|Time To Simply Enjoy Being Ipswich Town|
Written by WarkTheWarkITFC on Tuesday, 14th Aug 2018 16:01
Something incredibly strange happened to me on Saturday evening.
Instead of trudging away from the New York Stadium in a dejected manner, I calmly strolled out with a rather peculiar feeling. A feeling of satisfaction that was completely out of kilter with what should have been a sickening late loss.
The walk back to the car gave me plenty of time to reflect on what I was feeling and more importantly why I was feeling it.
On so many occasions last season similar walks had been tinged with disappointment even when we’d managed a favourable result and the world, for a moment, on Saturday evening felt as if it had been turned upon its head.
Then it struck me. Even though the result had gone against us, completely unjustly, I had been entertained. I had enjoyed watching my side play.
Mick McCarthy was a fantastic appointment for this football club and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he saved us from certain relegation.
The tenure of Roy Keane, followed by that of Paul Jewell, seemed to be a season upon season creeping towards the relegation trapdoor. Some even suggested that it may do the club some good.
Mick had other ideas and slowly but surely rescued us from the doldrums and began to introduce just the faintest glimmer of hope, which eventually grew brighter until the dazzling lights of the Premier League seemed to be realistically in sight.
Whilst the play-off run would ultimately end in the worst of all places, it had been a season to remember, and for those of you that were there with me at The Valley and Vicarage Road, as well as the many of you that listened on the radio or watched on TV, those were the games that you remember forever, the reason that you spend so much precious time and money following the club home and away and across Europe too.
For every Brentford away, when you stick four past a high-flying promotion rival and sit top of the league, there is a Port Vale away when you get torn apart by players you have barely even heard of.
In between though are a lot of run of the mill, forgettable matches, with forgettable moments and forgettable scorers. Think back as far as last season. How many scores can you accurately recall home and away? Quite a few I bet. How many scorers can you put to those matches? Not that many I’d imagine when all is said and done.
But say the name Frank Yallop and you immediately think of those two goals in a week. Two rockets at Spurs and against Manchester United, way back in the early 90s.
Utter the immortal words Adam Tanner and you’ll immediately recall that goal at Anfield, a moment we all recall in what was one of the worst seasons we have ever had to endure.
The name Chris Marsden will still bring shivers to your spine. The name Paul Power may conjure a moderate amount of anger still. The name Clive Thomas most certainly will to anybody of a certain vintage.
The reality of following your team, whoever that team is, is likely an unglamorous and thankless one. Ask Rochdale fans. Ask Coventry City fans. Ask Newcastle United fans. A series of seasons, games and players that will all be forgotten in the annals of time, punctured sporadically by the unexpected moments of joy.
In the midst of a season of utter misery I was at Anfield to see Tanner score in a 1-0 win against Liverpool that made history. Some of the greatest Town teams ever and greatest Town players ever had gone there and come away without a victory. Kevin Beattie, Mick Mills, Arnold Muhren had all failed. In a terrible team consisting of players that younger Ipswich fans would never have heard of, Adam Tanner (a truly unremarkable footballer) will forever be remembered.
In such moments footballing legends are born. Alex Mathie became a legend. Jim Magilton became a legend. Martijn Reuser became a legend. As incredibly hard as it is to believe Tamas Priskin became a legend. A complete waste of money, who looked lost in a Town shirt, was responsible for one of the greatest nights at Portman Road, if not the greatest, in the last decade. Without that one goal, he’d again become once forgotten.
Supporting Ipswich Town is not about the constant trophies, the Champagne football or the promotion challenges. Lately, it has not even been about East Anglian bragging rights. It is about being there at the start of the next great moment, the debut of the next Burley, Beattie or Dyer, the next wonder goal as Bramble marauds from the halfway line, as Finidi chips the keeper to end a flowing move or Jermaine Wright out of nowhere finds the top corner with a volley at Millmoor.
It’s about not having left Barnsley at 3-0 with five minutes to go just in case. It’s about waiting until the final whistle after Richard Wood equalises for Coventry City in the 96th minute just in case.
Last season it was clear McCarthy’s day at Town had been and gone. He’d lifted us from the doldrums into the clouds, but then dropped us back down again just a little. At times last year I walked away from an away draw or even an away win and it meant nothing. A meaningless league position in a season where promotion and relegation were not achieved and we’d scrapped out a win or a draw with little to no entertainment.
This is a new era. It may go nowhere. It may end in promotion. It may end in relegation. We do not know but that is what makes it so exciting. For the first time in a long time matches feel meaningful.
We drew with Blackburn but I was entertained. We lost to Rotherham but I was entertained. You may wonder how long one can be entertained if the relegation zone looms but even if it does then football will become meaningful again.
So please, let’s give the negativity a rest. Some people chanted for Bobby Robson to go. Some wrote Joe Royle off before a ball was kicked. I remember a good friend of mine being livid when George Burley was appointed. In football quite simply you never know and that is what makes it brilliant.
Hull City, Swansea City and AFC Bournemouth were on the brink of dropping out of the Football League altogether. Imagine telling them they’d be signing players for £5m or £10m or £20m and regularly visiting the greatest stadiums in the land. Think of the sheer ridiculousness of the journey Manchester City have been on, that Portsmouth have been on, that Wigan have been on.
Moments. That is what football is all about. At the end of the season we want promotion, we want a trophy, we want bragging rights. But more often than not we have none of that and the season becomes about how many Noel Hunt last gasp winners, how many Richard Chaplow last gasp winners, how many Danny Haynes handballs made you completely lose your mind and forget about the mundane Monday to Friday jobs, the money worries, the family problems and everything else that life can throw at you.
We support this club through mostly indifference, with a good smattering of miserable thrown in. Right now there is reason to be hopeful, reason to smile and reason to dream. Don’t let that fleeting positivity pass you by. Embrace it. Get down to Portman Road. Make some noise. Make a difference and maybe, just maybe. Make it for the start of the next great moment.
Us football fans don't get much back. So don't fear the unknown. Embrace it. Most of all though enjoy it!
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