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'Unbelievable': Story of how defiant Ipswich Town fans rallied behind their team as relegation loomed

PUBLISHED: 19:30 13 April 2019 | UPDATED: 21:55 13 April 2019

Town fans at Bolton Wanderers earlier this season. Picture: Pagepix

Town fans at Bolton Wanderers earlier this season. Picture: Pagepix

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It is often said that when times get tough, you know who your true friends are.

North Stand fans sang throughout the Ipswich Town v Birmingham City match.    Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comNorth Stand fans sang throughout the Ipswich Town v Birmingham City match. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

If that’s the case, the way Ipswich Town supporters have stuck firmly behind their team as relegation loomed has showed they are perhaps the best friends a football club could wish for.

MORE: Ipswich Town’s relegation to League One confirmed following draw with Birmingham City

For diehard fans who have seen so many triumphs in the past, watching the club they love rooted to the bottom of the Championship table for most of the season has been unbelievably hard.

But whereas many fans from other clubs would have left the stands long before the drop, Town fans have not only stayed by the players’ sides but got louder and louder in their support for Paul Lambert and his team.

Town fans with their inflatables before kick-off at Bolton Picture: PagepixTown fans with their inflatables before kick-off at Bolton Picture: Pagepix

It is an amazing story of defiance, sticking with your club through thick and thin and staying positive even when things are not going to plan.

MORE: ‘Gutted that this day has actually come’ - Town fans react to relegation

Max Helm and Rich Townend had already planned to kick off their “Blue Action” campaign to boost the atmosphere at Portman Road when the poor run of results began under former manager Paul Hurst.

To start a campaign encouraging fans to be more vocal and positive at the very moment Town were struggling might have seemed have seemed a hard sell.

Yet Mr Helm said at Blue Action’s launch against Bolton Wanderers on September 22: “If anything, this is the best time to do it because it is when the club needs us most.”

And to the surprise of the their opponents, Town fans got behind the movement - shouting, singing and cheering even during some of Tractor Boys’ worst defeats.

It proved Mr Helm’s theory that “enthusiasm is more infectious than negativity” and that Town fans could “control the narrative, make it positive” - even in dark times.

Mark Ramsay, chairman of the official Ipswich Town Supporters’ Club - who faced the difficult task of speaking at the Player Awards Evening straight after the match where Town were relegated - said: “The support has been brilliant this year. I can’t find the words for it - it’s been unbelievable.

“The singing and shouting has been fantastic. The fans have galvanised behind Paul Lambert. Considering the position we’re in, there hasn’t been a lot of negativity.”

For Mr Ramsay, the backing from supporters at the midweek loss to Brentford - which put the Tractor Boys on the brink of the drop - epitomised the attitude of Town fans this season.

“I was on the platform at Liverpool Street and as I was queuing up, the supporters were singing at Liverpool Street,” he said.

“That sums up for me that we’ve been fantastic.

“There was a comment from a Brentford supporter who said he hasn’t seen support like that all season.

“He believed ours were the best supporters he had seen all season.

“We just hope that things on the field of play will start improving as they have in the terraces.”

Mr Helm - a Blues fan for more than 20 years, who has seen them fall from the heights of the Premier League to League One - said that even though he and fellow fans had been “resigned to relegation for months”, their support for Town has only got stronger.

“To be honest no-one thought we were going to get out of it, certainly from March but even in February,” he said.

“I’m perfectly at peace with it.

“However we’ve been trying to change the mentality and get fans to think differently.

“There are a lot of green shoots from this season and a lot of the right noises.

“The support has been really positive. People are starting to get it - that a game is about getting involved and enjoying yourself.

“We’re trying to get the fans to understand that the game is an experience in itself. Perhaps don’t think about the wider context - just enjoy the moment.

“It’s just getting the message out there that we’ve got to get out there, singing songs and enjoying our team.

“As a player, there is nothing better than hearing the crowd roar you on. The feeling you also get as a fan in the community is also massive.”

■ What have you thought of the atmosphere at Portman Road this season? Write, giving your full contact details, to andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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