Cobbolds would “turn in their graves”

BROTHERS John and Patrick Cobbold would both “be turning in their graves,” if they knew how their beloved Ipswich Town had lost touch with the fans, it was claimed last night.

BROTHERS John and Patrick Cobbold would both “be turning in their graves,” if they knew how their beloved Ipswich Town had lost touch with the fans, it was claimed last night.

That’s not just the view of any old supporter. They are the words of David Paul, the nephew of the two great former Town chairmen.

The Suffolk-based member of the Cobbold family cannot help but contrast those golden years, when first his uncle John and then uncle Patrick presided over such a successful period in the club’s history, with the current situation at Portman Road.

In his eyes, the close association between the fans, and the club, has been lost.

His words-from-the-heart echo the sentiments of many fans who have been taking their time to write to the EADT over the last few days.

Mr Paul, who lives near Framlingham, is the son of the late Jean Paul, who was the sister of the legendary Cobbold brothers, Mr John and Mr Patrick.

Most Read

“For me, I think that the community spirit of the club has been lost,” he said yesterday.

“I can feel it in my bones, and I’m sure that everyone else can as well. The close ties between the club and the fans are simply not there anymore.

“As a youngster, aged about ten, I recall being in the directors’ box with Johnny (John Cobbold) when the fans started singing “Cobbold out, Robson out.” He couldn’t hear what they were chanting, so it was up to me to tell him that I didn’t think the fans liked him very much!

“But he and Sir Bobby Robson went on to sort it out. There was a great relationship between the club, the players and the fans. It was all one unit, and I think that has been lost.

“Now, when I go to games and look up at the directors’ box, I struggle to spot even a few familiar faces.”

David Paul is fully aware that the club owes its very existence to the intervention of Mr Evans – when he became owner, just under three years ago, the reclusive multi-millionaire purchased the club’s �32m debts and invested further in the club.

But he does not approve of the isolation of Mr Evans, in terms of his lack communication with fans, or the managerial style of Roy Keane.

“Given my family history, and background, I can’t stand what is happening now,” he continued, “But I’m saying this as a supporter, not as a family member.

“Of course there were many ups and downs, when my uncles were in the chair, but there were more ups. They were respected by most supporters and they put their all into this club.

“The important thing is that the fans are not fools, particularly in Suffolk. My uncles knew this, and always went out of their way to show respect to fans.

“In their day, the club was a happier place all-round. The community spirit was stronger, and I’m not saying this to defend or even promote my family.

“I’m saying this because I think that the ethos of the club has changed completely. They need to be seen to be talking to fans.

“I know we are in a completely different era to that of my uncles, but I also know that they would have been doing things very differently, if they were still here. They would have stuck to their principles, and made sure that the club did not lose money

“For us folk in Suffolk, I don’t think Roy Keane is right for us, and so Mr Evans has to show his worth. And I say that while knowing that without Mr Evans’ money, we would be nothing.

“He needs to stand up and be counted, and engage with fans.

“I am sure that both my uncles would turn in their graves now, at the way the club is being run,” he concluded.

Ipswich Town FC responded with this official statement last night:

“Ipswich Town Football Club is fully committed to continue to play its important and valuable role at the very heart of the local community of Suffolk.

“We understand the rich heritage this Club enjoys and we pay tribute to the characters, including those from the Cobbold family, whose lives are forever positively entwined with our history. Indeed, through our Patron, Philip Hope-Cobbold that connection remains strong today.

“However we operate in a modern football world, where owners are not always present, despite their continued financial and emotional commitment to the Club being clearly on show.

“Simon Clegg, appointed by Marcus Evans as the Club’s CEO, has attended numerous supporter’s club meetings since his arrival at Portman Road. He regularly attends the Supporter’s Forum meetings at the Football Club and through both his and ITFC’s efforts, has supported many local schools, youth groups and local charities in their request for support toward their fundraising efforts by way of ticket vouchers, signed merchandise and other means. This commitment also saw the support of the ‘Help for Heroes’ campaign and the continued selection of the annual ‘Club’ charities.

“In addition the Club’s associated charity, the ITFC Charitable Trust, works with up to 60, 000 children and young people each year in the areas of positive sporting activity, health promotion and educational support. The charity works with a wide spectrum of our community, many facing huge personal challenges and by using the motivational strength of the Football Club, changes many people’s lives for the better.

“We understand the pride all supporters feel when reflecting upon our past, equally we are committed to creating a successful future for Ipswich Town Football Club, while continuing to be a club at the heart of its community.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter