Fans finally return to Portman Road for Town's clash with Pompey

Fans outside Portman Road

The Blue Army is back on duty! Fans return to Portman Road for the first time in nine months. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

After nine months away, fans have finally been allowed back into Portman Road for Saturday's clash - and most of the lucky 2,000 with tickets couldn't believe their good fortune.

Andrew Mason has been a town fan for years and was delighted when his name was pulled out of the hat - he was looking forward to getting behind the team.

Andrew Mason at Portman Road

Andrew Mason hoped the fans would be positive about the return to Portman Road. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

He lives in Felixstowe although he was born and brought up in Ipswich - and he was looking forward to the crowd playing a part in the match. 

He said: "I hope everyone is positive and cheers them on - I hope there aren't too many moans. It will be great to be back."

He has watched Town's matches online: "But that's not the same as being here!"

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Gerry Summons from Bury St Edmunds has been coming to Portman Road for 52 years - since Town were promoted under Bill McGarry in 1968.

Gerry Summons at Portman Road

Gerry Summons had been worried about Covid numbers in Ipswich before coming to the match. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

But he admitted to being a little bit apprehensive when his name was pulled out of the hat. He said: "I've been a regular for all those years, but I'm a bit worried about this Covid and I know there's a lot in Ipswich but I felt I had to come.

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"I hope it will be positive for the team. I'd like to see the money man (club owner Marcus Evans) give a bit more so we can buy some experienced men to go with the boys. But I think Paul Lambert is the right man for the job and I hope they do well today."

Ollie and Marcus Smith at Portman Road

Ollie and Marcus Smith at Portman Road. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Brothers Ollie and Marcus Smith from Henley Road in Ipswich have been coming to Portman Road since they were children in the 1990s - and were looking forward to their return to the stadium.

Ollie said: "We've seen the matches online but it's not the same  - it's great to get back in the ground again."

And for Wendy Smith from Maldon in Essex, the important thing was to get back into the ground.

Wendy Smith at Portman Road

Wendy Smith had travelled from Maldon to support Town - and was going to enjoy the day whatever the result. - Credit: Wendy Smith

She said: "It's just great to be going back. To be honest, whatever the result I'll be happy just to be here - but obviously I'd love to see a victory."

And news reporter Olly Sullivan was also among those whose name came out of the hat.

Ollie Sullivan at Portman Road

Reporter Ollie Sullivan was delighted to be back in Portman Road. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

He sent a note from inside the ground before the match: "What an amazing feeling it was walking back up the stairs and seeing the Portman Road pitch for the first time in so long. It all felt so surreal.

"To see the players out warming up, seeing the joy among over Town fans... It was incredible. Hopefully things will improve into the spring and we'll see this fantastic stadium packed with fans again."

Fan having temperature taken

All fans had to have their temperature taken before going into Portman Road. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Only the Co-op Stand and the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand were open for the 2,000 fans who were permitted in the stadium. They all had to observe social distancing although bubbles could sit together. Everyone had to have a temperature check on their way into the stadium.

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