Dave Gooderham: Will the real Ipswich Town please stand up? Festive fixtures will tell us a lot

Norwich City's Gary Megson slumps to his knees after scoring a last-gasp own goal against Ipswich in

Norwich City's Gary Megson slumps to his knees after scoring a last-gasp own goal against Ipswich in December 1993 - and making Dave a Town fan!

In his latest Ipswich Town column, Dave Gooderham looks back at the festive day which made him a Town fan, and ponders which way the season will go from here - ahead of a crucial run of Christmas fixtures.

Dave Gooderham followed Chelsea as a youngster - before Gary Megson got involved!

Dave Gooderham followed Chelsea as a youngster - before Gary Megson got involved! - Credit: Archant

I have a lot to thank Gary Megson for.

Not exactly the opening nine words you expect to read in an Ipswich Town column. But as it is a season of reflection, let me explain…

26 years ago to the day yesterday, a last minute corner was swung in. It was met by a header and a ripple into the Norwich City net. I was grabbed by a random stranger and we celebrated in unison.

We chanted 'Youds, Youds, Youds' as we were certain that our Eddie had scored a last minute winner against the old enemy. In fact, it was Megson himself who grabbed unwanted headlines with an unsaveable header of his own.

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It was one of those unforgettable moments in football. I had originally visited Portman Road with my Dad, an Arsenal fan, to watch the other teams and the other big names. But Megson, Youds and a random stranger had other ideas.

From that day, to this day, I was and always will be hooked. The ensuing 26 years haven't exactly matched that level of excitement and sheer joy. There have been moments, of course. The most dramatic of Wembley wins, Inter Milan and possibly the finest single season any Town fan born after 1981 might ever experience in between.

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For the most part, we have flirted with a modicum of success but eventually endued a long-term relationship with mediocrity. The love affair that began with a Norwich City header will never change though.

As usual, as an Ipswich Town fan, I am left undecided about how this season will end up. Right now, the league table doesn't lie - but neither do the stats.

Dave Gooderham has high hopes for the return of Freddie Sears. Picture: ROSS HALLS

Dave Gooderham has high hopes for the return of Freddie Sears. Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Are we the side who virtually swept all before them in the first half of August to December or the one which is struggling to claim any victories at all? Will the real Ipswich Town please stand up?

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By the next time you read my ramblings, we may have a clearer idea. This newspaper's esteemed sports editor has been more Santa than Grinch by offering me a couple of weeks off from writing this column. At least I think it was done in festive spirits rather than trying to tell me something.

Anyhow, the next time I prepare 700 words on all things Ipswich Town, we would have played four matches.

Tricky trips to Portsmouth and Lincoln sandwich a home match with Gillingham on Boxing Day. And then we have the New Year's Day showdown with Wycombe, first v second - for now at least.

Having three away games in 11 days might actually help Paul Lambert and his men. They won't need to be on the front foot from the first whistle. Equally important, the home teams will need to be, to some degree. That could play into our hands on both fronts.

It's not that long ago that Ipswich were chalking off impressive 1-0 victories after the other. The single-goal three points might have been a little nervy to watch but they were actually pretty comfortable.

Grab the first goal, sit back and comfortably hold off the opposition. For the most part. Huge credit must go to Lambert and his men for that.

If we can get back to that level of performance, and scoreline, over the next couple of weeks, we can head into 2020 with more than a spring in our step. I'm not going to contemplate the alternative. I actually think my scenario is quite realistic rather than something to ask Santa for.

The home games remain a worry, as do the goals conceded - I repeat last week's wish for Luke Chambers' neck to hurry up and feel better. But there remain reasons to be hopeful.

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The most obvious one being our 'new signing' Freddie Sears. The frontman has declared himself fit and firing and he could well find himself on the bench against Portsmouth on Saturday.

Sears could be just what Ipswich need in terms of his all-action style and willingness to leave everything on the pitch. Depending on the formation - and I won't go into that too much today - I personally expect him to eventually find a starting niche on the wing rather than in his preferred central position.

Either way, Sears' return will give a boost to the dressing room and terraces alike. Just what we need as we enter a crucial fortnight of football.

May I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2020!

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