Town fans left feeling Blue

By Mark Heathat Portman RoadA SEA of blue-and-white shirts, fans chanting and cheering their footballing heroes – but this was not the away section at Carrow Road.

By Mark Heath

at Portman Road

A SEA of blue-and-white shirts, fans chanting and cheering their footballing heroes - but this was not the away section at Carrow Road.

Instead, more than 1,000 Ipswich Town fans packed into the bars at Portman Road to watch their beloved Blues battle the old enemy via a specially set-up satellite link - the only place in Suffolk where the derby match could be seen.


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"The fans love it," said Adam Hateley, food and beverage manager for Ipswich Town. "There are 1,000 people here who couldn't get tickets, so they really enjoy this - we have a lot of good feedback. We had people queuing up outside the ground at 10.15am, which was incredible to see."

Some 500 Blues fans were crammed into the club's Legends bar, where they could watch the action on any of 15 different televisions.

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An air of euphoria seemed to wash over the fans in the first half as they saw Town hit the woodwork twice, through Ian Westlake and Darren Bent.

"How are this lot top of the league?" one disbelieving fan asked a friend as Ipswich pushed forward. "We're all over them."

It was an altogether more sedate atmosphere in the Galleria, where fans sat in rows, living and breathing every second of the action on two huge screens.

Even there though, a spontaneous eruption of applause met the half-time whistle - a show of appreciation for Town's dominant first-half display.

On the other side of the ground fans raised a glass to the team's performance in the Centre Spot bar, while families also had a huge screen of their own on which to savour the verve and pace of Town's attacking football.

"You've got to be able to watch this game," said Rob Case, who travelled from Felixstowe with his 14-year-old son, Daniel, to ensure they saw the match.

"If you can't see it on normal television, then you've got to find another way and this is a great idea. It's a bit quiet here at the moment, though - I think we're all a bit nervous."

The second half kicked off with a palpable sense of anticipation as Town pushed forward again - but then disaster struck.

Norwich scored twice before Ipswich could launch another attack, prompting shots of Canaries chairman Delia Smith - which were met with deafening boos from an ever-more exasperated crowd.

As more beer was drunk and cigarettes lit, fans chanted for the introduction of Pablo Counago and scratched their heads in bewilderment.

Then came another slice of disappointment - Drissa Diallo was shown a red card for a clumsy challenge, and it seemed the inevitability of defeat was beginning to sink in.

Yet there was another twist to come. Tommy Miller joyfully dispatched a penalty to bring Town back into the game, a strike that brought a roar of celebration that must surely have been heard in Norwich.

But within a matter of seconds, though, it was all over. Darren Huckerby's deflected strike sent waves of fans heading for the exits, defeat now a certainty on a day that had started so full of hope.

And there was one finally indignity for those leaving the stadium - a drizzling of rain sent, it seemed, to dampen the spirits even further.

It was a bad day to be a Blue.

n Despite the 3-1 defeat, Norfolk police reported no trouble among the fans and a spokesman said: "All the fans seemed to have enjoyed the day.

"Obviously, Ipswich didn't get the right result, but the behaviour was very good and we didn't have to make a single arrest."

Meanwhile, fans who were hoping to catch highlights of the big game, traditionally shown on Anglia, were left disappointed.

Kevin Piper, a sports presenter for Anglia Television, said: "Anglia would very much have liked to screen highlights of Sunday's local derby.

"However, we were prevented from doing so because of contractual reasons. Despite our efforts to create a slot for a programme, we have been unable to secure the necessary dispensation to show highlights.

"We were able to screen highlights of the fixture before Christmas because we obtained clearance from Sky Television, who have the primary rights to Football League coverage. Unfortunately, we have not managed to secure the necessary dispensation for Sunday's game."

mark.heath@eadt.co.uk

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