|This is Where I Came In|
Written by LegendRay on Wednesday, 24th Apr 2019 15:33
If you’re old enough to remember where this saying came from, you can probably remember Town playing in the third tier!
In old times cinemas (like the Picture House or Gaumont in the 50s and 60s), an A and B film (and Pathe News) were left running continuously all day; you could go in and come out at any time.
So often, you’d arrive half way through one film, sit through that half and the others, and then leave at the point you came in, uttering the time-honoured phrase.
It didn’t seem to matter that you saw the two halves in wrong order.
Anyway, back to football and where I came in. February 23rd 1957 at Portman Road, in the Third Division South. This was the third tier (and the lowest tier) split into North and South to making travel costs for away matches easier.
One team was promoted from each of the two regional third divisions – nothing for second, and of course no play-offs. The bottom teams from each division ‘applied for re-election’, which meant the chairmen of all their fellow clubs had to decide whether to throw them out; funnily enough (with a fear of what might happen to them next season) they very rarely did!
Records (including The Men Who Made the Town by John Eastwood and Tony Moyse) show that me and my dad were part of a 13,548 crowd. I recall sitting on wooden seats in the old East Stand, (the only stand where there were any seats) only until the real occupant came along and I was hoisted into my dad’s lap; he’d only bought one ticket - ‘lad’s been warming it for you’. I was eight years old.
The magic of that day, the lustrous green turf, the clamour of the people, the noise, the colour, the aroma of cigarettes, set me up for the next 63 years of following the Town.
Not a bad start as we won 5-0, scoring the first after just 10 seconds. Being only eight, my most vivid memory is of the Newport goalkeeper, Len Weare, having mud removed from his eye!
It was Sir Alf’s second season as manager and turned out to be very significant. In the early stages, Norwich were top and we were bottom (sound familiar!). But by the end the positions had been reversed! (one day again!) .
We did the double on them, and scored four or more on 13 occasions that season. The late great Ted Phillips was just coming into his pomp and scored 46 times that season in league and cup – more than the whole team these days.
Promotion was dramatic. We had to beat Southampton away and hope that Torquay wouldn’t win; then we’d get that one promotion place on goal average. There was no way of keeping in touch with results – no radio coverage, text, nothing until the newspaper the next day….unless….in our case, Dad knew someone at the Ipswich phone exchange (that’s where they used to stick cables into holes in the wall to connect calls) who eavesdropped on the press lines and rang him with the good news!
Two other major markers for the future happened that season:
And Alastair Cobbold handed over the chairman’s role to his cousin John Cobbold, then only 29, but already well known in the brewing trade (!), and soon to be well known in football circles... but that’s a further story.
So, as well as basking in nostalgia, what else can memories do for us to give an uplift at times like these?
Hope: no-one in the world could have imagined in February 1957 that in four years' time I’d be running round the pitch with the players celebrating promotion to the First Division… and then one year later in April 1962... come on, you’re kidding me!
Loyalty: however many years you’ve experienced the many ups and downs of ITFC, the club needs the permanence of the fans more than the transitory players
Heartland: as Paul Lambert has said many times, ITFC is an integral part of the town, not part of some international money-go-round. The third tier has a lot of those sort of clubs, many existing in towns that are struggling economically compared to Ipswich, with grounds and standing only terracing to match.
Heartlands of their communities and of what the real Football League is about. A very different experience to ‘the European tour’ indeed, but one where the experience teach us a thing or two (but hopefully not over too many seasons!).
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