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Sunday 10th December 2000
Written by TimS on Wednesday, 9th Dec 2015 11:05

Dear diary, what were you doing 15 years ago on 10th December 2000? Doing a bit of Christmas shopping? Still having a bit of a post-Millennium personal hangover?

It was 15 years ago this Thursday when I was privileged to watch the best Town game that I (still to this day) have ever seen.

Games come and go. Even East Anglian derby matches can melt into each other like a cremated box of chocolates in the sun. You do not know what are the strawberry creams or the toffees.

Very few games stand out on and off the pitch. But for me, Liverpool v Ipswich on Sunday 10th December 2000 will remain one of the most memorable games which I have had the pleasure to attend.

It is a bold claim. Let me explain. I am a 35 years old at the moment. I was 20 in 2000. I was born in 1980. People were telling me in 2000 (and still in 2015) that Town were a pretty decent team in 1980.

Seeing as I was about five years old, I had to gabble that I could not remember the Robson days. I did not really appreciate Town in the top flight in the early nineties. Every match seemed to be a struggle leading to a messy embarrassing end in 1995.

History will tell about Town’s seemingly never-ending ‘exciting’ play off battles in the late 1990s but there was a lot of dross to sit through; games that seemed pointless before kick-off, and even more bizarre at the end.

I enjoyed the Wembley play-off final, I would have been crazy if I didn’t but that game passed in a blur.

The start of the 2000/01 also seemed to lack intensity for me. Town were playing Tottenham on the first day of that season and lost 3-1. I was not surprised. It was when I began to get personally involved in the season that I began to realise that every week did not necessarily mean that Town would lose 9-0.

I was studying in North Wales at the time so had the chance to catch Town in the North West of England, a trip to Goodison Park at the end of September 2000 started the fun. -3-0 on my Gran’s birthday! I remember spending most of the match marvelling at the main stand at Goodison Park which seemed to finish roughly where the clouds started.

I was a child of the 1980s. Liverpool merely seemed to take the pitch and win games before a ball was even kicked. Anfield with the ‘Never Walk Alone’ atmosphere, Gerry Marsden emotion, roar of the Kop and the home of players like Dalglish, Hansen and Rush, who seemed to score goals every other second.

The kids at school said no to Fisons shirts and opted for Candy. The first game that I can remember was not a Town match but Liverpool in the 1986 FA Cup Final on the family black and white Pye TV, I could not understand why Motty was shouting “RUSH!!!” every other second as another shot was seemingly palmed away by Neville Southall.

I can tell you that Sunday 10th December 2000 was perfectly misty and dank pre-Christmas Sunday. I was travelling with an Everton mate of mine to provide a bit more edge to the trip. Travelling through Caravan Colditz of Rhyl, Abergele and Prestatyn, I can still remember the foreboding Shotton steelworks with its Chernobyl-styled grey towers.

The train ride took forever making me even more hysterical. We were stopping at the mate’s family home at Hooton on the Wirral. I tried to hold appropriate conversation as if I had just returned from Sunday school but what I wanted to do was finish the food as quickly as possible and head into Liverpool.

I can remember that we were running late. We arrived at Sandbanks at station and ran through empty dank streets full of boarded up houses to Anfield. It seemed that night had started at three.

The match had already begun which seemed to be a disaster to me! I can remember the big bright spotlights on top of the stands and what seemed to be a dark noise hole behind Sander Westerveld in the far goal. I can remember Robbie Fowler running at the Town defence, but I also feeling surprised that Liverpool had not scored by half-time.

The Town goal from Marcus Stewart took me by surprise. It was a surprise for other Town fans. It was only when the players celebrated that we began to jump around the stands. The game descended back into a blur, I can remember Fowler et al running at the Town defence but Liverpool just did not score.

The home fans were getting angry. Although Liverpool did win the FA Cup and UEFA Cup that season, the club faithful were going through one of many difficult periods between themselves and Gerard Houllier.

We ran into the city at the final whistle. I was talking as if I had swallowed helium. I can remember Liverpool fans congratulating me for Town winning that afternoon, something that I felt embarrassed to claim credit for.

