Judge Relishing Return to Brentford
Monday, 8th Apr 2019 17:52
Town midfielder Alan Judge is relishing his return to former club Brentford on Wednesday, exactly three years and one day since he suffered a horror injury while playing for the Bees at Portman Road.
It was on April 9th 2016 that the Dubliner was stretchered off with a double leg fracture following an early clash with Luke Hyam, who was booked and later red-carded for a second yellow just before half-time.
Judge did not return to senior action for a further 21 months and then in January this year he left Griffin Park after five years to join Town on a short-term deal through to the end of the season.
Such is the impact he has made at Portman Road – he has been ever-present in a run of 13 league games – that boss Paul Lambert last week snapped him up on a fresh two-year deal through to the summer of 2021, with the club having the option to retain his service for a further year after that.
The Republic of Ireland international said: “Brentford was a good place for me and I am looking forward to going back as an Ipswich player.
"I had two or three of my best years in football there but I’m not really sure what it’s going to be like. I’d like to think their fans will give me a good reception. I think I did some good things for them while I was there and I always had a good rapport with the supporters.”
The record books reflect the considerable impact Judge made at Griffin Park, initially moving there on loan from Blackburn in January 2014 and netting seven goals in 22 League One appearances to help the Bees finish behind champions Wolves in the second automatic promotion place.
There was even better to come the following season. Among the relegation favourites, they instead took the Championship by storm to finish fifth but lose out in the play-offs to Middlesbrough.
In 2015/16, although they dropped four places to end up ninth, it was a memorable campaign for Judge as he was the club’s joint-top scorer on 14 goals alongside Danish striker Lasse Vibe and was the only Bees’ star to be named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year.
If Town are relegated – their fate could be sealed on Wednesday if they lose and Millwall, Reading and Millwall win – Judge is hoping history repeats itself and he can win a second promotion from League One title-winning medal next term.
“When I left Blackburn to join Brentford they were in League One at the time. I could have stayed in the Championship but I saw Brentford were doing quite well in League One and I fancied being a part of it. The challenge of winning promotion appealed to me and hopefully it will be the same here next year.
“The way things worked out, it was probably one of the best things in my career. I had five years at Brentford and I count myself lucky because I had a lot more good times than bad times. I know a lot of people there and I’m close to a lot of them so it will be nice to go back and see them.
“I’ll probably think about being back there more after the game. At the moment I’m just looking forward to getting another game under my belt.
"They were unbelievable to me at Brentford, especially when I picked up the injury. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the way they looked after me I probably wouldn’t be back playing again.
"I was looked after by the physio staff, all great lads, and we all put a lot of work into getting me fit again. I have nothing but respect for everybody at Brentford.”
Judge returns to the familiar surroundings of Griffin Park having played his part in Town’s 2-1 win at second-bottom Bolton on Saturday, only their fourth of the current campaign third since Lambert took charge 26 games ago and first since he signed up in January.
“It was great to get a win,” he said. “It was the longest spell in my career without a win so it was good to end that. It would be great if we could get another one against Birmingham on Saturday because getting back-to-back wins would be a big step for us, even if we do go down.
“At the moment we are just going out to enjoy the games. At Bolton I felt we could have gone up another two or three gears but while we didn’t exactly pepper the goal we did play really well and the big man [Collin Quaner] finished off two great chances.
“We got back in the dressing room and saw we were still 13 points from safety but there’s no end-of-season feeling here. We’re looking forward to each game and there are players who still have a lot to prove if they are going to be in the manager’s thoughts for next season.”
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