Curse of the Bridge

IPSWICH Town are due some luck at Stamford Bridge.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town are due some luck at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea's home ground is without doubt Ipswich's most unsuccessful away venue, with the Suffolk club coming up against a succession of disasters of one sort or another.

And, with their history of dreadful luck, it would fit the bill if superstar Didier Drogba came back into the Chelsea fold with a bang tomorrow.

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The Ivory Coast striker has been left out of the Premier League side's last two games but is earmarked to face Town in an eagerly- awaited fourth round FA Cup tie (kick-off 3pm).

The odds are stacked against Jim Magilton's side at any rate, with a mid-table Coca-Cola Championship side taking on one of the contenders for the coveted Premier League title.

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But once you add Town's record in west London, their task looks impossible. Unless, that is, their luck starts to even out.

In two previous FA Cup games at Stamford Bridge, Ipswich have failed to score a single goal, losing 3-0 in the third round in 1967/68 and 2-0 in the fourth round in 1972/73 when the likes of Mick Mills, Allan Hunter and Kevin Beattie were all over Chelsea but still lost.

And two of the biggest injustices in the history of English football have involved Town at Chelsea.

One came in the FA Cup in April 1975 when referee Clive Thomas disallowed what appeared to be a couple of perfectly legal Ipswich goals in a semi-final replay 2-1 defeat against John Lyall's West Ham.

Alan Taylor netted twice for the Hammers but Town fans who were there are still wondering why two strikes from Bryan Hamilton were disallowed with no obvious explanation as to why. Possibly offside - although recordings show this isn't the case in either situation.

A Pat Jennings own goal was all Town had to show for their efforts - with the heartbreak of getting so close to Wembley hard to take.

And a league game in September 1970 saw Chelsea score a goal through Alan Hudson that clearly wasn't.

Referee Roy Capey was the only person in the ground who thought the low shot had entered the net when it clearly struck the side stanchion and rebounded back on to the pitch.

Chelsea won the First Division game 2-1, with Peter Osgood grabbing their other goal and Frank Clarke netting for Town.

Add the unforgettable 1971 Christmas fixture when defender David Webb played 90 minutes in goal for Chelsea in a Division One fixture and Town still lost 2-0, and the unfathomable sending off of John McGreal by Andy D'Urso in the Premiership in January 2001 and Town's woes in west London mount up.

And giving Town a warning of what could be to come to add more Town misery at Stamford Bridge, Drogba said: “I've not played for the last two matches and I'm in a hurry to return to my best level and be a first-team regular again.

“If you look back to last May, I've been out for four to six months and it has been very difficult for me.

“But now I feel in top form. I know what I am capable of doing and the real satisfaction for me is that my knee is completely right.”

Ipswich beware, but could the luck change? See Monday's Evening Star for the answer.

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