Train services in the North West of England were very limp and unpredictable on Sunday nights (or seemingly every night) in the early 2000s. My friend guided me back to the train. I would have not cared to walk back to Bangor. I can remember that our trains did not connect at Chester station and we ended up on a train from another age to take us back along the coast back home.

I can also remember jumping on a poor young student. He had been hoping for a quiet Sunday evening snooze back towards Holyhead and Llandudno. He actually had a crazed tall bloke babbling about a team and game that he did not understand. I think that I slept that night.

I understand that all of us have our favourite moments of Town in the Premiership. I know that I had been privileged to be at Anfield that Sunday afternoon. I wish that I could have bottled up that game and atmosphere, because I could have flogged it for millions in Suffolk.

This was my first experience of seeing Town playing a member of world football’s aristocracy. I had not expected Town to win that day. When they did, I felt like the conqueror of Merseyside. It was a truly awesome experience. It was my moment, and something to bat back to all those fans who would wax lyrical about the FA Cup Final of 1978 or UEFA Cup Final of 1981.

The material still works today for all those people who still tell me that Town were a good team ‘once.’




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SouperJim added 14:27 - Dec 9
A great read, thanks. I can still recall the feeling of euphoria as I walked out of Portman Road after we had beaten Inter Milan 1-0 in 2001. Smashing stuff.
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TractorCam added 17:48 - Dec 9
Great read, sadly i was only 4 in that magnificent season, I started going to football just as we re-entered the 2nd division, still here 13 years later :)
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MVBlue added 10:26 - Dec 10
Mighty times. My liverpool friend put on a brave face but he couldn't believe it. Marcus Stewart was outstanding that season. Bottle it up and wait, just keep waiting....we all wait....
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patrickswell added 20:51 - Dec 10
Nice remembrance of heady days, when the team and ethos that George Burley built flowered into a spectacular success. It's worth remembering that Town's away form was so good that season that it almost didn't seem a surprise to win at Anfield that day. If nothing else, it proved that we were going to have a major say in things that season.
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dusth added 20:54 - Dec 11
Great atmospheric post TimS. I am quite a bit older but was in Paris and remember trying to get a paper the following morning and couldn't believe it! Never won at Anfield before! Three weeks later I saw us spank Spurs 3-0 at PR. Could have been ten. it's on You Tube. Also a side that didn't cost a bomb. Next year it went wrong. We bought dross for too much and pissed off the ones who fought heart and soul to get 5th in the Prem.
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Pip50 added 20:54 - Dec 11
Heady days don't make me laugh. Burley was simply a blip in the downward spiral of our club. Administration followed Marcus and the mix of financial spinning and the rooting of our chamionship status have followed.
Cobbold Robson 70's to mid 80's were the times. Gone forever never to return at least I was there.
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Vancouver_Blue added 22:27 - Dec 11
Great read, similar to my first trip to Anfiled circa 77 or 78, all I know is that we lost
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MVBlue added 13:01 - Dec 15
Pip who?
We are a significant part of English football, still breeding good players who can go great things McCauley, Cresswell, Murphy, Jon Walters, Mings, Conor Wickham. Let alone those others from the Burley era who went on to establish themselves elsewhere when the wheels came off, Herriardsson, Wright, Ambrose, Holland, Stewart, Dyer, Gardsoe. We increased capacity and have a Prmiership grade ground and training facilities. The peak was the Robson years but folk have even written here how it was known it wouldn't continue. We are now a steady ship not a downward ship. Compare us with Wigan and Bolton and re-assess your statement.
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JCBLUE added 22:36 - Dec 15
Invited to this game to enjoy LFC corporate hospitality and a stunning 1-0 win. I remember the Robson era well, but we almost always lost at Liverpool, so sweet revenge! Enjoyed a fabulous meal at the dockside afterwards, and who should turn up .... one Robbie Fowler! My perfect day was complete .........!!
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algarvefan added 14:01 - Dec 23
I remember singing,we're all going on European tour as we left the ground and laughing to myself, never realising we would almost make the Champions League for goodness sake. It was a great season, I was also there for the Robson era too, also a brilliant time, but football was a different game then.
Still love watching Town and always will......it's what being a true fan is all about.
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