|Green’Un With Envy|
Written by ElephantintheRoom on Thursday, 15th Aug 2019 09:53
I guess you have to be of a certain age to remember the Green’Un. Those brought up in the era of the Internet might struggle to understand the excitement of hearing a possibly still-damp newspaper of greenish hue drop through the letter box on a Saturday evening.
Its mission? To give you a full report on a match you had only just seen – or heard nothing about in the media when Town were playing away. Imagine the excitement! Or the rush to get your hands on it first to see what Tony Garnett et al had to say.
But there was more to it than that. Much more. After breathlessly reading the match report you could turn inside to some informed insight on Town’s week – and next week’s fixture(s).
Yes, we really did try and win a midweek cup tie back then. There were reports of every minor local league match you could think of. Somehow you began to care how Lowestoft Town were doing. Or Whitton. And there was even some guff on Colchester for good measure. And letters from irate supporters, which then, as now provided much comedy gold dust.
So great was the excitement in our house I was not above hiding in the porch to grab the Green’Un as it dropped through the letter box. My brother trumped this tactic by intercepting the paper boy in the road. Our exasperated dad went one step further by picking the paper up at the station and reading it at his leisure in the Railway Tavern.
As we grew up we too could be found thumbing through the pub’s copy of the Green’Un to relive those exciting moments, despair at injustices – and have something to talk over with our mates in the week ahead. And all this within two hours of the match finishing in a little town over 20 miles north of Ipswich that rarely sees a train any more, let alone a readable local paper.
The Green’Un really was something to look forward to. Not surprising I suppose in an era when we were all gathered round something ghastly like The Generation Game by way of Saturday evening entertainment. Alas the Green’Un, like the Railway Tavern, and indeed my dad, are all long gone.
I recently found some old Green’Un pages lining a trunk in the attic of my parents' old house. November 28th 1970. Blackpool 0 Ipswich 2. There was a fading picture of Mick Hill having scored from the rebound as his first effort hit the post. Nigh on 50 years ago.
If you were around at the time you know this was a seminal match. Town’s win providing another step on the road to maintaining top tier status that was shortly to blossom. Just reading those pages brought so many memories flooding back.
How did the good folk at EADT Towers manage it? This was in the era of hot metal, when ink covered hands were making up the pages back to front in the print room, presumably only minutes behind play.
Imagine the skill involved in that where a word count was constructed on the hoof, on the telephone, with no back and delete buttons. Just a committed journo with a gift for making words fit, with a typographer shouting at him – and both capable of doing it virtually live – and still making what was often a dull match played in some faraway place on a mud bath seem breathlessly exciting.
The Green’Un was an indelible part of my Town-supporting life for over two decades. As a small boy it fed my growing devotion to Town and nurtured an interest in minor league football that has stayed with me all my life.
For me it defined that unforgettable era when Town declined briefly post-Ramsey, recovered gloriously under McGarry and began the initially tortuous and ultimately stunning Robson years. It then charted the beginnings of a long slow decline in an era when we took success for granted. And then it was gone.
Through primary school and secondary school the Green ’Un was something to look forward to. It could be read – and then re-read throughout the weekend. When I left home my father got in the habit of sending the Green’Un on to me in far flung places such as Bristol and Glasgow.
By now he was buying three Green’Uns a week so he could provide the same service for his other boys. You may scoff, but living in Scotland was, as Ian Rush might say, like living in a different country. Pre-internet there was virtually no coverage of English sport at all, let alone Ipswich Town. The Green’Un was my inky lifeline. I suspect it was for generations of other supporters too.
Nowadays the local papers seem incapable of doing any capable sports journalism at all, let alone make you feel part of the fabric at Portman Road. The fillers in the local paper are usually risible. The local radio sounds like someone on the outside disbelievably looking in. The days of Tony Garnett being a respected and valuable conduit, trusted to even find and transport players to the match are long gone.
The Green’Un lived because at its heartbeat were journos valued as part of the club. Just like the devoted worthies who penned their short, informative pieces on Leiston or Wickham Market matches, their words came from their heart, direct from the heart of the club.
The Green’Un was the region’s clubs made real. Suffolk’s footballing pulse, perhaps. The heartbeat of long-gone, very different times.
I for one miss the devotion that lived on every page in the Green’Un. From those inky fingers on the printing presses, producing papers with trains and vans to catch, through journos shouting down the phone or village team managers getting their 50 words through, and yes even those angry letters. You sensed everyone involved really cared. And it showed.
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