As Ipswich Town edge ever closer to the play-off zone we call on fans to share their play off memories
The question on everyone’s lips this week is whether Town can secure a place in the play-offs and ultimately gain promotion to the Premier League.
Come Saturday afternoon the first question will be answered, but we could be left searching for even more answers.
Who will we face in the first semi-finals? And will we play arch rivals Norwich City, who already have a confirmed top-six place.
As we await Saturday’s crucial away match against Blackburn Rovers, we are asking Ipswich’s football fans to share their favourite play off memories, whether it be the 2000 final when Ipswich took on Barnsley at Wembley or a battle fought by another team.
For Russell Cook, west Suffolk editor, it was the build up to the famous 2000 victory that most sticks in his memory.
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He said: “I remember Marcus Stewart’s double strike for Ipswich Town in the first-leg play-off semi-final against Bolton Wanderers in 2000 at the Reebok Stadium.
“The Tractor Boys were 2-0 down to goals from Dean Holdsworth and Eidur Gudjohnsen in the opening half-hour which put Bolton in charge, but Ipswich overcame the loss of leading scorer David Johnson and experienced defender Tony Mowbray to fight their way back into the tie with two great goals from Stewart.
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“It set them up for the amazing 5-3 extra-time win back at Portman Road and a play-off final date with Barnsley at Wembley after three consecutive semi-final disappointments.”
Photographer Simon Parker was at that final at Wembley in 2000.
He said: “Being at the Barnsley end facing the sea of blue and white ITFC fans was a fantastic sight.
“The whole ground was like a massive party atmosphere, which you couldn’t help think was something incredibly special to be part of and a huge privilege to be sat pitch-side behind the goal.
“Even when Ipswich went behind to an early goal I still felt that it was going to be Town’s day, then Tony Mowbray scored with a header in front of me and I remember thinking ‘please be in focus’.
“After that the whole match was a blur, meaning I had to watch a video of it a couple of days later to remember the details of it.
“The most memorable thing about it was just before the final whistle as both sets of fans joined together in singing You’ll Never Walk Alone.
“Then I remember the drive home along the A12 with the fans on the bridges over the road waving to the traffic heading back to Ipswich, and the party atmosphere once in Ipswich.
“It certainly gave me a lift after a long day which was far from over as we headed for the film processor back at the office and a long night of processing, finishing around 4am.
“The day was long but it is great to say I was able to be part of it and record the events of a great part of ITFC history.”
Reporter Tom Potter remembers a later ITFC promotion campaign, which sadly wasn’t such a happy occasion.
“I watched Bobby Zamora sink Town in the second leg of the semi-final in 2005 in a virtually empty sports bar in Cardiff, save for a handful of disinterested customers, me and a single, jubilant West Ham fan. Needless to say, it was a depressing experience.”
For managing editor Liz Nice it was a clash between Manchester City and Gillingham that gets her vote.
She said: “Man City v Gillingham was amazing. Paul Dickov in the last minute. Bloody amazing. All the goals were scored in the last 10 minutes I think. Gillingham went 2-0 up. City scored in literally the last minute and then again in extra time. City won on penalties. Will never forget it, it was the best football can ever be.”
However, she also remembers ITFC’s promotion back in 2000 and said: “ITFC v Bolton second-leg was the best ever obviously. All those years of play-off hell set to be repeated, 3-2 down in the final minute then Jim Magilton storms through and turns agony to ecstasy. A moment of greatness never to be repeated.
“I have never been happier at any game ever. It was 3-3 at full time but after Jim’s brilliance, there was only going to be one result.
“We won 5-3 in extra time. Pure magic.”