Yesterday afternoon I was chilling on the Washington DC metro (DC’s Tube), minding my own business after a marathon conference in America’s capital city, proudly sporting my fresh ITFC sweatshirt that had just landed in the post.

As the doors opened at the next stop, I was taken aback when the bloke across from me bellowed on his way out, "Go Tractor Boys!"

I’m getting more and more of these remarks when I wear my Ipswich gear out and about here in the DC area and beyond.

It seems showing off the Ipswich badge has transitioned from eliciting blank stares to earning cheers for a team challenging for Premier League promotion.

It’s about bloody time!

I grew up in the golden era of Sir Bobby Robson, when Ipswich shared the spotlight with the likes of Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, and Manchester United.

East Anglian Daily Times: James grew up watching Town under the great Bobby Robson. McKenna's men seem to be bringing the good times back to Portman RoadJames grew up watching Town under the great Bobby Robson. McKenna's men seem to be bringing the good times back to Portman Road (Image: Newsquest/Ross Halls)
My inaugural live game was against Barcelona in the UEFA Cup in 1977, where we outplayed the Catalans 3-0 at Portman Road.

I, a nine-year-old from Orford, idolised striker Paul Mariner and witnessed Suffolk's own Roger Osbourne mark the great Johan Cruyff out of the match. We were spoiled in those days.

While we’re now in the Championship, I don’t think there’s a team playing football that’s more fun to watch in this division than Ipswich Town. 

I was once sceptical of Kieron Mckenna’s build-up-from-the-back style of play. 

Every time Luke Woolfenden received the ball from Christian Walton last season, I’d start biting my nails, silently urging him to hoof the ball up field and away from danger.  But I’m now a convert to McKenna’s style – it’s a feast for the eyes.

Like many fans I have replayed Wes Burns’ wonder goal over and over since Saturday.  I even measured the trajectory of the ball from Burns’ foot into the goal and wondered if he had managed to transcend the laws of physics in some magical way – that ball bends like a banana on its way to the top corner of the net. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Wes Burns' incredible goal made headlines across the worldWes Burns' incredible goal made headlines across the world (Image: Stephen Waller)
Sky, the Daily Mail, and other international media outlets have been showering praise on Burns and his teammates, both for the remarkable build-up and the stunning execution of the strike.

And then I read Alex Jones' story on the top five goals this season and I really couldn’t distinguish between them all in terms of quality. 

If you haven’t read that story, I’d encourage you to do so.  AJ is the EADT’s resident “professor of football” and his commentary on all such matters is precise and well-researched. 

While Burns’ wonder strike defies physics, could you really say that it betters Brandon Williams’ pitch-length sprint and cool finish vs Preston?  The pure athleticism of that run took my breath away.

Or what of Jack Taylor’s powerful 30-yard thunder strikes vs Swansea and Wolves?  The power behind those strikes and confidence required to have a go at that distance were mesmerising. 

READ MORE: From Burns to Mariner - the best goals ever scored at Portman Road 

All these goals have had me off my feet, coffee spilled on the living room floor, cat and dog scrambling to escape from their momentarily delirious owner. 

The fact is the (nearly) first half of this season has been a joy to behold, taking us older fans back to the glory days of George Burley and before that even, Bobby Robson.  Fans, enjoy this era while it lasts!

Back in October, I was starting to anticipate the first managerial sackings of this season. As it turns out, I think six have occurred in the Championship thus far, the latest being Swansea parting ways with head coach Michael Duff and Tony Mowbray being fired at Sunderland. Both are, in my opinion, great coaches.

Personally, I find the constant rotation of managers to be both chaotic and impulsive.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mark Ashton, left, has stressed that Town's approach will be steady and consideredMark Ashton, left, has stressed that Town's approach will be steady and considered (Image: Pagepix)
Fortunately, Mark Ashton has consistently emphasised Ipswich's commitment to a long-term philosophy. He has made it clear that the inevitable challenges the club may face won't sway his managerial decisions.

This stance is echoed in other clubs' approaches.  In the Premier League, Burnley seem to be standing by Vincent Kompany despite a rough start to their season.

In contrast, Sheffield United recently dismissed Paul Heckingbottom, even though he had to navigate player sales for financial reasons after last season as well as a move to the toughest league in the world. 

Who do we think will be next in the Championship?  Could it be Alex Neil of Stoke?  Or perhaps David Wagner at our old foes up the road?  We’ll wait and see …

And lastly, the excitement is building for my return to Portman Road for the Boxing Day contest vs Leicester. A big shout-out to Town's Jacob Henderson for the offer of press box space to watch the game. 

While some overseas fans manage frequent returns, I am sadly not one of them.

East Anglian Daily Times: Portman Road is a special place to be these days - and James will be there on Boxing DayPortman Road is a special place to be these days - and James will be there on Boxing Day (Image: PA Images)
It’s been six years since I was last at Town’s home, in 2017, when we played out a very dreary 0-0 draw vs QPR in the latter days of the McCarthy era. 

So, on Boxing Day, if you spot someone in a small Hyundai driving on the wrong side of the street on the A14 from Bury, be kind – he's just accustomed to navigating the horrendous DC traffic on the right-hand side.

See you all at Portman Road on the 26th!