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Fanstastic
Written by LegendRay on Wednesday, 22nd May 2019 18:00

There was quite a groundswell of opinion that no annual awards should have been given after a season like that. Except perhaps for one award that doesn’t have a category… the award for the supporters!

Has there ever been a relegated team applauded so loudly? The ovation at the end of the Birmingham match showed the heart and soul of Portman Road.

Paul Lambert stood genuinely amazed at the positive support, home and away, for his struggling team.

Is it proof that Town fans really do appreciate style of play, commitment and pride in wearing the shirt more than results themselves?

And now, in the spirit of the age, we are prepared to share those feelings!

It was not always so. In the sixties and seventies, I remember Portman Road being quoted as the ground you can take your granny to; no excessive noise and excitement on the terraces to disturb her!

The spectators were a knowledgeable crowd who watched and observed in a rather laconic way. There was sometimes more noise greeting a Norwich loss on the half-time scores than there was for a Town goal. I recall the great Sir Bobby Robson wondering ‘What does it take to get this crowd excited?’.

Various methods were tried to rev up the crowd. In our first European Cup campaign we played AC Milan at home on 28th November 1962.

I was the one extra in the 25,001 attendance, but then I guess 25,000 others were too! A recording was played over the tinny Tannoy of the roar that greeted our winning the top tier Division One against Aston Villa half a year previously.

"This is what you can sound like,", the announcer said. "Let’s hear it for the team tonight."

In fact the crowd roared the Town to at 2-1 victory which unfortunately meant we lost on aggregate.

This was also the match Ray Crawford almost missed as, with his car broken down, he had to hitch a lift along the Norwich Road to get to kick-off in time, much to Sir Alf’s displeasure. The full story is in Ray’s book Curse of the Jungle Boy on page 120.

On most match days, the crowd would be encouraged by Swede, the blue and white mascot with his blue and white hat, often accompanied by a young lady dressed as a witch for Ipswich ‘Witches’ (think I even prefer Tractor Boys to that!).

You’d often encounter the ruddy smiling face of Swede, real name Mr Herring, as he worked on the buses as a conductor. His pre-match routine would probably now be banned on numerous specious grounds, including his chant of "I…P (do you missus?) S..etc".

In my early days at Portman Road, Churchmans was the end to attack as that’s where most noise came from; in the sixties the West Stand was louder even than the North.

But you were able to get the best of all worlds if the toss went the right way. If Town were attacking your end in the first half you could walk alongside the touchline at half-time and climb into the stand at the other end.

Entry of the Gladiators by the Czech composer Julius Fucik, used to boom from the loudspeakers as the Town took the field running past the iron fencing from the old cricket pavilion, which must have confused many a visiting team.

If/when the crowd were stirred up enough to sing it would be Keep Right on to the End of the Road, an ancient anthem by Harry Lauder, which accompanied our rise from the Third Division to the second tier, into the first and on to the championship in 1962.

Birmingham claimed we sneaked it off them as they had it for 1956 FA Cup final and still do today.

Talking of songs and chants, from the mighty sound of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand these days we have global and local: "We’re the finest football team the world has ever seen" or "Who’s the pride of Anglia" and the legendary "Because of boxing day".

Not that it matters, but I wonder which is truest and which we feel more at home with?

Amazingly, there was a time in the early eighties when a lot of the world might have agreed with the first one, and many decades when a lot of the UK (except Norfolk) would have agreed with the second (and will again one day, say we all!).

But which do we feel more at home with? Do we really belong on the international stage as we were in the 1980s?

That team of the early eighties was unbelievably brilliant and I’m so proud to have seen such a team gracing Portman Road (though putting a young family first meant I wasn’t there so often).

But somehow it felt like watching a team that was too good for just Ipswich. The club was followed by the whole country, competing not just nationally but on the European stage, on the telly every week instead of twice a year, everybody’s property. Expectations of great football were so high.

The triumphs of 1962 and 1978 were different, gloriously unexpected and somehow more local. We weren’t expected to compete on a national basis and the media didn’t know us.

I remember the backpage spread after the Villa match in 1962 that celebrated our invincible centre half ‘Andy WILSON’; and the Sunday paper in 1978 that ran a photo of the toothless Roger Osborne headed ‘EEE, by gum’ – their lazy sub-editor had him coming from Otley, West Yorkshire rather than Otley, East Suffolk!

In those days, Town were the unknown underdogs, and the team was closer to the town itself, it belonged to us.

So where are we today as we enter the third tier again? Is part of that reaction post-Birmingham due to reclaiming the bond between fans and club after those distant years of success and the more recent estrangement between terraces and managers?

Perhaps we want to relate to the players, not an international squad, and to love the style of football and enjoy the match, whatever the result?

So it might not be all bad getting back to basics in League One, as we must now call it. Feeling part of the club, the club being part of the town, and building a heart again that can take us who knows where and when.




