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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
03/04: Preview: Ipswich Town
Opposition opinion
by Ralph Morris of Ipswich Website Pride of Anglia

What happened last season?
Until last season Ipswich Town Football Club was held-up as a "model" for other clubs to follow. Living within our means, a well run club, right and proper in our dealings and never before had we "terminated" a manager's contract mid-season. So:

(1) Administration was a bitter pill to swallow, even in the current financial mess football finds itself, but that is of little consolation to unsecured creditors, many of whom are local business owned by Town fans.
(2) The sacking of George Burley although not entirely unexpected, given our appalling start to the season, was sad in the way his 20-odd year association with the club ended. A top-class player and manager who had clearly lost the plot in the end.

On the footballing front, new incumbent Joe Royle worked minor miracles in turning a relegation battle into a push for a play-off berth. But in the end - forced sales of Jamie Clapham, Darren Ambrose and Hermann Hreidarsson notwithstanding - the 20-point head start we gave the divisions front runners at the beginning of the campaign proved too much of a gap at the end.

What's going to happen next season?
The emergence of younger players such as Darren Bent, Pablo Counago, Matt Richards, Dean Bowditch and Thomas Gaardsoe, and numerous others coming through from the Academy sides bodes well for the future. Blend those with the experienced Chris Makin, Fabian Wilnis and Jim Magilton and we stand a very good chance of making the play-offs.

But the key to success is learning how to deal with the "lesser" sides in the division. 17 points from a possible 24 against the top four sides last season (Portsmouth, Leicester, Reading and Sheffield United) but only 10 from 24 against four of the bottom clubs (Grimsby, Stoke, Brighton & Wednesday) speaks volumes.

And here's hoping that the signing of net-minder Kelvin Davis from Franchise FC, as a replacement for the free-transfer granted Andy Marshall, combined with the recent additions of Georges Santos and Drissa Disallo (from Grimbsy and Burnley respectively) can add some grit to the back line that leaked goals with Gay Abandon in 2002-03!

Can you recommend a pub for away fans?
The Drum & Monkey (10) and The Station Hotel (11) are two pubs popular with away fans and are just a few minutes walk from the ground. Both are fairly basic spit-and-sawdust style establishments, and whilst you will have no problems at all in being served, don't expect an overtly warm welcome.

I personally recommend the Black Horse, which again is just a few minutes walk from the ground, and serves a good selection of beers. Provided you don't go in mob-handed you should have no problems being served. If none of these takes your fancy you can head into the Town Centre (10 minutes walk from the ground) where there are a quite a few pubs that may or may not be prepared to serve you!

Directions to the Black Horse (9) pub...
Head north along PORTMAN ROAD past the back of the COBBOLD STAND and the corner of the NORTH STAND until you reach GREAT GIPPING STREET on your right. (Assuming you have not turned around to gaze in awe at the magnificent new North Stand, in which case it will be on your left). Walk down GREAT GIPPING STREET and through an underpass/subway (about 150 yards). As you emerge from the underpass you will see on your left the POLICE STATION. To the right of the Police Station is the BLACK HORSE pub.

What's the nearest railway station?
Ipswich Railway Station (1) is, at most, a 10-minute walk from Portman Road (2). When you leave the Station it is nigh on impossible to miss seeing the ground. The new Greene King Stand towers above the rest of the stadium and is a new feature on the Ipswich 'skyline'. After exiting the station head over the bridge opposite which brings you into Princess Street. Continue along Princess Street and take the first left into Portman Road.

Visiting fans are housed in blocks V1 and V2 of the Cobbold Stand which is more or less the first set of turnstiles you will encounter!

Where is the best place to park?
Street parking is possible but not in the immediate vacinity of the ground. There are a number of multi-storey and other car parks within easy walking distance of Portman Road but they can be a nightmare to get away from after the game. I've been stuck in one of them for an hour-and-a-quarter after matches on more than one occasion. Your best bet is to park in either the multi-story car park next to Ipswich Station (3.30 per stay) (3) or West End Road (4) car park (pay and display 2-3 per stay I think) which is also where away coaches are parked. Don't leave it to the last minute to get parked up. Allow yourself at least an hour before the game.

What about Fast Food?
There are a number of fast food stalls set up along Portman Road on match days, all of which are, in my opinion well worth avoiding. There is a McDonald's and KFC (7) in Cardinals Park but your best bet is to head along Sir Alf Ramsey Way to a mobile burger bar at the North West corner of the ground (8). They serve a variety of fried foods (burgers, bacon rolls, etc - but no chips for some reason) at reasonable prices and a quality quite rare at football stadia. There are usually a few seats and tables set-up to one side of the van and a large tract of grass to sit on if these are all taken. It is quite popular so expect to queue for five minutes or longer the closer kick-off time approaches.

Also worth a look...
Some 20 Million pounds worth of ground improvements where made to the ground between 2001 and 2002. There is a new two-tier Greene King Stand (formerly Churchmans), a new two-tier North Stand and a whole host of other changes. These developments have increased the ground capacity from 22,000 to 30,000.

Well worth a look if you have time before the game are the two statues of Sir Alf Ramsey (5) and Sir Bobby Robson (6). The statue of Sir Alf, unveiled in August 2000, is located at the corner of the North Stand and the Cobbold Stand. That of Sir Bobby, unveiled in July of 2002, is on the opposite side of the road from the Cobbold Stand, about half-way along.

Word Association
Ipswich Town Now just another football club (almost)
Beckham sarongs
Milton Keynes Concrete Cows
The Premiership Fools Gold
Division Two Where?
Steve Palmer One of the few footballer's in the modern game capable of stringing words of more than one syllable together - Top bloke !
Watford Allotments

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)

"Delia's Cook book is Satan's word to the masses!"

"This was a weird and wonderful experience!"

"Before the Watford game at Portman Road, go into The Fat Cat pub on Spring Road wearing large red antlers an a yellow dunces hat and I'll buy you a pint"

"Crab sticks actually contain no crab and now have to be labelled crab flavoured sticks"

"I liked Watford a bit before, but this site really kind of makes you like them more" (awwww - ed)

"still not offering you a job. Come on, it must be easy to get a job in Watford - the town is rolling in it"

"I like women with hairy armpits and BO (no seriously)"