Ipswich Town 0 Queens Park Rangers 2

I haven’t seen Ipswich Town play since the 1-1 draw with Norwich City in early September. Three weeks house-sitting in Paris and watching the other-worldly football of Paris Saint Germain (see previous posts) and I am pining for the prosaic drudgery of Championship football with its ceaseless reliance on running about and winning free-kicks to play set–pieces because no one has the vision or skill to have confidence enough to score goals through open play. It’s probably why managers, including our own Paul Hurst sadly, play ‘one-up front’. Why waste a player trying to score in open play when you can have extra insurance against unexpectedly conceding a goal. Well, that’s what it looks like to me.
But Ipswich Town have been my team since 1971 and I have missed them these last few

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weeks. With gladness in my heart therefore, I set off for the train to Ipswich. My joy is doubled today because I am sharing the experience with my wife Paulene, courtesy of the generosity of Ipswich Town who have allowed me as a season ticket holder to buy four additional tickets for just ten pounds each, although if truth be told that’s only a fair price, not a cheap one.
We board the train through the first set of sliding doors and after Colchester share the carriage with just one other fellow traveller. It’s a pleasant journey as the lowering autumn sun streaks through the trees on the embankments to lay dappled, diffused sunlight on the carriage window.

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Unusually it’s a twelve carriage train and our arrival in Ipswich feels like we are halfway to Needham with a lengthy walk down Platform 3. There are police on the platform, two dodgy looking blokes with stubble and tattoos, not very Dixon of Dock Green at all, even though we think they are with the Met’ because today Town are playing a London team, Queen’s Park Rangers.

Outside the station the Queens Park Rangers supporters are enjoying the beer garden of the Station Hotel, which no doubt equally enjoys their custom. Behind the pub the River Orwell is glassy and still, a beautiful mirror to reflect the ugly metal sheds and wasteland that squat on its northern bank waiting to be re-devloped. Further on in the car park of what was once Churchman’s factory a lady sells coffee from the back of a van.

Paulene has an espresso (£1.80). Like Paulene the lady visits Portman Road once a year with her husband, just to humour him. In Portman Road, it’s gone half past one, but the turnstiles are not open yet and weirdly keen people are standing, waiting for them to do so. People with buckets collect money for the RNLI whilst others look at the statue of Bobby Robson, which has been adorned with scarves and flowers in response to the recent death of the man generally considered to be Town’s best ever player, Kevin Beattie. The scarves around Sir Bobby’s legs make it look as though if he tried to take a step forward, he might fall over.


We head for St Jude’s Tavern as is my tradition; I have a pint of the Match Day Special (£2.50), which today is Black Hole Bitter from the Black Hole Brewery in Burton-On-Trent; Paulene has a glass of Rose (£2.50). I speak with the man at the table next to us about the recent games I have missed and share news of the team with him and the other blokes at his table when it appears on my mobile phone; there is general consternation that there will again be a right-back (Janoi Donacien) at left back and just one player ‘up front’ (Freddie Sears). The mood is not one of joy, but we should be able to do okay against Queens Park Rangers, shouldn’t we? They have fourteen points, we have just nine but we’ve scored more goals and conceded fewer.
I have another pint of Black Hole Bitter before we head back down Portman Road. At the junction with Sir Alf Ramsey Way I buy a copy of Turnstile Blue fanzine from a young boy who takes my money but needs a parent to prompt him to hand over the fanzine in exchange, kids today eh? We pass through the turnstiles and take up our seats to a soundtrack from the PA system of Queen‘s “Don’t stop me now”. Indeed, I am having such a good time. Ever-present Phil who never misses a game is already here with his young son Elwood; Paulene is very pleased to see them, I think it’s why she agreed to come today. Pat from Clacton is absent today however. Next to me sits a young man with learning difficulties, he says hello and I introduce myself; we shake hands, his name is Matthew and he thinks Town will win 1-0.

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The teams line up to some mournful music (I think it’s from a film) before hurrying off into huddles and the music gets more upbeat thanks to Neil Diamond and then the game begins; QPR get first go with the ball and are aiming in the direction of Matthew, me, Paulene, Elwood and Phil. Ipswich wear their blue shirts with white sleeves, blue socks and white shorts; it could be a smart kit but sadly the red adidas stripes and trim and hideous ‘Magical Vegas’ logo make the ensemble look a terrible mess. QPR wear vigorously pink shirts and socks with black shorts, very metrosexual. The scene is a Fauvist riot of colour beneath a clear pale blue sky. As the game starts Matthew is quick to encourage, “Come on Ipswich, Come on!” he shouts.


The first foul, within two minutes of the kick-off, is on Town’s Gwion Edwards by QPR’s Jake Bidwell and the first few minutes are messy and inconclusive as the players seem to try and work out what to do with this strange plastic-coated spherical object at their feet. The QPR supporters (we will later be informed that there are 1,338 of them) are in good  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAvoice, fuelled by liquids from the Station Hotel no doubt. They sing something about being the pride of somewhere, possibly west London; but either their diction isn’t very good or my hearing is letting me down. But I manage to make sense of “ Come on you R’s!” . “ Come On Ipswich” shouts Matthew.
Seven minutes pass and QPR win the game’s first corner; there is a scrum of players on the goal line. This isn’t football, it’s like children jostling one another to be first onto the school bus, but referee Mr Geoff Eltringham doesn’t seem too bothered about it. His laissez-faire attitude seems to say “It’s your own game you’re ruining”. QPR win another corner, which Israeli Tomer Hemed heads over the bar from close to the goal. “Come On Ipswich” shouts Matthew.
Ipswich aren’t doing much, but QPR win another corner as Luke Chambers heads the ball back limply and forces Dean Gerken to save a shot from Pawel Wszolek. From the corner the ball arcs into the top far corner of the goal off the flailing glove of Dean

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Gerken and Ipswich are losing. “Come On Ipswich!” shouts Matthew, this time with a hint of frustration. In the Cobbold Stand and North or Sir Bobby Robson Stand spectators shield their eyes from the lowering sun, or it could be from what they are seeing on the pitch.
Shamelessly stealing the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B, the celebrating QPR fans now sing “We’re winning away, We’re winning away, How shit must you be? We’re winning away.” They have a point. Ipswich supporters offer little in return by way of encouragement for their team, although there is some occasional half-hearted banging of a drum in the North Stand and the odd brief chant drifts off up into the afternoon sky.

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Providing an accurate musical commentary for the afternoon, the QPR fans sing “No noise from the Tractor Boys” to the tune of the Village People’s Go West. “Come On Ipswich” shouts Matthew.
Ipswich are displaying a worrying lack of both skill and tactics and it takes until gone three-thirty for Gwion Edwards to provide the first action of any interest as he makes a darting run forward and crosses the ball. This is the start of what in the context of what they have done so far is a good spell for Town. Trevoh Chalobah makes a run down the right and crosses to Grant Ward who is unmarked inside the penalty area. With consummate ease Ward slices the ball wide of the goal as he languidly strikes it ‘first time’. People groan. A couple of minutes later Gwion Edwards draws warm applause from a crowd clearly still harbouring optimism deep down as he has a cross blocked just a fraction of a second after the ball leaves his boot. “Come On Town!” shouts Matthew, still optimistic too.
Half time is near and QPR win what is their sixth or seventh corner of the half and then win another. The ensuing mess in the penalty area sees QPR’s Eberechi Eze stretch for the ball but not control it, but then the straining leg of Aristote N’Siala makes contact with him and although the contact was unintentional and had no bearing on what Eze did or would do next, it’s a penalty. Geoff Eltringham seems to point almost apologetically to the penalty spot. As the penalty is taken Dean Gerken moves to his right and then stops to look back over his shoulder and see where Tomer Hemed has actually kicked the ball.

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It’s 2-0 to QPR and it’s time for a welcome break.

To keep my strength and spirits up for what will no doubt be a testing second half I eat a Panda brand stick of liquorice before visiting the toilet facilities and speaking with Ray, who like Paulene is wearing a parka today, because although it’s bright there is a nip in the air and we are sat in the shade. Paulene is pleased to meet Ray, because she’s heard a lot about him. I look about to see what I can see and notice a tambourine in the window

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of the crowd control box above the players’ tunnel. I can only surmise that it was confiscated from someone trying to support the team; as I know to my cost (see Ipswich Town v Wigan Athletic post) such plans can only end badly, but I brought it on myself I was told. Above me on the stand roof I am amazed to see that the buddleia which I had admired for so long during so many dull moments has gone! I am slightly saddened by what seems like the passing of an old friend. But this is the strongest indication yet that the “New Era” under Paul Hurst is for real.
Town begin the second half and quickly hoof the ball into touch, losing possession. When Town do win the ball back it’s not for long and the old girl behind me vents her frustration “They can’t even kick it to one of their own” she says dismissively. QPR add to their corner count and then claim the afternoon’s first booking after Joel Lynch poleaxes Freddie Sears, who is Elwood’s favourite player. Whilst foul play is a ‘bad thing’, usually a team chasing a game like Ipswich are, would collect a couple of bookings, just through over-enthusiasm. Today however, Town seem not only too sluggish to win a tackle, but too sluggish to even make a late tackle, the unfortunate exception being N’Siala’s in the penalty area. Town are playing so poorly it feels like they’ve achieved something when the QPR goalkeeper is the player with the ball; his name incidentally is Joe Lumley which makes Paulene and me think of Patsy Stone and Purdey and Matthew shouts “Come On Town”

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An hour of the game has gone and a Chalobah cross leaves Edwards with a free header which he directs straight at Lumley, but it’s probably Town’s first effort on target. The shadows are lengthening inexorably and most of the pitch is now in shade, the drop in temperature brings the damp out of the heavily watered pitch and the smell of the turf greets my nostrils arguing the case against 3G pitches. Almost as inevitably as the creeping shade, QPR win more corners and Matthew shouts “Come on Town”.
Town make a couple of unpopular substitutions and it feels like Mick McCarthy never left; Gwion Edwards and Grant Ward, the two ‘wingers’ are replaced by two forwards, Kayden Jackson and Jack Lankester who is in the Under 18s team. The crowd are losing patience. “That black bloke is crap” Matthew tells me. “What Toto?” I ask unnecessarily, because all afternoon Toto has been noticeably poor at passing the ball and giving away penalties, well, a penalty, but one is too many. The new blood helps a little for a minute or two and Town briefly show some more urgency and win some free-kicks in what would be threatening positions if Neymar was in the team. But Town waste them, failing to even get a shot in on goal. Matthew and his carer leave before the final whistle.
Pretty much any Town player you can name will have justifiably had his detractors this afternoon. “Look at the state of him!” says the old girl behind me with conviction. “That flippin’ Chalobah is completely useless”. Nevertheless, a cross he makes, which goes behind the goal, draws applause; odd. Shamefully, there are even a couple of thankfully shy sounding choruses of “What a load of rubbish” from the North Stand. As QPR seemingly achieve a new world record number of corners I shout “McCarthy Out!”, but I don’t think anyone gets the joke.
The final whistle is a relief for everyone, but a good number of people cannot resist booing. The capacity of Ipswich supporters to stay silent through the ninety minutes of a match, never uttering a word of encouragement, only to find the breath to boo at the end never, ever ceases to disappoint. Fortunately, I was sat next to Matthew who showed himself to be a true supporter, even if he did think Toto N’Siala was crap and leaving before the end wasn’t his decision. But, as a man called Tim said to me as we left the stand “That wasn’t good enough”. At first I thought that was something of an understatement, but on reflection it’s all that needs to be said. We haven’t been relegated yet and there is time still to improve, even if there have been few if any signs of recovery today. But in true football-manager fashion I travel home ‘taking away the positives’ from today’s game. These were that I enjoyed two pints of fine beer and good conversation, it was a beautiful autumn day, I met Matthew and I shared the whole experience with my wife….except the beer that is, because she has a grain intolerance.