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algarvefan added 23:46 - May 22
For those of us old enough to remember all of that, an excellent blog post and maybe, just maybe, this season will be the making of us............let's hope so!
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ElephantintheRoom added 08:27 - May 23
With all due respect the teams of the late 70s and early 80s were anything but underdogs - if anything they were serial underachievers. Every year was tipped by national pundits to be 'their' year - and alas it never was apart from the cup win which came about largely through a very streaky draw, if truth be told. Lots of songs of that era stick in my mind... 'we hate Nottingham Forest...' 'Oh I once asked Mr Bill Shankley....' and the oft conveniently forgotten Aye, Aye, Are Ay!! Ipswich Republican Army!' No mention of flat caps, rosettes and rattles either - nor school age Blue Arrow girls being sexually harassed at high volume on a weekly basis (presumably witnessed by their parents). But yes, those of a certain age grew up with a club to be proud of - and therein lies the difference. It's now a club for spivs and whilst the local bonhommie may be temporarily? on the up, I suspect Town are now one of the least liked teams in the league where they were once one of the most admired.
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armchaircritic59 added 17:49 - May 24
ElephantintheRoom, i see where you are coming from with your opening sentence. As one of the "fortunates" who watched that era, i think our main problem was, not having enough "classy" backup for injuries to key players, largely due to insufficient funds. Had we have been able to do that, i have absolutely no doubt we would have won "Div 1" at least once and probably more.

You are obviously no fan of the present set up. I am wondering, in your opinion, in which direction the club should be heading and by what method(s)? Hopefully a topic for a respectable debate!
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rdibble added 06:23 - May 26
He’s 28 and untried at championship level I since a reoccurring theme here😪
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ElephantintheRoom added 16:46 - May 26
armchaircritic - i tend to agree - my one regret, if that is the right word from watching through the Robson era was that the club made no attempt to sign Peter Shilton - who went to Stoke and then Forest at a time when he would have transformed Town from nearly men to something very special. The fee would have been a problem as Robson's signings were always funded by outgoing players. Sivell was a glaring weakness that Robson never seemed anxious to address and Cooper was good - but nowhere near the best player in the team that Shllton would have been. The half-hearted attempt to sign Jennings was too little, too late. I'm not sure what the answer is to the current conundrum because the owner is clearly not here in a football club capacity - and is so utterly at odds with what the club used to stand for. Alas it is now his club to do with as he sees fit. For as long as Town have been part of 'The Marcus Evans Empire' I have been of the opinion that it is a waiting game for Evans to go belly-up on the assumption nobody knows what he is worth and it is probably a lot less than the blithe assumptions - then start again like Luton and Portsmouth. ('Sir' Alan Stanford had a habit of turning up to games in a hired helicopter and oozing the illusion of wealth for example - and the inept way Evans has run Town suggests his shadowy empire must be just as ineptly run. Wishful thinking probably. Other than that I just hope Town actually promote from within on the pitch and O'Neill has it in him to stand up for the academy and the football club. I'm sure they are trying to unseat as many of the contracted players as possibel, but as we already know from a previous disastrous relegation that is easier said than done. But I'd be more than happy if Town made no signings at all this summer based on Lambert's record to date. Assuming Town are in deep financial trouble (which they must be) I'suspect its a long haul to stabilise in division three and start to look up rather than down - unless the owner runs the club differently - and see no indication or reason for him to change.
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armchaircritic59 added 23:31 - May 29
Yes, ElephantintheRoom, as commited and brave as Laurie Sivell was, he wasn't the answer to any goalkeeping problem and couldn't be compared to the two keepers you mention above!

I have to say, give me a choice between the "Evans empire" and the "Cobbold empire, it's a no contest. I thought Sheepshanks was good for most of the time except later in his stewardship. Though i have to say, i believe he was "captain of the ship" when the decision was made to build the Pioneer stand, which in my opinion was the very first seed to be sown leading to our current predicament. It's been a slow germination but we've arrived!

I do like what i've read and heard about O'neill. He certainly has a much greater grasp of the footballing side of things than his two predecessors, which admitedly wouldn't be difficult! I agree, he needs to keep fighting the academy corner, as that's the one part of the club that has functioned well through the turmoil. For me, that's mostly down to Bryan Klug and his terrific work down the years, along with his team of course.

I think i'm a little bit more optimistic than you regarding League One, though i know it's not going to be a cakewalk (ask Sunderland!). A good part of my hope is the prospect ( if staying injury free!) of a midfield containing the likes of Bishop, Huws, Dozell and Downs, with the likes of El Mizouni pushing them hard. I believe that would be a midfield in a different class to anything else in the league. Of course, we then need to get the problems at both ends of the pitch addressed! Jack Lankaster might have something to say about that, and if actually signing, Norwood too. Freddie Sears should also thrive in this division, (when recovered of course). That just leaves the defence, and i must admit i'm unsure about that one, though at least the keeper will stand out!

I think we'll need to hit the ground running and gain confidence otherwise it mght be a tough nine months.

PL has been doing his stuff of the pitch. It'll soon be the time when he has to do it on the pitch too!

I'm going to be bold and predict a play off place, though i'm certainly taking nothing for granted.

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ElephantintheRoom added 13:04 - Jun 1
armchaircritic I admire your optimism - and if truth be told, IF Lambert embraces the young players he has and injuries allow players to develop then yes, all could be relatively rosy. I'm hoping he will not be allowed to make any signings untilor even if contracted players are removed - which could be enormously beneifial in a poor man's Spurs sort of way. My mind keeps going back to January - and Lambert's disastrous short term signings. I'd even include Judge in that mix as he is surely in the way of a fit Dozzel and Bishop (if such a thing exists) - and ended last season marooned out wide anyway.. I honestly have no diea how Town will do.... anytthing between 3 and 16 will be 'in touch with the play offs' so you may well get your wish. I'll be happy with a season of consolidation!
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