I do not think that Max Boyce, who loved that phrase, was at Portman Road on April 28th 1962 but I was. On that day Ipswich Town became Champions of England and I know 'cos I was there.
I have made posts on this date for the last four or maybe five years commemorating that day and the months that preceded it so please indulge me as I again post my reminisces (fact checked where possible). This year is particularly poignant for me because my mum, one of the people that was with me that day, passed away in February, my dad having passed away in 2013.
In those days before substitutes each club basically had a first team and that team played if fit. I could just as easily name the Burnley or Spurs first team from that era as the Ipswich one. Normally if a first team player got injured and had to miss a game or games he was replaced by a reserve and he was straight back in when fit although in one case that did not happen in 1961/62 at Ipswich. Also if a player lost form he generally played on and on until he regained form although I suppose players did get dropped from time to time. Short of having a leg broken a player injured during a game usually stayed on the pitch and went out wide so that even if he was more or less static he could still kick the ball if it came in his direction.
Bailey, Carberry, Compton, Baxter, Nelson, Elsworthy, Stephenson, Moran, Crawford, Phillips, Leadbetter-eleven names that Ipswich followers from that era should real off automatically. They all played at least 37 of the 42 League games and all except Moran, Compton and to a lesser extent Baxter, made up the 2nd Division winning team from the previous season. Bailey, Carberry, Elsworthy, Phillips and Leadbetter were also in the team that won the 3rd Division (South) in 1956/57.
Douglas Moran was the only new signing in the summer of 1961 and he became the inside-right. John Compton came into the 1961/62 side after the third game when first team left-back Kenny Malcolm got injured and he kept his place for the rest of the season although Malcolm regained fitness and played 17 games for the Reserves. Alf Ramsey obviously made a conscious decision at some point not to bring back his 'first team' fullback. Billy Baxter got into the side in December 1960 and played all of the last 19 games of that season so by the end of 1960/61 he was becoming an established first team player. He was doing National Service in those two seasons and I believe that I am right in saying that he had to get his Commanding Officer's permission to play before each and every ITFC game.
Crawford and Phillips were a great goalscoring partnership and they scored 61 of the 93 League goals between them in 1961/62 having scored 70 of 100 the previous season. They were goalscorers in their own right with Phillips having scored 41 goals in 41 games in the 3rd Division in 1956/57 and Crawford scoring over 60 goals in his second spell at PR with Phillips no longer around. They were different though with Crawford getting a lot of goals from rebounds from Phillips' thunderous shots coming back off the keeper or the woodwork. Both were good in the air but Phillips was lethal from anywhere from thirty yards inwards because of the power of his shooting. He was also the penalty taker and not many goalkeepers tried too hard to get in the way of one of his penalties.
Although based on the goalscoring of those two the tactical genius of Alf Ramsey played a huge part in us winning the title. Wingers were normally quick and they would be expected to beat their fullback and get to the byeline and cross but Alf played Leadbetter and to a lesser extent, Stephenson much deeper and they crossed or passed from areas that wingers did not normally do back then. The opposing fullbacks had a problem as to whether to move forward to where Stephenson and Leadbetter were playing from and leave gaps behind them or to stay in their conventional place and await a winger that might never arrive.
It took all other teams that season to work out how to combat that tactic but Bill Nicholson at Spurs had his winghalfs marking Stephenson and Leadbetter and his fullbacks marking our inside forwards in the Charity Shield game at PR in August 1962 and Spur swon 5-1 but Ipswich losing Carberry to injury did not help.
Apart from the Charity Shield game that actual title winning team did not play together again until a win at Birmingham in April 1963, a game that I was also at.
So we are now at April 28th 1962 and ITFC go into their last game of the season against Aston Villa with a two point lead over Burnley but with 2 points for a win and Burnley having 2 games to play and a better goal average even a win would not guarantee the title. The official attendance figure that day was 28932, it was NOT all ticket. It took until the 72nd minute for us to score, Ray Crawford scoring with a diving header after John Elsworthy had headed a Stephenson freekick against the bar. Crawford got a second goal four minutes later although that goal does not appear on the film that I have seen of that day, it is in my head though!
We then had to wait for the Burnley result and we eventually heard that they had drawn 1-1 at home to already relegated Chelsea so they could no longer catch us and WE were Champions. Burnley also lost their last game but that was irrelevant. On hearing the result there were pitch invasions and the players were hoisted onto shoulders.
I have not started rambling about other memories from that season but will leave it there apart from mentioning three things that I always associate with those times.
Firstly, the team running onto the pitch to the tune 'Entry Of The Gladiators'.
Secondly, the crowd singing 'Keep Right On To The End Of The Road' which was and is a Birmingham City song and I have no idea when ITFC supporters adopted it or finished using.
Thirdly, Ipswich bus conductor Swede Herring going round the pitch pumping up the supporters 'One, Two, Three, Four , Who are we for, I-P-(you know the rest)
On April 28th 1962 Ipswich Town became Champions Of England and I know 'cos I was there.
It was not a shock because she had been in hospital for two weeks and we were told on Friday morning that she probably only had hours to go, she was also 95.
The reason that I am posting this at all is because I want to thank her and my late dad (he died 8 years ago next month) for introducing me to ITFC.
I might have discovered ITFC anyway but it helped having club supporting parents.
They first took me when I was aged 3 or 4, it could have been either but my first memory of football (and probably anything else) puts it at that time.
I know I was at PR on 22nd March 1958 with my dad because that was when my sister was born and the midwife wanted me and dad out of the way.
I have memories of F.A. Cup games against Luton and Peterborough in 1959 and 1960 and the opening of the floodlights at PR in 1960 but most of my real ITFC memories start with 1961/62- but that is another story