|Climbing Up the Walls|
Written by Mullet on Tuesday, 29th Sep 2020 09:43
The world has undoubtedly changed and with it, until some indeterminate point, football has done too. Not only have we seen another club disappear as the fans of Macclesfield joined those of Bury in being locked out of the game, we might count ourselves lucky to only be locked out of Portman Road for our own good.
Paying a tenner (or more if you’re a season ticket holder) to watch where the ball often used to be, shooting to views of the underside of the roof might have been like pulling your own teeth during the first half against Rochdale. It was evident that Town’s excellent start to the season might well give us hope.
But what is football without us fans? It is less a question more a platitude in normal times, but now it has become an existential exercise when Saturday comes.
The laptop and the tablet have become the windows to games we now press ourselves up against these days, hoping to get our fix. And whilst the view might be universal, opinions about what is happening at Ipswich, as ever will vary.
Whilst Town have rarely made a start to a season this good since George Burley’s promotion season, that was of course a lifetime and a whole division away from where we are now.
Those who already look for omens and those simply looking at the league table might well ponder if this is the season we go up; or go down whimpering yet again thanks to Covid-induced points per game conclusions.
Whatever your feelings about this season or last, if this is going to be the promotion campaign Lambert fluffed previously, will it mean as much in an empty Portman Road week after week?
Victory might well be my favourite smell at football, the power of the olfactory organ can take you back in time and place. If like me you’ve found this lockdown has made you look backwards rather than forward to going to games, you too might find softening onions in the kitchen or a bad cup of coffee conjures untold hours shuffling from pub, to plastic seat, to tumbling into strangers during those moments of exhilaration a Blues goal always brings.
Should Town players keep putting their fingers in their ears as they pull out all the stops. Then it might not be too arrogant to think that eventually a place back in the Championship will inevitably be ours. The resentment that used to bring surely washed away by our plunge into these murkier waters.
While it is still hard to accept that winning the third tier is now a priority let alone a point of pride for Ipswich, for a large chunk of our fans it will be the only moment of blue and white glory they’ve ever had. To be taken from them is especially cruel.
I doubt many diehards across the globe remember the moment the chisel touches their trophy, but if you were a seven year-old at the Manor Ground like I was in April 1992, then the stills stored in your brain from that day are priceless.
From the groan of the fence under the weight of expectant joy. From being on shoulders on the pitch, with the players on your level in glimpses. That jubilation comes instantly to mind for me. From dodging the boots of Dozzell Snr as he is paraded past your head, to seeing his boy sprinkling magic all over our screens might lay some common ground between the decades and generations. These moments are the seeds from which myth and legend grow.
Friends and family should be at your shoulder when in the rows behind the goal and blue action is all around you. You should have to squint to see who has the ball every so often it makes the spectacle. But seeing it in your slippers as you trade WhatsApp jokes or colour commentary via tweets? It’s never going to be the same, is it?
On the one hand, victory at all costs including the thrill of drinking in those last-gasp goals, nervy runs of form and flair players alike being sacrificed might seem worth it now. Just get back to the second tier and hope to resume as much of good life we lost in the past couple of years. With the rest of this league throwing a cap over us all, time is of the essence for Ipswich and other clubs who used to be our rivals higher up the pyramid.
It may well be that by the time the business end of the season comes into view we are all left to worry about the mundane aspects of parking, whether it’s sit anywhere or not today, and who do you know who has a gold card for the next batch of tickets on sale.
Those trivial anxieties returning seem like welcome distractions from the intervening real-life tolls on our mental health and isolation. During the months where the prospect of weeks without crowds caused many teams in this league to wave off putting on games, it is worth noting the league may diminish before the season is over.
However this campaign plays out, it is not just managers and chairmen who are having to adapt. While some can put staff on furlough and thrive on TV returns, others will dread if they can ever welcome those they have placed at home again.
With the stands so still, the stadiums are a perfect conduit for the emptiness within the game without us there. It seems certain that never before will so many remember a season they weren’t really there to see.
Where's the value in that? We'll know when they let us back in, won't we?
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