Statue of Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie will be unveiled this month
- Credit: Archant
The statue of Kevin Beattie, the player regularly voted Ipswich Town's greatest ever, will be unveiled in Portman Road on Saturday, December 18 - on what would've been his 68th birthday.
Confirmation of the date comes as finishing touches are made to the statue, funded following a huge community effort from Blues fans.
The ceremony will be attended by Beattie's family and former team-mates, sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn, and those who have helped make the project happen.
Most importantly, Ipswich Town fans who have crowdfunded the campaign are invited to join the unveiling, which will take place between 9.30am and 11am. The match against Sunderland takes places later that day at 3pm.
The campaign for a statue has been led by the East Anglian Daily Times/Ipswich Star, alongside BBC Radio Suffolk and the TWTD website, and was launched after The Beat's sudden death in September 2018 at the age of 64.
Brad Jones, editor of the East Anglian Daily Times and who has led the campaign committee, said: "It will be a special moment to finally unveil The Beat's statue in front of what we hope will be thousands of fans. It's the fans who made this happen. They have been so generous.
"It's taken a massive community effort, and this will be a fitting memorial. It is an amazing statue, an action pose of The Beat leaping for a header, and it really captures his power and athleticism in his prime."
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BBC Radio Suffolk's Mark Murphy, who is on the campaign team, will host a live outside broadcast from 9.30am on December 18, and be the master of ceremonies.
The unveiling itself is expected to happen at around 10.15am.
Road closures will be in place in Portman Road and Alderman Road for safety reasons, and people are advised to find alternative places to park if driving into the town centre.
Portman Road Car Park C will only be accessible from Friars Bridge Road.
The event will end at 11am to avoid potential disruption to the Sunderland match later that day, which is expected to attract a near sell-out crowd as the first game in the 'Pack out Portman Road' initiative over Christmas.
Beattie will stand in Portman Road, diagonally opposite Planet Blue, on land provided by Ipswich Borough Council. The council has commissioned the statue, and has played a key role in bringing the project to fruition, with funding supplied through the campaign.
Work has been taking place on site for around two months, with statue project team member Mark Calver, of MC Contracts, building the plinth itself in kind, with materials donated by Ridgeons.
The East of England Co-op has also generously donated the stone cladding and stonemasonry work to the project through HL Perfitts, a part of the Co-op's family of businesses, saving the campaign a major cost.
Brad said: "Without the amazing support we've had from Mark Calver, Ipswich Borough Council, in particular Roly Arbon, and the East of England Co-op, this would've been so much harder to get over the line. A huge thanks must go to them, and everyone who has played a part in making this happen. Every penny donated has helped."
Highly-acclaimed sculptor Sean, an Ipswich Town fan, was also responsible for the statues of both Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson.
Finishing touches have been made to the statue this week at the Bronze Age Foundry in east London, while the plinth and a new fence behind it are now largely in place.
Beattie has often been voted as the club's greatest-ever player.
He arrived at Portman Road as a 15-year-old and went on to make 296 appearances for Town, scoring 32 goals before injury brought his career at the club to an end in 1981.
He was in Town side that famously won the FA Cup in 1978 and was later awarded a UEFA Cup winners' medal, although he missed the 1981 final through injury.
Capped nine times by England, he was hailed as one of the world's best defenders by his Town boss, Sir Bobby Robson.