Greatest Town team, greatest Town game

OUR series of offerings for Ipswich Town's greatest games have tended to come from the past couple of decades. Today Mike Horne goes a little further back in time to relive his Greatest Ipswich Town game MORE often than not I cannot remember what I was doing this time last week.

OUR series of offerings for Ipswich Town's greatest games have tended to come from the past couple of decades. Today Mike Horne goes a little further back in time to relive his Greatest Ipswich Town game

MORE often than not I cannot remember what I was doing this time last week.

When the cashier says 'enter your PIN' it become a major challenge to the faculties

How strange, then, that I can remember the finest details of Saturday, April 28, 1962.


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We had home-made chicken soup for lunch, dad and I walked through Christchurch Park on our way to Portman Road - and we watched Ipswich Town become champions of the Football League.

'Greatest' on all fronts, I'd say.

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The greatest Ipswich Town game, in my opinion.

The greatest achievement in football - by an unsung country club with no money, no youth set-up and a squad of players no one else really wanted.

The greatest, again in my humble opinion, Ipswich Town team of all time: Bailey, Carberry, Compton, Baxter, Nelson, Elsworthy, Stephenson, Moran, Crawford, Phillips and Leadbetter.

Successive promotions from the depths of Division Three South, and there we were, one game away from winning the championship itself.

The mighty Spurs (Blanchflower, Mackay, Norman, Allen, Dyson et al) had done the double the previous season but were humbled home (3-1) and away (3-2).

Six were put past Burnley, five past Chelsea, four past Birmingham, Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham, Manchester United, Everton and Sheffield United.

Phillips and Crawford were tearing apart the best defences in the land.

And so we came to Town's final game of the season.

Alf Ramsey's unknowns went into the Villa match three points clear of Burnley (two points for a win in those days, of course) who were playing already-relegated Chelsea at Turf Moor but had an away game against Sheffield Wednesday in hand.

The tension which filled Portman Road from kick-off was unbelievable. There was action at both ends in the first half but it ended goal-less. The man with a transistor radio glued to his ear four rows back told us it was the same scoreline at Turf Moor.

We endured another agonising 20 minutes without a goal. Villa's half-back Deakin almost helped us out by heading into his own net but burly custodian Sims clawed it away.

And so we came to that glorious 72nd minute. Baxter was fouled out on the right pushing forward, Stephenson floated the free-kick into the box and Elsworthy outjumped them all.

The ball came back off the underside of the bar but master goal-poacher Crawford (he and Phillips finished the season with 61 league goals between them) had tucked it away with a diving header before it had even touched the ground.

Four minutes later it was all over. Redoubtable Villa defender Sleeuwenhoek couldn't stop Crawford in a one-on-one race for a long ball booted upfield and, although the Villa man blocked the first effort, Crawford was back to his feet the quickest to hook in the clincher.

The final whistle came only seconds before transistor radio man screamed the news we all wanted to hear: '0-0 at Burnley'

Cue massed pitch invasion and joyous celebrations. Ipswich Town were champions of England.

The players came back and attempted a lap of honour but were swamped by the crowd, most of whom had long since abandoned the terraces.

As a 12-year-old Ipswich Town fan, the world could not have been a better place.

Many years later, I had the great pleasure to work alongside possibly Burnley's finest player of that era, Irish midfielder Jimmy McIlroy.

He was still filled with respect for that Ipswich team, said he had never seen a football hit harder by anyone than Ted Phillips and admitted the Burnley boys never really thought they would finish above Ipswich after that 6-2 Portman Road drubbing.

“They were a truly great team,” he told me.

Couldn't agree more, Jimmy.

Ipswich team v Aston Villa: Bailey, Carberry, Compton, Baxter, Nelson, Elsworthy, Stephenson, Moran, Crawford, Phillips and Leadbetter.

Referee: Mr E Crawford.

Attendance: 28,932.

Whichever match is your favourite, let us know.

Write to us on the form printed in the EADT and send it to: Town's Greatest Game, EADT Sport, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or e-mail us at: sport@eadt.co.uk

We will take entries up until Monday, November 19 and then we will reveal your choice as the best Town game ever, and also what we consider the best entrant and why.

There will be a prize for the winner, too.

So get thinking of those great Town games.

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