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Can Town Fashion Passion Again at Portman Road?
Written by Pessimistic on 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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BillBlue added 16:44 - Jan 10
Hell yes! Wonderful! By the way, you are only a youngster but you have certainly cheered me up!! COYB

JWM added 13:21 - Jan 11
Yes I am fortunate enough to remember the days when a home victory and thrashing the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd and the other big boys was considered a "Routine" result. The days when we would play visiting sides off the park and when we went 2-0 up it meant that we would go on to score 2 or 3 more just for good measure! Teams were afraid of coming to the fortress in those days and the football we saw was a joy to watch. In retrospect we were truly spoilt by the quality of our football and oh boy have we paid for it in the last 5 horror years. In those days we were challenging for major honours every season and nowadays we are thankful just to get a draw against the likes of Hull, Cardiff, Peterborough and other football powerhouses! Mick has got his work cut out but I sense the new mood of optimism prevailing at Portman Road these days and I am sure that the sleeping "small" giant will soon be awakening from it slumbers!

Pessimistic added 10:46 - Jan 12
Thanks folks. I am glad I am not alone!

Seablue added 10:35 - Jan 13
Great piece. Really cheered me up. Have a good feeling about McCarthy. He has an air of confidence that Jewell never quite mustered. Do you get over for many games from Holland?

cbower added 18:51 - Jan 13
We share many parallels Pessimistic! I am also from the Liverpool area and started supporting Town in the early seventies when all my mates were Liverpool or Everton supporters. I was there at Goodison in the Upper Tier and watched the Evertonians rain the cushions down onto the pitch after they were given a footballing lesson by a briliant Ipswich side. We had some success at Goodison but almost none at Anfield where my dad was a season ticket holder. Oddly, our first victory there came in 1995 on our way to relegation but I still celebrated wildly amongst the Liverpool fans in the Main Stand alongside my dad. I was told in no uncertain terms to sit down as we were still crap and doomed to relegation! Nice blog, I enjoyed some memories! I too hopw that Mick McCarthy can help bring back some level of success so that my boy (now in the Yorkshire area) can hold his head up high as a Town fan.

Pessimistic added 10:36 - Jan 14
Thanks to all of you for your positive comments. Well Seablue, I would love to get to more games than I do but I am hopeful that in the future, with the help of a few of our ex-pat Ipswich supporters we can visit as a collective force! I know Marcel from Rotterdam is busy with this and it would be great to take in more matches. In the meantime, I will just have to make do in the main with Ipswich Player and the excellent service provided by Radio Suffolk! Brenner Whooley, Graham Mac and of course Mich Mills and Alex Mathie do an excellent job and I air my views on line on a regular basis too if you listen closely.

Well Cbower, looks like we could have been from the same family! Amazing to think that we were at the same game at Goodison all those years ago when those cushions came raining down! And both supporting the Town too! I am sure, like me, you get a lot of stick from scousers for not supporting one of the big two but half the reason why I think I fell in love with Ipswich Town was exactly BECAUSE they had limited resources and defied the odds! ( For those not in the know by the way, Tranmere is over the water.)
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