Burgess: Portman Road Was a Massive Draw
Friday, 24th Sep 2021 06:00
Portman Road is where it all started in English football for Town new boy Cameron Burgess and for that reason it will always have a special place in the big defender’s heart.
Burgess was only 18 when he lined up for first club Fulham in a 2-1 defeat by the Blues on the opening day of the 2014/15 season and he is delighted it has become his new home following last month’s move from League One rivals Accrington Stanley.
He recalled: “Ipswich is a massive club and my debut at Portman Road will always stick with me. It was a massive draw, the size of the club and the home attendances, together with the project that the new owners have started.
“Everything is very positive about the place and where the club wants to get to, and it’s down to me and the other players to give the fans something to shout about.”
Burgess had a run of four games – all defeats – with the Cottagers before loan spells at Ross County, Cheltenham Town, Oldham Athletic and Bury broadened his experience ahead of a three-year deal at Scunthorpe in 2017.
He had a further loan stint at Salford before joining Stanley in 2020 and only missed one league game in his first and only season with them.
Joining Town means he has been reunited with defensive partner George Edmundson, the pair having been teammates at Oldham during the first half of the 2016/17 campaign, although they only played together once, a 5-4 EFL Trophy defeat at home to Carlisle.
“George was coming through at the club back then and went on to do really well for them before moving up to Scotland with Rangers,” Burgess said.
“I was on loan there and that’s how we know each other. I knew what I was getting into when I came here!
“George is a strong character and you can see that in the dressing room as well as out on the pitch. He’s a commanding lad and he can pass the ball as well. If he can continue playing the way he did on Saturday at Lincoln we shouldn’t be too far away.
“You need to have strong characters, leaders, in the group and we are fortunate to have a number of them. There’s a lot of experience, there are guys who have played at a higher level and guys who have played a lot of games in League One.
“We take bits from each other on different things. We have leaders capable of leading in different ways as well.
“Not everyone is a massive talker but there are a lot of influential figures in the changing room and there are different ways of leading.
“All of it will stand us in good stead going forward and the other thing is that we have a number of young players who can only benefit from the guys who have been around a bit longer and have so many tips to pass on.”
Edmundson and Burgess have only paired up in two games so far but as right and left-footed players, respectively, they could play a lot of games in tandem during the remainder of the season. Burgess added: “I like the balance of having a right-footed central defender alongside me.
“But you also get the likes of Harry Maguire and John Terry, when he was playing, who prefer to play on the opposite side.
“It just depends where you are most comfortable. I’m a leftie and I prefer to play on the left because that’s where I feel most comfortable but it’s different with some other players.”
Burgess looked back to last week’s 1-0 win at Lincoln, the club’s first of the season, and said: “The first half on Saturday was one of the most enjoyable 45 minutes I’ve had in a long time.
“There were two sides to the game because it was roll your sleeves up and grit your teeth in the second half when we had to hold on to the clean sheet and we were faced with a bit of adversity in the shape of injuries.
“In the first half it was more calm and nice football, so it was definitely a tale of two halves, both of them enjoyable in different ways, but I do like to feel I’m comfortable on the ball and at Fulham that was how we played in the youth team and going forward from there.
“I’ve been used to having the ball at my feet from a young age and it’s nice to be a part of it now.”
Aberdeen-born Burgess emigrated to Australia with his family when he was 11 and returned to the UK in 2011 to join the Fulham academy.
His accent is more Scottish than Australian and he laughed: “The joke in the family is that we’re Scaussies – a bit half and half. For me home is probably Australia because that’s where my parents, my sister and some cousins are and it’s nice to get back to the family home, if you like.
“But I still have a lot of family members in Scotland as well and I enjoying going up there to visit them. With the lockdown and the restrictions on travelling abroad I’ve liked the fact that I’ve been able to go up there and see my relatives.
“Actually, it’s not too different living in Suffolk, a bit easy-osey if you know what I mean. Everyone is quite chilled out and enjoying a slower pace of life here in Ipswich and it’s similar to what it’s like in Perth, where my family live.
“I don’t think the Australian lifestyle can be beaten in my opinion and I’m looking to go back there at some point in the future. It would be pretty cool to go and live there in my later years.
“It’s been tough being one of 19 new players having to settle in here – finding somewhere to live, family and a three-year-old black Labrador who is absolutely nuts moving down – but that’s the world we live in and we just have to get on with it and deal with it.
“The club have been great and with us all being in hotels we’ve got to know each other really well. It’s been a crazy experience so far and hopefully, now that everyone is settled, it will show on the pitch with a run of improved performances and results.”
Football definitely runs in Burgess’s family, his father Stuart, also a central defender, playing in the Scottish Premier League for Falkirk and Kilmarnock, as well as Albion Rovers and East Fife, where he had two spells.
On his mother’s side, meanwhile, grandfather Campbell Forsyth was a Scotland international goalkeeper who played for St Mirren and Kilmarnock before coming south of the border when he was transferred to Southampton in 1965 and going on to help them gain promotion to the First Division for the first time in the club’s history.
Forsyth passed away in November last year at the age of 86 and Burgess added: “We have a few shirts and other items of memorabilia of his, the things they used to play with back in the day, and you can’t believe what the kits were like that they used to wear.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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