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What Is Love? The Magic Of Moments
Written by DazC on Thursday, 11th Oct 2018 09:15

It's often said that football is a results business. But it isn't really. It's a moments business.

Admittedly, many of the best moments are linked with great results, particularly those upon which titles or promotions depend - 'Osborne, One-Nil', 'Reuser, Premiership' and so on. Yet even a relatively unremarkable, inconsequential game can become memorable. And it's not necessarily about what happened, but how it happened.

One only need look at recent Ipswich Town seasons for many examples. Who can forget Noel Hunt's winner at Charlton, or Richard Chaplow's at Watford. Two moments in a 2014/15 campaign which ultimately had little impact upon the club's course in history, but was our most successful and probably most enjoyable season for many years.

But the team does not have to be doing well. Consider the 2012/13 season, when Carlos Edwards drilled in that 93rd minute winner at Derby. Or Michael Chopra, a man whose time at Portman Road was largely one of unfulfilled promise, netting decisive late goals at Watford and Bolton. And that was all towards merely keeping us in the Championship. It's not just about winning either. Anyone who was at Barnsley in March 2017 will remember the uplifting experience of celebrating Tom Lawrence's unlikely last-gasp equaliser.

And it's not even about last-minute goals - Paul Anderson's strike in the play-offs against Norwich was one of the loudest celebrations Portman Road has heard in many a year, while the 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday in April 2016 would have been easily forgotten had it not been such a wonderful piece of history repeated by 16-year-old debutant Andre Dozzell.

Moments, not results, are arguably what us football fans really live for. Wrapping up a comfortable 2-0 victory in the first half may be satisfying, but rarely memorable. Invariably, it's the emotional rollercoaster, an instant of catharsis or revelation, that lives on and on in our memories.

And if you were there in sunny Swansea last Saturday, you probably won't forget it for a while.

It wasn't the greatest win in Ipswich's history. With any luck, it may not even be the greatest win of this season. But in the context of what was a winless campaign for an increasingly despondent new regime, not to mention the fear of letting a precious lead slip once again, it felt like a more significant individual moment than perhaps anything we had experienced in the whole of last season.

Sweet enough as it was to walk away from the Liberty Stadium with three points at last, this moment was about more than merely ending the barren run or removing a weight from our shoulders. Silly as it sounds, there was something else at stake here: Love.

Moments don't just make for good days out and warm memories. They are part of the glue that binds us with our football club, with its players, its manager. There are of course other elements - geography, history, community connections. But it's those magical moments that really make us fall in love with our team and those who represent it.

Sometimes, even one moment is enough to inspire great fondness for otherwise ordinary individuals. Tamas Priskin was hardly the most prolific or popular player to pull on a Blues shirt in the last decade, but the Hungarian striker forever earned himself a little spot in the hearts of Ipswich fans for that one thrilling moment against Arsenal, running to the Sir Bobby Robson Stand with arms outstretched after sealing surely the most famous and unlikely Town victory of the last 15 years.

And forging that fondness is important. Especially when it comes to a new team, and a new manager.

The Paul Hurst regime had done precious little to make fans fall in love with it before last weekend. With the team that brought us those amazing moments of 2014/15 already largely disbanded, not to mention having lost a big fan favourite in Martyn Waghorn this summer, it's not only the new squad that lacks experience. We as fans lack experience of this squad, and we haven't yet had the chance to develop the emotional ties that come with that experience.

With names like Trevoh Chalobah, Janoi Donacien, Kayden Jackson et al so far linked largely with memories of dropped points and disappointment, it's been hard to feel a lot of love for them, or indeed the new manager. Little wonder some would have little hesitation in dumping Hurst already when their relationship with the former Shrewsbury boss hadn't yet yielded a single moment to truly cherish.

That began to change in South Wales on Saturday. Gwion Edwards, perhaps the only new signing to have already earned much affection thanks to his opening day display and derby strike against Norwich, further enhanced his reputation by scoring the first goal and setting up the second. The sight of jubilant Town fans mauling Chalobah in celebration of his vital winner showed a fresh bond was forming with the somewhat mercurial young midfielder.

A difficult day as it was for the Town defence, the likes of Donacien, Matthew Pennington and Toto Nsiala have now all played their part in an entertaining and memorable Town victory. And with the name of Paul Hurst ringing from the away end at full time, hopefully the new boss may have made the first meaningful step towards winning hearts in Suffolk.

Of course, this brings us back to the start of this blog - what matters more, results or moments?

