Blues' hero recalls crushing Canaries

THE surest way to ensure legendary status at Ipswich Town is to score a winner against the old enemy Norwich City.

Derek Davis

THE surest way to ensure legendary status at Ipswich Town is to score a winner against the old enemy Norwich City.

So when Alex Mathie went two better and hit a first half hat-trick in a 5-0 thumping against the Canaries he wrote himself into Town folklore forever.

It was February 10 years ago when the Scot, who had already carved out a solid reputation with striker partner Ian Marshall and then David Johnson the second, when he destroyed City with his 25 minute triple, before limping out at half time with a calf injury.

Dutch winger Bobby Petta grabbed the other two goals to ensure the rout that is talked about to this day and Mathie remembers it fondly.

“Like Ipswich now we were doing okay and just off the play-off places so it was a game everyone was looking forward to,” he recalls.

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“We had worked on a new throw-in routine that Bryan Hamilton introduced and my first goal came from that move so it worked at treat.

“That first goal was my favourite of three. It was a good strike from 20 yards and set me up.”

Few realised at the time that Mathie was actually carrying an injury but refused to give in to it until the break.

He said: “I pulled my calf in the first five minutes but scored soon after and that momentum kept me going.”

Not surprisingly that hat-trick against Sunday's opponents remains his favourite, but another against Sunderland still brings a

smile to the Scot's face.

Mathie said: “I got a hat-trick for Ipswich against Sunderland and that was a bit special after playing for Newcastle.

“I had got quite a few people tickets, Sunderland fans, and they were not happy with quite a few not speaking to me for a while afterwards.

“But on the other hand there were loads of people I knew from my Newcastle days who loved it.”

Mathie was the sixth Town star to complete the feat and the last - so far.

While Kevin Lisbie may look to do it against his old club on Sunday, Mathie will be there to offer his expertise as a BBC Radio Suffolk summariser.

He said: “It is going to be an interesting day. Back then there was not much between us in terms of league position but now there is quite a gap.

“Ipswich need the points to get into the play-offs and Norwich are scrapping to get away from the bottom places.”

Mathie remembers the build up in 1998.

He said: “It was the game everyone was talking about for about two weeks before. Unlike other games there is a lot more press interest and a lot more pressure on the players.

“All you can do is try to relax and play the best game you can.

“There is a lot mental pressure, but I used to enjoy that.”

While he would still love to be playing, the 39-year-old is enjoying the media work after packing it in as player-manager at Pickering Town following spells at York City, Preston and Dundee United.

He said: “It is different but I'm really enjoying it. Brenner Woolley is really helpful and a very good commentator, and the Ipswich fans have been kind to me and seem to enjoy it.

“I try to be objective and at the same time try and keep everyone happy, but that doesn't always work.

“I might accidentally upset people, perhaps players or staff, but all I'm doing is giving a fair and honest view as I see it. That is my job on the radio.”

Mathie his 47 goals in 132 appearances for Ipswich after signing from Newcastle United in a £500,000 switch. He started his career at Glasgow Celtic before a spell at Morton and then Port Vale on loan.