. But he led us to European football, and the 5th best team in the land. An astonishing achievement for a club like ours. Be grateful for the good times.

Superb blog

TrevorChutney added 11:45 - Mar 23
Your blog is a pile of dogs doo doo

There, there's the feedback you were looking for

RRanger added 13:25 - Mar 23
As a disciple (and ex-player) of Sir Bobby Robson GB had been brought up the "Ipswich way" and for me what he achieved here quite possibly won't be repeated (I hope I'm wrong). Sure he and D Sheepshanks overreached themselves in our second season in the Premiership. Sereni was possibly the most wasteful purchase but we only bought him to replace Richard Wright who quite possibly would have kept us in the top tier.
Thanks for the blog. I never made it to the San Siro but I doubt if another club will ever be promoted and finish 5th in the Premiership the following season.

Hiltzkooler added 20:55 - Mar 23
loved it...brilliant memories, clear and present to this day....yes there was fallout but tell me that Portsmouth do not remember their heady days too...whatever the regrets now...good blog....

Lightningboy added 21:16 - Mar 23
Truly great manager..brilliant times under George even the play-off worst day as a fan when he got the sack..can't believe some idiots still slag him off - they're not true fans.

nipps added 14:35 - Mar 24
Yes, yes, yes and yes. We used to tear teams up as a matter of course in the old Division One. The playoffs of '99 were dramatic, then in 2000 we had 18 goals, 2 red cards, 5 penalties in the three games. Town went behind on five separate occasions and still made it.

Remember those last-day-of-season games where we could go up depending on other results? When we thought Bradford had conceded in the dying minutes. David Johnson scoring against Walsall and for 7 minutes we were there... That first home game - Manchester United, Fabian Wilnis, I thought the North Stand was going to cave in. Coming back to draw against Chelsea and Liverpool, smashing Tottenham 3-0 when it could have been double or triple that.

Even IF George Burley had "destroyed our club" and IF we were "still paying for his mistakes 10 years on" (this can no longer be true after ME's money) then I would happily take that penance for those four or five years around 2000.


CalneBlue added 15:07 - Mar 24
I enjoyed reading this though I'd like to think it's still possible for our club to get back in Europe. Ultimately IMHO Burley was undone by poor squad development once teams worked out how to play us. The signings of Matteo Sereni and Finidi George were unwise to say the least and then there was Titus Bramble's mistakes at the back. Still, he did great things with limited resources and it's a shame he hasn't enjoyed a great deal of success elsewhere since.

Lamby95 added 22:14 - Mar 24
Was only 5/6 when this was happening. 4 when we were at wembley and only my second match. Shame I can't remember too much apart from goals which gave been replayed but from different angles. Only other thing I can remember is sitting on someones lap for the whole journey as there was 6 in a 5 seater.

It would be great if we could gave those games again, arsenal and Chelsea (1st time) are 2 great experiences. As I'm getting older I want to experience fantastic atmospheres like arsenal at home. Just not too sure when those games will come

Bluedandy added 15:16 - Mar 25
Play-off final was a great occasion and finely penned memories of glories gone-by. But forgive me for not sharing your grim prognosis on whether we'll ever enjoy European nights again. Perhaps I'm a hopeless romantic having watched Town demolish Barcelona 3-0 nil in the seventies, but a dash of optimism is not entirely delusional. After all, mundane Cup winners Birmingham, who rarely sellout St Andrews even in the Premiership, have just qualified. In fact, even in a season as bleak as this one, were we not just 120 mins away from Europe prior to Bendtner's uncharacteristic intervention? We'll enjoy another European tour, whether we ever beat Barca 3-0 again is another matter.

stiffshorts added 15:26 - Mar 25
ITFC, the most succesful football club, for it's size (catchment area/population) in the UK, possibly even Europe!
What other club of similar size has won the cups we've won and have the record we have?
Blackpool got into the top 6 earlier this season and all the so called "experts" in the media were creaming themselves, they totally forgot our track record. The years do addle the brain for them people.

ITFC, famous!!


Matteo_Sereni added 16:10 - Mar 25
fantastic times...i too was only 13 when we got to Wembley but still had an amazing day...ill never forget the feeling when Mowbray got us that equaliser. That was the moment i thought we could actually win it!

I also wish i was older when this was happening, although im sure my liver doesnt!!

Great times...however, i dont agree that we'll never play in Europe again. I truly believe we will...just not for a while!

reuser90 added 20:20 - Mar 26
Great blog!!! heady days indeed, Wembley still seems to me to have been a dream! at 45 yrs old i've seen many ups and downs, the best....Wembley 2000! without a doubt, the worst the 85' Milk cup semi-final defeat to Norwich...every time i go up there it comes back! but times have changed, lets look to the future.....the futures bright 'cos it's Blue and White!!

fourth added 20:34 - Mar 27
I watched the play-offs on a dodgy television in Lome, Togo at the International School; It was SUCH a great match, a patch of high quality in surrounds of extreme poverty and rather low expectations.

Calmingwind added 09:26 - Mar 28
@DoobDude Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and mine is that you sir, are a disgrace
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