Saturday would not have been a big moment had it not been the win for which we had all been waiting so long. But if that win had come from, say, a first-half penalty or scruffy own goal, would it really have been the same? One would be inclined to think such a comparatively uneventful result would have brought relief, but little love. Surely it was the agonising, topsy-turvy ordeal of those 90 minutes at Swansea that really made the win worth savouring - and, it has to be said, a damn sight more entertaining than many a Town game of recent times.

Obviously it's important not to get carried away though. Going two months without a win and conceding two goals on the day may have enhanced the eventual triumph, but of course finding our first victory of the season in such circumstances was far from ideal. However, with those hard-earned first three points potentially serving as a massive boost to confidence for the players, manager and fans alike, it could yet prove a significant moment for the future of the boss and his new regime.

Let's hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Less 'love hurts', more 'love Hurst'.

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WeWereZombies added 10:12 - Oct 11
Neat blog, wish I had been there

Guthrum added 15:09 - Oct 11
It's not just the love, but also the glimmering of hope for the future which would not have been there if it had been an "accidental" win completely against the run of play with the team still looking as disorganised as it had in some of the preceding fixtures.

Saturday was not the greatest of Town performances, but it was a decent one nevertheless and we actually managed to sustain that for more than just a few isolated minutes out of the 95. Even the way we kept attacking after their equaliser was positive (and, in the end, fruitful). The players really looked up for it.

DazC added 20:59 - Oct 12
Very true, Guthrum. I had suspected our first win would be some sort of grinding, highly fortunate or perhaps even controversial 1-0 just to get us off the mark. This was far better than I - and I think anyone - expected, and genuinely looked like something to build on rather than pressing the reset button by the next outing.

The 'love' element is an important byproduct though. If nothing else, it's more likely to buy the players and the manager time, some patience from the fans who can actually see something they can grow fond of in this team.

ITFCOYB added 09:28 - Oct 13
Ah, what a fantastic blog!

Great read, beautifully written. An ode to football that cuts through the negativity and cynicism so abundant in the modern game.

Thanks so much. More please! :)

Skip73 added 11:52 - Oct 13
Lets not get ahead of ourselves people. It is only ONE win.

andygri added 15:15 - Oct 16
This is spot on, a really evocative take on being an Ipswich fan. When I part with my £30 on a Saturday, all I want to see is one of these magic moments. It doesn't even have to be a goal. Edwards' flick over the full-back against Blackburn, Dozza coming off the bench against Boro, the minutes applause for Beattie, singing 'Take Me Home Country Road' before the Norwich game. We had very few of these in the last 2 years under McCarthy, so whatever happens this season I just hope Hurst's team can create a few moments to savour. Just think, when our time comes again the years of hurt will make everything feel that much sweeter.

DazC added 13:32 - Oct 20
Cheers for the comments, folks! Glad some of you found it an enjoyable read.

@Skip73 - Absolutely true, hence why I said in the last couple of paragraphs that we couldn't get carried away with that win given how long it took to come and that it was by no means a comfortable one. The point though is that even that one win gives everyone - players, manager, fans alike - something to cling to, one moment where everybody managed to bond to great effect for the first time. That hadn't happened before. Now they, and we, know it can happen - it removes some of that doubt that was building over a long barren run without a win - and while it's no guarantee of a repeat, it sets a precedent and gives us something to build on. Only time will tell if we can actually do that - a defeat at home to QPR would be a massive setback in that endeavour, but a second successive win would make it feel like something was finally emerging in the new setup.

@andygri - A good point on moments not being reserved just for goals. They can be so broad as to extend to entire performances. For example, I still think back very fondly on Aaron Cresswell's Town debut at Bristol City - to have a youngster fresh out of League One look so utterly comfortable in his first Championship game, a relatively diminutive figure getting his head to everything, making perfect sliding tackles, handling all that was required of him. Michael Chopra scored twice in that game on what was also his Town debut, but it's Cresswell that left a longer lasting impression on me that day, and that day set the tone for his time at Portman Road.

Skip73 added 17:17 - Oct 20
Do you still have something to cling to after today? Just shows how low this club has sunk when we have a special blig written because we won ONE game.

DazC added 12:26 - Oct 22
Can't deny, skip, QPR was about as bad a follow-up as we could have mustered.

Rather powerless as we all are at this point in time, unless and until things get substantively better, we can only try to enjoy whatever moments like Swansea we might be able to muster in the meantime - and hope they aren't too long in coming.
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