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A Scarf of Blue and White Bars
Written by SpiritOfJohn on Saturday, 20th Nov 2021 11:30

Things were different in the 1970s. Glam Rock and Chopper bikes were cool, there were strikes and power cuts and only three channels on the television.

The nearest things we had to social media were <i>Points of View</i> and the letters section of the newspaper. After school we would play football in the street until we got called in for tea.

Life seemed much simpler then. For a couple of years I was vaguely aware that my dad took my older brother to watch football on Saturday afternoons and, older brothers being what they are, I must have heard many fantastic stories about how amazing it was to go and watch the star players of Ipswich Town.

When I was finally big enough to join the fun I was presented with a blue and white bar scarf (these were the days before the team name was included in the scarf pattern) and off we went. We parked some distance away from the stadium and walked for what seemed like hours to reach our destination.

When we arrived at the ground there weren't many people about - there were still two hours until kick-off. We had to get there early because there was limited space at the wall behind the goal and that was the only place where I could get a view of the action that wouldn't be obstructed by other fans.

Dad had carried a small footstool from the car into the North Stand and when he placed it by the wall I could just about see over the barrier. The view of the pitch at this height was limited in terms of perspective, but when there was a corner the players all looked like giants.

I had a navy blue shirt with long sleeves that had white cuffs and a white collar (no club badge) that I played football in (pretending to be Trevor Whymark), but I don't remember any people wearing replica shirts at football matches.

Back in the 70s everyone who had team colours wore a scarf, and it wasn't uncommon for people to wear two or three at once! There were a number of songs that required scarves - one popular action was twirling the scarf above the head - often accompanied by the lyrics "We're gonna win the cup! We're gonna win the cup! Eee-aye-adio! We're gonna win the cup!"

The most impressive and therefore most popular action requiring a scarf was to hold it outstretched above the head, thus obscuring the view of the person standing behind, so was best performed when there was a break in play.

There were three Ipswich songs that accompanied this display: "And it's Ipswich Town, Ipswich Town FC, We're the finest football team the world has ever seen!", <i>You'll Never Walk Alone</i> (not just a Liverpool song - listen to the 1978 FA Cup final just before the final whistle!) and my personal favourite which was simply "Ipswich, Ipswich, Ipswich, Ipswich" to the tune of Amazing Grace.

I have a memory of hearing the "Ipswich, Ipswich" song in full voice before the start of the first FA Cup semi-final against West Ham United at Villa Park in 1975, where the display of scarves and banners was truly awesome.

I always thought it would be good to have more words to the "Ipswich, Ipswich" song so thought I would have a go (better late than never):

<b>A Scarf of Blue and White Bars</b>

When first I went to Portman Road
I must have been but seven
To see the Blues on the green grass
I thought I'd gone to Heaven.

Dad gave me a scarf of blue and white bars
And said this is our team
I wore that scarf from noon to night
I wore it in my dreams.

Ipswich, Ipswich you are my team
Win, lose or draw
Ipswich, Ipswich in blue and white
Ipswich forever more.

We stood through wind and rain and
Sun and snow behind the goal
Blue and white pumped through our veins
The Town was in my soul.

We beat the best that England had
Then Europe came to call
Platini, Cruyff, Milan, Madrid
Unbeaten by them all.

Ipswich, Ipswich you are my team
Win, lose or draw
Ipswich, Ipswich in blue and white
Ipswich forever more.

And now I take my girl to watch
My Dad's up in the stars
She sits between my Mum and me
With a scarf of blue and white bars.

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shaunmahony added 14:26 - Nov 20
Yes, I was on the Villa Park half way line at the 1975 semi v West Ham - I will never forget the sound of Ipswich Ipswich to Amazing Grace rolling down from the Holt end like a tidal wave of noise. I was amazed at how loud it was and it sounded like a song and not just a chant. It was the best I ever heard a Town crowd sing - very simple; one word Ipswich to a great tune - nothing beats it and it should be revived

dusth added 22:06 - Nov 21
I was there with my mate the late Peter Ball, then sport editor of Time Out where I worked. Such a great atmosphere and such a great performance by the team and the most gut wrenching decisions against us. We trailed out hemmed in by delirious Hammers supporters singing "I'm For Ever Blowing Bubbles" and I can't hear it sung on TV matches without feeling sick. "Ipswich,Ipswich ...!!"

dusth added 22:07 - Nov 21
Sorry this was the replay at Stamford Bridge.

DifferentGravy added 12:05 - Nov 22
Nice piece. Like the last verse of your version, quite moving

ElephantintheRoom added 10:44 - Nov 24
Hmm yes - the 1975 semi Whilst most grouch about Clive Thomas in the replay, the first game you describe at Villa Park was a sign of things to come - Beattie getting injured - replaced by Whymark in defence to make our attack pretty impotent and making the defeence something of a lottery. Beattie was to injure himself in another semifinal a few years hence. I tghink you need to modify your lyrics a bit... European ties are played over two legs - and the only one of those 4 ties that Town actually won were against Real Madrid and St Etienne. Inter, AC, Barcelona x 2 all won

SpiritOfJohn added 18:52 - Nov 24
@ElephantintheRoom thanks for your comments, I have no recollection of the game itself, so it was interesting to read those details, but the singing has stayed with me. As for the poem, the line 'Then Europe came to call' denotes the fact that the best continental teams came to our place, and did any of them beat us at Portman Road? No. Hence, we were unbeaten when they came to call, even though some of them did defeat us over two legs.

ElephantintheRoom added 14:11 - Nov 29
SpiritofJohn - didn't mean to sound critical - enjoyed your blog, which brought back many memories, thanks.... just pointing out that those European campaigns tended to end very suddenly, usually after an exciting and easy home victory... aside from the self-destruction in Leipzig, in which Town managed to lose to the worst team they played in a pulsating run, the other implosion that stands out is contriving to lose 4-0 away to Club Bruges. That was an era when foreign teams and players were largely unknown and that excitement of the unknown and Town's Cobbold-enhanced reputation for bonhomie and entertainment made the club what it was. Town HAVE lost at home in European competition.... to Port Vale in the revised and awful Anglo Italian league.

stocktractor added 23:39 - Dec 26

WheelyBad added 14:20 - Jan 1
@SpiritOfJohn I found the words of your song/ poem incredibly moving. The last verse especially. The early verses really remind me of my first game which would have been a few years later, early 80s. I was leant a scarf for the match then I got my own one for the following Christmas - which I still have. Your first couple of verse took me right back to being that little 5/6 year old and the wonder of seeing that big green pitch and all the people and the noise. the way those blue and red kits stood out against the pitch and the stands. Something quite magical about seeing all that for the first time.
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