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Ipswich Town 1 Birmingham City 0

I didn’t think I would be, but I am a bit excited at the prospect of Ipswich Town’s first game of the season. It’s the 47th first day of the season since I started watching Town in 1971, so I should be getting over it by now, but it seems I’m not; despite the misery of last season, despite the fact that I despise the players because they are ridiculously over-paid and choose to spend that money on ostentatious Range Rovers, tattoos and dodgy haircuts; despite the fact that Ipswich Town is a miserable club which has forbidden me to even bang a tambourine in support of the team; despite the fact that the atmosphere in Portman Road is funereal most of the time and despite the fact that my season ticket costs over £400. What the heck’s the matter with me?
So, it is in a confused state of mind that I board the 12:57 train for Ipswich. But that’s the human condition. Across the carriage a tanned man with piercing blue eyes, dressed from head to toe in hi-vis clothing shouts into his mobile phone “Hello….. hello?….can you hear me?” Pause. “I’m now on it now”. I and I imagine everyone else in the carriage assumes he means he is on the train, rather than on a rocking horse or night boat to Cairo; he doesn’t sound like he’s lying, but you never know. Directly opposite me sits a younger man with a beard, he’s wearing a back to front baseball hat, sunglasses, deck shoes and shorts which show off his pale, hairless, skinny legs. He is listening to his phone through earphones. I wouldn’t want to sit on a train looking like that, so I don’t; I am a free man.
It was a sunny day when I left home, but a tumble of dark clouds are rolling across the sky and now, emerging from the railway tunnel into Ipswich station the sky is battleship grey and about to open fire. I hurry towards the St Jude’s pub with my umbrella at the ready, not pausing to admire the banners 36251874941_0cceb0f419_z(1)on the lamp posts proclaiming the partnership of Ipswich Borough Council and Ipswich Town Football Club, which make a grand addition to the streetscape. What better way to promote the town than through pride in its football club. I walk up Portman Road which the police appear to have blockaded at one end with a big white truck, probably because they can.
In the pub, the usual crowd of pre-match drinkers is there and I drink a pint of Springhead Brewery’s ‘A touch o’ the black stuff’ (£3.40) and a pint of ‘Old Growler’ (£3.60). I meet a couple there who aren’t going to the game however; he has better things to do and she loathes football, which two reasons are probably why most people don’t go. We discuss plum trees, retirement and living in France. By the time we are finished drinking and talking it is now raining heavily so on the walk back to the ground, despite employing my umbrella, I get wet trousers. It crosses my mind that this grim, grey, soggy and oppressive afternoon might be a portent of the season to come for Ipswich Town. One has such irrational thoughts on the opening day of the season.
Inside the ground with a drained bladder I take my seat and the game begins.

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Welcome to Portman Road

There are some 2,000 Birmingham City supporters here today which is appropriate because it is Birmingham City who are the visiting team.

