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How This Young Boy Fell In Love
Written by portmantales on Thursday, 18th Jul 2019 14:06

Why do you still support Ipswich? This question has been regularly put to me during the previous decade of stagnation in the Championship.

Our recent relegation has only served to increase the regularity of such a discussion with those of my friends who both follow football and claim to support a club in Premier League.

It is my own reflection of the previous season that has inspired me to look back to when I started supporting the club. If this blog is appreciated, then I will likely take a few more future dives into the memory bank of my childhood supporting the Town.

August 2000. A time of smoking areas in restaurants, light up shoes, Craig David releasing Seven Days and most importantly a single-tiered North Stand. The fear of Y2K was long forgotten, and Ipswich had just been promoted to the Premier League.

My dad saw promotion as the perfect opportunity to rid eight-year-old me of any attempt to follow the ‘cool kids’ at school into supporting Manchester United or Liverpool. I promise that a Liverpool shirt a year prior along with a Michael Owen Soccer Skills video was as far as this went!

The fixtures were released and Ipswich’s first home game would be against reigning Premiership champions Manchester United, needless to say my father had an easier time convincing me to go than I imagine many Ipswich supporting parents would now trying to entice their child to Ipswich v Sunderland in League One.

Portman Road on first impression was a colossus of a stadium, my seat in the upper tier of the Britannia towered over both the Churchman’s and North stands, letting me gaze off into the outskirts of Ipswich whenever a break in play occurred. My only other experience of a football ground had been at Stowmarket Town which is a different story altogether!

I also seem to recall there being fireworks on the pitch prior to kick off and Crazee being introduced as a new mascot – although hopefully someone could correct me if I am wrong.

Looking back on the line-ups of the day, it is hard not to look back in awe at the United XI. It featured Red Devils legends Giggs, Keane, Neville and err….Ronnie Wallwork amongst others. However after only a few minutes I can vividly remember Fabian Wilnis celebrating in front of me after putting Town ahead with a low finish across Fabian Barthez. I believe the kids nowadays would call this goal ‘absolute scenes’ or ‘limbs’.

Whilst not being entirely invested in Ipswich winning the game, it was special to see David Beckham score a freekick to equalise, albeit the goal was not quite an England v Greece trademark. Ipswich would hold on to start their home campaign with a 1-1 draw.

My only other fleeting memory of the game is Roy Keane hitting the bar after a freekick being taken from the wrong position. Jeff Winter was referee for the day, the same Jeff Winter who has chosen a Not Safe For Work method of advertising his new clothing line (one for Google if you haven’t seen it), and I do not explicitly recall any other dubious decisions but then again I was only eight!

For a first game it certainly left me wanting to go again, although I could not say without researching who the second game of the season was against. But this game certainly planted the seed of my Ipswich Town-supporting life. A life that would take me from watching Alun Armstrong leaping like a salmon to score against Inter Milan to experiencing Larsen Toure’s infamous corner along with all in between.

It would be interesting to hear if anyone else had Manchester United as their inaugural game or alternatively took their child as a first. Also, was the atmosphere as shockingly loud as this former eight-year-old remembers?


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Marinerspumaboots added 15:30 - Jul 18
Good blog and you're right it was loud that night!👍⚽️

carlisleaway added 16:21 - Jul 18
Great blog from an elder fan who has watched Ipswich through the McGarry, Robson and Keane years, appreciative blog from a younger fan because this is what we desperately need now. As you mentioned it will be difficult to attract the younger fan in the 1st Division, it will be a difficult year and hope that promotion back to the Championship is gained......but this is not a given because pressure will be on the players to achieve this, take a look at Sunderland who had more money than us to work with.

roystevensonsrocket added 16:46 - Jul 18
The first game I vividly recollect is against Fulham on a bank holiday monday winning 4-2 against Fulham in 1962 . This was amazing as we had been beaten 10-0 by Fulham I think 2days previously as the fixtures used to go in those days.

ElephantintheRoom added 09:03 - Jul 19
A fine effort. I remember that night well which effectively kick started the season. There have been many memorable Town gamesv Man U in my time. I think Denis Law got 6 goals in the first two Man U games I saw.... we often here about the 6-0 win, but rarely an even more memorable 2-7 which followed a 3-5. My more vivid memories are of David Best keeping out Booby Charlton single handedly only to be beaten by a Mick McNeil own goal and a stunning 4-1 in the sunshine with Frank Clarke and Jimmy Robertson in full flow and George Best playing as though hung over. I'm not sure that these are dark days just yet. Not many can remember 3rd division games at Portman Road and the season ahead has real novelty value (as long as the club can compete). Time will tell.

MVBlue added 17:16 - Jul 19
Sir Alex Fergeson was quoted as saying that the atmosphere was certainly one of the most electric he'd felt ever. Quite some remark coming from him.

Skip73 added 09:23 - Jul 21
The 2nd home game that season was 4 days later vs Sunderland, we won 1-0 with Titus Bramble scoring the winner after a storming run from defence down the middle of the pitch. On another note, my first game was Ipswich 1 Wolves 0, Oct 10 1981. Kevin O'Callaghan scoring after 8 mins from a tight angle.

bobble added 08:03 - Aug 9
my first game was a eufa cup game against Widzew Łódź somebody called johnny wark scored a hat trick....apperently he went on to be quite useful....johnny wark..johnny wark..johnny warkkkk srill rings in my ears nearly 40 years later..
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