|Reflections on Relegation|
Written by TimS on Wednesday, 17th Apr 2019 20:50
I was walking through Kesgrave last Saturday afternoon around 4.35pm with my mind wandering. I could distinctly remember making the same walk from a local Tesco through Grange Farm back in the spring of 2002.
We were talking about roughly the same stuff in 2002 as in 2019 such as Town ‘not being good enough,’ bad buys in the transfer market, and the failures of the chairman. It was also sunny that spring too. Funny how history repeats itself.
We fast forward 17 years (17 years!!) and in 2019 I had come by Suffolk for an Easter Holiday to see family and I had considered going to Portman Road for the game. But I just could not quite bring myself to go and I regret that but why would I want to see my club relegated.
In a similar fashion to my relationship with sport from school to adulthood during the last 39 years, I wanted to avoid conflict and the sadness of Town dropping into the third tier of English football.
The whole relegation ‘thing’ should not have come as a surprise even if it took place after last Saturday. But it was still difficult to take as the end of the season drew closer and was surely difficult to take for anyone with even a slight passing interest in the club.
“These sorts of moments make you stronger” they say but sometimes you don’t want to be stronger. Would you want to share your memories of relegation with your friends and family in 17 years time? Being in Suffolk this week has made the sadness a bit more vivid then if I had stayed in London.
I spent Sunday and Monday being angry but I decided to head to the ‘church’ at Portman Road on the Tuesday. I had not been down for a while. It was a pleasantly warm spring day and rather than just moan about everything I just wanted to do something.
I walk down Portman Road with my father - doyen of the 1960 and 1970s Town: the Town that is often talked about as a conversation opener to me but an age which I can’t remember.
We took some pictures by the Sir Bobby Robson statue as if I had never seen the statue before. I am not sure why those photos were taken but it was just right to do so. It was not hard to start complaining within seconds of being close to the ground.
For instance, the Cobbold Stand is in a dilapidated state with blistered paint on the gates and peeling windows. I walked into the shop looking to buy some kit because I thought that 25 quid would help buy a new player but started to internally rage about the tacky Magical Vegas stick-on badge. But whilst deciding whether to buy a reduced branded chocolate and orange bar, I began to realise I needed to move on from easy moans and complaints.
The events of last Saturday has changed things for me now. I cannot lie and start suggesting that I now feel pleased about everything Marcus Evans. Some of the PR from the club so misses the mark like Town’s goal coring this season, and some of the spokesmen seem to me to lack any sense of sincerity.
I ca not feel any more of Luke Chambers’s ‘pain’ or sympathise with Cole Skuse’s frustration but we are now in League One and I like to think that the club is starting to move to a different place with the fans compared to how things were even a year ago.
The letter R will stay next to our name until 5th May and League One will start in August whether I like it or not. For me, I approach next season with humility and respect with the slight suspicion that it will be harder than some people expect. Reading some of the comments on the message board, I am pretty sure I am not the only one being more tentative about next season’s campaign.
I fully support a lot of the constructive comment on our message boards about stuff on and off the pitch whether the suggestion for EACH to replace the Magical Vegas shirts, better community engagement, the season ticket announcement, targeted signings in key positions, but this is the first time in my lifetime when it has hit me that money is tighter than ever at Portman Road.
Our long list of wishes may not take place until summer 2020 at the very earliest and that would only be the case if we get promoted. It is one of those times when I have to dig in, head off to the League One grounds around London and South East England (and there are surprisingly few of them) and understand that I need to be constructive.
I have not joined the happy-clappy brigade but I have got to understand that continuing to moan and whinge will not help anything The town of Ipswich needs Ipswich Town Football Club just as the club now needs the town of Ipswich and the supporters of our club whether they live in Suffolk or beyond.
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