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Birmingham City supporters queueing in the rain

Inevitably it is they who are providing that ‘atmosphere’ supposedly redolent of British football grounds. They sing that they have Harry Redknapp, which doesn’t seem like much to be proud of given that he managed Portsmouth to virtual extinction and both Southampton and Bournemouth went bust after he left. At Portsmouth it is reported he received 10% of transfer fees and when this dropped to 5%, money amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds was deposited in a bank account in Monaco in the name of his pet dog. Redknapp was found not guilty of tax evasion. Tellingly perhaps, Redknapp is quoted in the programme as saying that if he gets the tools he will do a good job; 36362850986_8ce19de5ba_oby tools it seems likely he means cash for transfers. He doesn’t sound like he’d want to manage Ipswich and I’m not sorry. Having celebrated their team’s manager, to the tune of ‘Roll out the barrel’ the Brummies regale us with a heartfelt rendition of another of their own compositions, ‘Shit on The Villa’; which unfortunately for me conjures a picture in my mind of blokes squatting beneath the street lamps of the Aston Expressway with their trousers round their ankles, Andrex at the ready.
Five minutes into the match and the rain stops, the clouds clear and the sun is now shining, the pitch glows an unnatural, almost luminous green. Some football breaks out. Town have a shot on goal and the locals applaud. “We forgot, We forgot, We forgot the you were here” chants the Brummies’ male voice choir, which suggests a worrying level of short term memory loss, although that might be explained by excessive pre-match alcohol intake in the Station Hotel where notices in the windows announce “Away Fans Only”.
A bit before 3.30 pm there is a break in play as a recumbent Jordan Spence receives succour from the physio. It’s time for drinks all round on the pitch whilst the ever vocal visitors from Birmingham break into a turgid rendition of “Keep right on to the end of the road” showing their continued love for music hall in this worrying age of drum n bass and Ed Sheeran. Happily Mr Spence recovers, although he continues to wear a pair of sickly green boots. The programme today contains an article about Town’s Jordan Spence entitled “Spence Force”;36239583092_af8c66994a_o a title which being a play on the phrase “Spent Force” doesn’t seem at all complimentary, as if saying his best days are gone. Someone really needs to tell programme editors that just because something is a pun or play on words doesn’t necessarily make it appropriate as a headline. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to future articles about Luke Chambers, Grant Ward, Cole Skuse and Teddy Bishop entitled “Torture Chambers”, “Ward of Court”, “Poor ex-Skuse” and “Bash the Bishop”.
It’s been a fairly dull first half and the silhouetted girders of the Cobbold stand roof are as beautiful as any football we’ve seen. Ipswich are playing neatly enough but not looking like scoring, despite a corner count of four to nil, and it almost seems sarcastic when a chant of ”Ipswich, Ipswich” emanates from the lower tier of the North Stand. But to their credit the home crowd is showing patience and understanding as they applaud an over-hit pass that Freddie Sears quickly sees he should give up on as soon as he starts to give chase. There is more applause as Grant Ward finishes an embryonic one-two pass and move with Dominic Iorfa by sending the ball into touch. Is this applause support or sympathy? That opening day optimism is a powerful emotion that won’t be put down.
There’s only five minutes to half time and following a corner Town’s England U19 starlet Andre Dozzell slips to the ground as he turns away from the goal. It is immediately apparent he has hurt himself and the Birmingham goalkeeper David Stockdale admirably goes over to ’the boy’ Dozzell to reassure him and calls the referee to stop the game and let the physio on. Quickly the first aid crew attend and Town’s electric buggy 35552867574_33d01a5310_oglides across the turf bearing a stretcher; “What the fucking hell is that” sing those musical Brummies denying any apparent knowledge of the existence of golf carts or milk floats. Feigning ignorance of such things can only serve to reinforce the impression that the West Midlands accent creates for the rest of the population of the UK that Brummies are thick bastards, whether they are or not.
The first aid team give Dozzell oxygen to alleviate shock and pain and he has to be taken from the pitch on the electric cart, but to generous applause from all around the ground, suggesting that not all the Brummies are as thick as they are pretending to be. Half-time arrives and I seek respite under the stand with the latest scores and a Traidcraft chewy cereal bar that I brought with me because Ipswich Town haven’t yet shown any inclination to provide ethically sourced snacks and refreshments. I meet a former work colleague under that stand whose wife is queuing on his behalf for coffee, she’s not a football fan and I get the impression she is here under duress, so she probably hopes she’ll miss that start of the second half.
I have a quick look through the programme hoping for something bold and original for the new season, but the layout and design is boring and offers nothing more than a sort of menu across the top of the page to make it look like it’s on a website. But it’s not on a website, it’s a paper publication. There are thick glossy pages and lots of them, but like at every other professional club it’s full of the usual platitudinous pap; there’s not even a victory for style over content this season it seems.
The second half begins and Ipswich look more positive than they did in the first half and so it proves and with just five minutes gone a low cross from Jonas Knudsen is passed into the Birmingham goal by debutant Joe Garner. Oh how I cheered and clapped and acted like a consummate fool! That misunderstood feeling of excitement, that optimism has been rewarded.
From now on Ipswich are the better team and do not look like they are going to lose. Birmingham win a few corners near the end but they have little composure or control. In the second half I take more interest in the football than I did in the first and don’t look around the ground so much, although there is a small disturbance off to my right and much masturbatory inspired gesticulating from the Brum fans towards persons unknown amongst the Town contingent. The stewards stare into the crowd trying to spot the culprits. At the end of the match this antagonism carries on with some Brummies coming into the Churchman’s stand looking to tolchock some Ipswich droogs. As a result the exit onto Portman Road is closed by police with a steward in enormous earphones35552795234_cf7de7c133_o turning people back. There is much muttering and displeasure as everyone has to file through the players’ car park and leave via the practice pitch or the gates in Constantine Road. The one advantage 36220436702_8a383cb9c7_oof this is that I get to pass the sign in the car park which thanks me for my visit, which is nice. Other exits from the stadium do not offer this courtesy, implying that if you’re one of the few who have driven to the stadium, probably in an unnecessarily large car which the club have let you park on the premises, then you’re much more welcome than if you are just one of the 18,000 who have had to cough up your hard earned cash to come in through the turnstile.
The first match of the season is over and those early clouds have rained pennies from heaven all over town; it’s been a good afternoon; the Town have won and not played too badly at all. It’s just one game admittedly, but it’s an early two fingers to those people who furiously didn’t renew their season tickets because the football was rubbish, but also an endorsement for those people who played nicely and applauded when well–intentioned passes went astray. For proper football supporters it’s not about winning, it’s about being there. Yeah, but we won too!

