Bloomfield is a boyhood Town fan and coaches in the Ipswich academy... but 'Mr Wycombe' has a firm eye on three points
PUBLISHED: 17:31 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:35 25 November 2019
Matt Bloomfield will achieve a childhood dream when he leads his Wycombe Wanderers side out at Portman Road tomorrow night. ANDY WARREN spoke to him
It's been a long old journey but the two halves of Matt Bloomfield's life will finally collide at Portman Road tomorrow night.
The physical journey is long enough. The Wycombe Wanderers midfielder splits his time between the club he's represented for 16 years and his family home in Felixstowe, with the two separated by the best part of 150 miles.
Then there's the journey which has brought him to this point, the point where he will finally play a competitive game on the ground he grew up dreaming of gracing each and every week. He'll lead his side out as captain in a first-v-second clash, no less.
Of the 35-year-old's 524 professional appearances, 523 have come in the Chairboys' blue quarters while the solitary one came 16 years ago in Ipswich blue in a League Cup loss at Notts County.
He's hoped the two would meet in every cup draw since the day he left the Blues in 2003 but it never came - until now.
Unsurprisingly he stresses there are no split loyalties heading into the game - he is known as 'Mr Wycombe' after all - but Ipswich remains in his heart. The club could well be a big part of his future, too.
Bloomfield spends most Monday evenings coaching the Blues' Under 18s at Playford Road and this is a route he wants to explore further once his playing days do ultimately come to an end.
But in the here and now he has just one focus, securing three points for surprise League One leaders Wycombe.
MORE: Former Town youngster Bloomfield's drama-filled journey from a single Ipswich game to becoming 'Mr Wycombe'
"It was the first game I looked for when the fixtures came out in June because I've waited a long time for the opportunity to go back and play at Portman Road," Bloomfield said.
"I've not thought about it really because we've been playing so many games and we've had business to deal with. But now I'm able to look forward to it.
"I genuinely can't remember the last time I played at Portman Road. We played all of our reserve games there in those days and it must have been one there just before I left.
"All my family are going, all my friends and all my neighbours. A lot of my friends are season ticket holder so a lot of them will be in the North Stand or dotted around the ground, but my family will be in the Wycombe end because that's where I get the free tickets.
"It will be a special night to lead out my club at Portman Road, hugely special. There's no getting away from that."
Town's Playford Road training base is full of familiar faces for Bloomfield.
MORE: 'Can we lose it? Can we lose the title this month?' - Lambert looks ahead to Town's top-of-the-table clash with Wycombe
He coaches the Under 18s with Adem Atay, a former team-mate in Town's youth set-up, as are current Ipswich Under 23 coaches Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg and general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill.
Then there's manager Paul Lambert, who was in charge of Bloomfield's Wycombe side when they surged all the way to the semi-final of the League Cup in 2007 and the League Two play-offs the following year.
Bloomfield's not been around much in recent weeks, given Wycombe's busy match schedule, so there's no danger of the midfielder gleaning any vital information which could help topple the Blues.
"If it's a Saturday to Saturday week then the gaffer (Gareth Ainsworth) gives me Mondays off and I go in and help out with the 18s," Bloomfield said.
You may also want to watch:
"I've just about finished my A-licence now and I can get to the training ground from my home in Felixstowe in about 14 minutes so it's nice and close.
"I've known Ads for 20 years, Bryan (Klug) for 20 years and people like Lee O'Neill, Chris Hogg, Gerard Nash and Scott Mitchell too. It's really kind of them to give me the opportunity to go back there, initially with Mick Stockwell and the Under 15s last season, and it's been a really opportunity for me to learn the ropes in the coaching world.
MORE: 'The pressure is potentially more on them' - Chambers on top-of-the-table clash with Wycombe
"They are really good people. When Paul Lambert got the job he invited me up to the training ground to go and see him again so that was all great.
"Ipswich is a club which has played a really important part in my life. I was at Wembley in 2000 to see the play-off win and was a full-time player for a few years too, especially in my childhood and teenage years.
"But I've spent my adult life at Wycombe, really, so this is going to be special for so many reasons.
"I was an Ipswich supporter and I was there as a young player but now I've been at Wycombe for 16 years so it's two clubs who have played a huge part in my life and will continue to do so in the future I hope."
Bloomfield on Wycombe's surprise start to the season
Matt Bloomfield isn't offended if you admit you are a little surprised to see his Wycombe side at the top of League One.
"I never dreamt in June that this game could possibly be first-v-second," he admits.
"I was fully expecting Ipswich to be in the top two whenever we played them because I knew the quality they have in their team and the job Paul Lambert's doing there.
"But when the fixtures came out we only had nine players out on the grass for pre-season training because that was all we had signed at the time. Going back to that stage, our optimism levels were not particularly high.
"We'd had money problems off the pitch, our budget had been cut and the optimism wasn't high. I never dreamt we'd be in this position but six months later that's the case and it's all going well.
"It's a big game for both clubs and for Wycombe to be going to Ipswich in this position is incredible. It's massive for us.
"Our club and squad size is nothing in comparison to everything Ipswich have so we're just trying to take this game as it comes around.
MORE; 'We'll keep this going between us' - Donacien ready to battle Vincent-Young for starting spot after return to form
"We had some investment from Rob Couhig and his nephew Pete which put the budget back to where it was last season, which was still not on the same playing field as a club the size of Ipswich.
"We brought in a couple of good players we'd known previously like Fred Onyedinma and Dave Wheeler. We signed Paul Smyth on loan from QPR as well which is a good signing for us and while we lost Jason McCarthy to Millwall we were able to sign Jack Grimmer as his replacement.
"We knew we were going to be half-decent by the time the season came around and we were optimistic of trying to improve on last season's finish of 17th. That was and continues to be our aim but the good thing is we're ahead of schedule. The sooner we get to our points level for safety then we can reset our targets.
"We have a special group of people and a group of lads who understand what we're trying to do - luckily more often than not we've been able to execute our plan.
"We aren't getting carried away, we have a tight squad which is being stretched to the max and these are the times that test us. But we know our strengths too."