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From 24th May 1981 to 9th April 2018
Written by TimS on Monday, 9th Apr 2018 19:31

How are you planning to spend your Tuesday evening this week? You might want to head down to Portman Road to catch Town versus Barnsley; the next match in what is turning into one of the most frustrating seemingly never-ending seasons that I can remember.

Sitting here in London, I can sadly visualise how Portman Road will look tomorrow evening. I suspect that there will be more atmosphere at Ipswich railway station or even in one of our local supermarkets than at Portman Road. It is a sad state of affairs. Somehow I do not think that tomorrow's game will be a sell out.

If you decide to go to the game, I salute you, but if your mind begins to wander around the empty seats around you, you may fancy playing around on YouTube or other video sharing websites to remember those times when watching Town was more interesting and rewarding.

Those matches were on a different level compared to what will probably be a predictable draw or 1-0 loss in a half empty stadium mired in a damp and drizzly Tuesday night in April. There are many videos of Town down the years, which you can enjoy. These videos might be more fun than the action on the pitch!

I know that is a bit niche and different from crazy cat videos but I recently stumbled across a BBC news bulletin on a well-known video sharing website. The date was 24th May 1981 and the channel was BBC2. A devastatingly young John Humphreys in a very 1981 suit in a very 1981 news studio. Unknown to me, that was the day when the UEFA Cup came back to Suffolk. The bulletin finishes with VT of the Cup being proudly waved to the mass crowds of St Matthews Street.

The BBC captured a lot of people out and about on that Sunday afternoon with fans literally hanging from the windows and car parks as Mills, Brazil, Mariner and Co travelled past. It must have been a great moment for the club, the Town and East Anglia.

Great if you could remember it! I don't remember it! I was just one years old at the time. I did not know about football, let alone European football in 1981. I might have been conscious on that Sunday afternoon but I might as well have been on a different planet.

I would love the send the link to the mysterious Mr Evans or Mr Milne, because I want to demonstrate that Ipswich Town Football Club is more than a hospitality business with a sporting vibe. I accept football has changed over the last 37 years but I want to convince our leaders that this club (our club) is something special and means a lot to so many people not just in Ipswich, wider Suffolk, across East Anglia, the UK, and probably the world.

Us fans do not need to be managed on and off the pitch like sheep at a sheepdog contest. We do not need to be corralled in a 'fans' zone' before games, tantalised with the odd ticket offer or a discount on some replica gear from the new Planet Blue website. Give us something to shout about and we will respond, but there needs to be something good to shout about.

The manager is leaving on 6th May and I guess we are currently watching the Mick McCarthy farewell tour in Suffolk and around selected grounds in the UK. I have no idea about who is going to be the next Ipswich manager. I do not know what sort of manager is on the boardroom list; the sort of figure that the senior executives of my club are looking for to direct the team for next season.

Without any guidance, I have to remain enthused about a club whose owner talks through intermediaries about the club and I have a manager of my club who realistically (and possibly understandably) does not care where Town will finish the season come May 2019. And I am supposed to shrug my shoulders 'get behind the team', 'be careful what I wish for' and just muse about 'dear old' Ipswich and the quirky nature of football?

I am not that stupid to believe that come 7th May, everything will be rosy in the garden at Portman Road so I would love the club to give me some strategy and an idea about how they want my club to progress, not just in the coming year but for the next five, 10 or 20 years.

I may have missed the press release but I do not know what the mysterious Mr Evans wants from the club that he owns. I want to know his reasoning and strategy about transfer dealings, the search for the manager, ticket prices, how to attract fans back to Portman Road, how to keep fans coming to Portman Road, the future of our academy (something that is regularly used as a way to soften furrowed brows of fans) and how the club can become part of Ipswich and Suffolk again.

I can't answer any of these questions and I do not know the answers. I do not know how to get the answers. It pains me to see Town drift through endless matches with seemingly every provincial town in the UK so I end up watching the historical moments of Town's past on well known video sharing channels.

I have a small grain of sympathy for the mysterious Mr Evans and Mr Milne. Despite the PR and the hype, Championship football is a very difficult sell. The standard of football is variable at best, dreadful at the very worst.

There seem to be endless matches and no real shape to a season. You can advertise every Championship game as a 'make or break' match but you know that you would be selling a lie. Town v Barnsley clashes with Manchester City v Liverpool in the Champions League. Two matches that can not really be compared for intensity, skill or importance but I want my club to have a bit more direction and react to the changing football landscape.

I have an interest in old TV news bulletins. The history of British media formed part of my academic study. I would love to watch the TV news from the FA Cup final and drown myself in the spinning globes of BBC1 or the spinning knights of Anglia Television but I am not stupid. I know that the world has moved on since Sunday 24th May 1981. It is unlikely that Town will ever quite reach the heights of that 1980/81 season again, but new memories can still be made.

Direction and strategy rather than insults, sniping and glib gestures and promises will help us to start 2018/19 in a positive fashion without the baggage of this season, which I desperately hope will end soon.

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armchaircritic59 added 21:58 - Apr 9
TimS, i think you've touched on something important in your blog. From when i first went to Portman Road (1963!) up until the end of the Sheepshanks era, the people running the club (and many behind the scenes, and not a few players) had blue running through their veins. I think it was definitely more a football club than a business. Now the pendulum appears to have swung the other way, as it is likely to do when rich owners/corporations come calling. Ironically in our case as ME was born in Suffolk! I don't see a way back to the old traditions. Times change, not always for the best.

I was fortunate enough to be there on that day you mentioned back in 1981, on the Cornhill. Also for FA Cup celebrations 3 years earlier. Looking back, i realise just how fortunate we were to see on a regular basis a team play the way we did back then. Will it ever happen again, i have very big doubts, but for the sake of yourself and the "younger generation" i'd love to think so. In the meantime console yourself with the videos, at least it proves we have a history (and i've forgotten to mention probably the greatest achievement of all at the club, during the Sir Alf regime. Two cosecutive promotions, followed by the League One Title the very next season, now of course what we call the premier league. Amazing!) and that's something many clubs can't boast! Lets hope 2018/2019 begins a phase of the club finding it's way again, after a lot of years tredding water!

carsey added 12:34 - Apr 10
This needs to go out to a wider audience and certainly to the club because it sums up beautifully how almost every supporter feels.
I was lucky and took for granted the fact we were challenging for the league title, regular participants in Europe and played superb entertaining football on a pitch that resembled a bowling green it was so flat.
All I want now is some sense of club back and everyone pulling in the same direction and hopefully the rest will follow.
What Evans does next matters immensely because the wrong manager without support and I fear we will disappear into the abyss that is EFL1

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