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Happy Anniversary of Ipswich Winning the Top Division on 28th April 1962
Written by HegansDog on Thursday, 28th Apr 2022 09:00

I cannot compete with the fine recollections of the 1961/62 season produced by Elephant-in-the-Room.

A major consolation for recently entering my 70s is that I, too, remember bits of that season which culminated 60 years ago on Thursday 28th April as Ipswich won the First Division title at the first attempt, still unparalleled.

First confession: I saw hardly any of the decisive game against Aston Villa. I was with my brothers in our usual spot at the front of the wooden Cobbold Stand, close to the North Stand, in what was called the Celery Trench, presumably because, at pitchside, it was below the level of the pitch, as if well ‘dug in’ to the ground.

It was 95 per cent uncovered, and I remember an earlier match where it was raining heavily, but we were mortified to be approached by a policeman telling us ‘Your mother (who was watching from the North Stand) says to get to the back to be out of the rain’.

For most of the season, we small ones were passed to the front to get a good view of the game. Unfortunately, the adults were less accommodating that day.

As I recall, the steps in the Celery Trench were easily wide enough for two people and with only two-to-three inches difference in height. So, I might have seen the occasional throw-in or speeding winger, but that was it. So the game for me was about feeling the excitement, anticipation and hope with those who could see what was unfolding.

My recollection is that virtually no Ipswich fans thought we could actually win the title, so there was total disbelief when the Burnley result came through a few minutes after the win against Villa.

There are clear parallels there with the FA Cup Final in 1978 where Clive Woods mesmerised the mighty Arsenal in what one newspaper cleverly headlined ‘The 1-0 Massacre’. On the train home from Wembley, most of us still did not quite believe we had actually won.

I agree with Elephant that the season’s highlights were the four games against the two favourites, Spurs and Burnley, won by the extraordinary margin of 15-9, I think!

It was great to be reminded of past heroes. ‘Sticks’ Leadbetter would be my nomination for the most un-athletic looking professional footballer in history.

Billy Baxter held the team together in the barren years that followed as his good anticipation and extraordinary leap belied his being outstandingly short for a centre-back.

Ray Crawford was the original boys' own hero. Alf Ramsey was patient when my biro wouldn’t work when collecting his autograph.

And Elephant-in-the-Room triggered other memories: of begging our mother to take us to Joe Lyons Tea Shop on Tavern Street to ogle the players after training and of taking war comics to entertain us at the ground in the long wait before the games started.

As Wordsworth put it, "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive. But to be young was very Heaven".

Daniel Vulliamy

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bluebudgie added 22:16 - Apr 28


Carberry added 08:41 - May 31
What a wonderful quotation to end your evocative piece. Lovely memories. I too remember gazing at them in Joe Lyons - how times have changed. Thanks for sharing Daniel.
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