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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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alfromcol added 10:06 - Aug 15
Totally agree, this goes back to the era when we were in the 3rd Division South. We used to wait outside the papershop in Manningtree for the van to arrive from Ipswich with the GreenUns. My role was to take a copy home for my Dad. What excitement when the van arrived! Oh for those simple days and not all the hype and problems of the media circus of today. But hey ho, that's progress.


Heathlander added 10:17 - Aug 15
I loved the Green'Un. I used to sit by the front door waiting for it to drop in at around 7 on a Saturday evening. I loved pouring through the results, the goal scorers, the league tables and attendances. You can't find that easily these days.

Not sure I agree with your comment on the local journos. I think with TWTD, Ipswich Star and Radio Suffolk we actually have really good coverage of our beloved team. Great article though.

N2_Blue added 10:27 - Aug 15
Great read. Football and following it had soul before the era of internet and premierleague money. I miss those days, and listening via radio, following grandstand and relying on the papers for any snippets on Town. Even TWTD doesn't make up for those days, (Sorry Phil!)

Colin_Viljoen added 11:34 - Aug 15
I remember Kevin Beattie coming into the Sporting Farmer (Drum & Monkey) after a home game, grabbing a copy of the Green un, to read about how he had played in the game.

jontysnut added 15:43 - Aug 15
I always enjoyed the intro when they were clearly filling copy early on ' The sun was low with occasional cloud cover, a light wind blowing from the north east' Where are Hotspur and Achilles now?

ElephantintheRoom added 17:03 - Aug 15
jontysnut yes indeed. There was always the wierd and wonderful descrpitors like red-haired player x. Or the wonderfully evocative 'crisp tackle' (invariably by Derek Jefferson).

armchaircritic59 added 23:38 - Aug 15
Ah yes, happy memories indeed. Always looked forward to a copy of the "Green Un", even after home matches that i'd attended. I know somewhere amongst my various possessions, i've a copy of it, the day we confirmed the "First Division" title in 1962.

Loved the comment about Derek Jefferson and the "crisp tackle"! I've recounted this story on here in the past, but as i always chuckle whenever i think about it, i'll repeat it. I can assure everyone it's true.

One afternoon i was at home and i heard something come through the letterbox. It turned out to be a 'religious' magazine of some sort. I believe it might have been 'The War Cry'. On fliipping it over and seeing the back page, i was amazed to see an interview with Derek Jefferson! I think it's quite well known that he ' found' religion at some stage. The article touched on a few things, then came to the subject of football. The interviewer ascertained that DJ still played sometimes for a local side, then asked if he still played the game the same way, to which DJ gave the priceless (and undoubtly true) reply. " Yes, only these days i go back to see if they're allright"!

Crawfordsboot added 13:13 - Aug 16
Where was home 20 miles north of Ipswich?
My territory 1960 to 1970

micky_1560 added 13:25 - Aug 16
Good call this one!

The 'Green Un' was like radio, you read the words and formed your own pictures on the action.
You felt part of the Town, part of local football.
Whilst I work with and embrace IT, with it's live coverage and up to date details, sometimes the simple things (no disrespect to all the hard work mentioned to produce the paper) in life cannot be replaced.

pablovian added 00:07 - Aug 17
At one time, a dozen or so copies of the Green 'Un would be dropped off at 6.20 pm on Saturdays, at the newsagents in the village where I lived, by a man on the Eastern Counties double-decker bus that ran between Ipswich and Sudbury.

TractorViking added 06:16 - Aug 17
Good memories ! As a Norwegian fan, I subsribed on Green'Un. Getting it in my mailbox every Wed was a weekly highlight.

Bluespeed225 added 15:09 - Aug 18
I once read, in the 90’s, that Kevin Keegan was a subscriber when at Newcastle. He loved the local league stuff!

fergalsharkey added 13:13 - Aug 21
is tony garnett still alive?

Rozeeboy74 added 13:09 - Aug 22
I seem to remember the articles being quite detailed but then rushed at the end due to typesetting and timing of the print run. So the report on the Wimbledon game for example would have been all about Ipswich huffing and puffing, and then it would have finished with something like:

"..........but Ipswich scored 2 late goals to win."

rfretwell added 13:15 - Aug 22
Yes Fergal I'm pretty sure Tony is still going strong. I worked at the EADT for a couple of years in those days - some of the best working days of my life. Tony, Dave Allard, Elvin Martin, great characters there who loved a pint and game of snooker at the EADT Sports and Social Club next door.

Meadowlark added 07:59 - Aug 30
As a youngster, I used to have to cycle in to Lowestoft town centre on a Saturday evening to purchase my copy from an old boy who stood outside The Lowestioft Journal offices. I was never quite sure whether he was an official seller, was on some sort of commission or was just doing everyone a favour. I think he was only there for about an hour. He had an old trade bike parked up with his papers stacked in the front basket if I remember correctly. Of course, he sold the Pink'un as well, but we don't talk about that!
The reports were so detailed that you had to skip through them, but the team news section on the inside was fascinating. Most of the local league stuff was "far away" in the unknown villages of south Suffolk, but it certainly improved my local geography skills.

FromIpswichToPhoenix added 00:08 - Aug 31
When did it end?
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