 

 

Ipswich Town 3 Wigan Athletic 0

An evening in early April and Ipswich Town’s last mid-week match of the season will follow an after work beer with a friend, a beer with my tea (a pie) and a pre-match beer with some bloke who I talked to about why he generally only ever goes to evening matches; he owns horses. About 7.30 I set off down Portman Road from St Jude’s Tavern.
Evening matches are best. They make a grand punctuation mark at the end of a day and the creep of dusk and darkness is a lovely thing, particularly when its shot through with bright, white floodlight. As I approach the corner of the ground where that light spills over the tops of the stands I hear an unfamiliar accent and encounter two big blokes excitedly but carefully composing a selfie with the stadium in the background. They must be football tourists, and I ask them where they are from. “We’re from Norway, there’s lots of us here tonight and loads of Swedes too”. Those Vikings just can’t break the habit can they? Coming over here in their long boats and now courtesy of Scandinavian Airlines. Just for something to say I tell them I nearly ended up heading for Trondheim once when trying to drive out of Ostersund towards Karlstad. It’s a story I like to tell all Scandinavians. “I’m from Trondheim” and “He’s from Trondheim” they said simultaneously. I shake their hands; meeting football supporters from abroad almost brings a tear to my eye, we love them and they love us. They’re a friendly bunch, our European neighbours, and so are 48% of British people who voted in that there referendum (OK, so Norway isn’t in the EU, but Sweden is and Denmark, and Finland). As I dream of the entente cordiale, the Scandinavians meet up with some fellow countryman to clap and chant “Ipswich, Ipswich”,33818399246_5021c20e48_o clearly misunderstanding the local custom of being very quiet in Portman Road.

Tonight Ipswich Town will play Wigan Athletic, a coming together of the town on the river from which George Orwell took his name, with the town about whose residents George Orwell wrote in his 1937 book The Road to Wigan Pier.33732085891_dcc1d00bde_o With both clubs floundering at the crappy end of Division Two, it’s appropriate that his book dealt with the hardships and suffering of the great depression, though I may be guilty of losing perspective there.

To celebrate my wealth compared to the poor devils of 1930’s Wigan I splash out £3 on a programme. Tonight the cover features Jordan Spence who squints at the camera and I think looks a bit like Tyrone Mings, which could be why Town signed him. 33475150710_19166e7098_o(1)Bart Bialkowski and David McGoldrick peer over his shoulder and stare at the nape of his neck respectively, poised to step forward should he fall forwards off the page.

I have a choice of turnstile to get into the ground tonight because there’s nobody much here and I pick number seven, “ Lucky number seven turnstile tonight “ I say to the operator “Ha ha. Yes” he says humouring me. Inside the ground I have a brief chat with a steward with whom I used to work, before taking up my seat near the back of the stand. With the game soon to start I am a little surprised to see the same steward walking up the steps towards me a few minutes later; he tells me there was a complaint the previous Saturday about a supporter banging a tambourine. That supporter was me and I am asked not to bang the tambourine.33475148820_e2be0eb189_o I stand up and announce to everyone around me that I have been banned from banging a tambourine in support of the Town. People laugh, and indeed it is laughable. I am not allowed to make a noise at a football match. Then again, this is Ipswich, which has clearly never recovered from its 17th century position as a stronghold of puritan killjoys where playing sport was banned on Sundays.
Seditiously, I invite others to bang the tambourine on my behalf, which a couple do half-heartedly, but there would be no revolution. One would have hoped the club would have censured the complainer for being a ridiculous arse and sided with me. I should have complained first of course, saying I would like to complain about anyone who might complain about my banging a tambourine. Then, when the complainant complained they could have told him that they’d already received a complaint about him and he should desist from complaining forthwith.

The game begins. Ipswich are better than Wigan and score. I can’t bring myself to celebrate. When Crazee the mascot appears by the steps into the stand to bang his drum, yes; bang his DRUM, much noisier than a tambourine, I expect a steward to tell him to stop. Nothing happens, so I skip down the steps to Crazee and explain my situation to him and most obligingly he rattles the tambourine to the cheers of the crowd. Feeling a little better for this small victory, this two-fingers to my oppressors I cough up a cheer and bang the tambourine naughtily when Ipswich score a second goal.
At half-time I consider moving to another seat but I’m a broken man and instead contemplate throwing myself off the top tier to make a statement, but I think better of it in case the referee abandons the game when we’re 2-0 up and heading for a rare victory. I’d never forgive myself, although may be I wouldn’t have to. Anyway, I stay sat where I was and console myself by sniggering at the name of the Wigan Athletic No 6 who is called Max Power.

The football resumes and Ipswich Town are playing okay tonight, although Wigan Athletic are not at all good and have been the architects of their own downfall (or as it subsequently said in the report on the ITFC website, the “victims of their own downfall”…well durr) , but at least Ipswich look like they know they must score goals. Wigan Athletic come close to scoring a few themselves however, even though they are rubbish, and despite Town eventually winning 3-0 it is Ipswich Town’s goalkeeper, Bialkowski who is the man of the match. Satisfyingly Max Power is booked for tackling too strongly; he probably needs some sort of resistor, although at least he doesn’t blow a fuse and get himself sent off.

The final whistle blows and Town have won at last; I look up at the slogan placed by the club at the top of the North Stand. “What is a club?” it asks, and rather cockily answers its own question: “The Noise, The Passion, The Feeling of Belonging”. Yeah right. You can probably make your own conclusions about that.