‘Demolition derby’ was turning point in my Ipswich Town career’ says ex-Celtic and Feyenoord winger
As derby-day looms ever nearer, one of the main protagonists in the famous Ipswich Town demolition derby has revealed his pride at going down in Blues’ folklore.
Flying winger Bobby Petta scored nine goals in 90 appearances for the Blues over three seasons, but none were more important than the two he scored in the 5-0 thumping of Norwich City in February 1998.
The Dutchman’s feat at Portman Road was overshadowed slightly by the hat-trick exploits of Alex Mathie, but the brace is still fondly remembered by Town fans.
However, prior to the derby, the former Feyenoord man had scored just once in 32 appearances as he struggled to adapt to the rigours of the English game.
“It was great to be a part of that game (5-0) and it’s not until you retire that you look back and see Ipswich Town fans reminding you of those times,” said Glasgow-based Petta, who is now a UEFA A-licensed coach and keen to get back in the game at a professional level.
“It was a turnaround for me in my Ipswich career, I scored two goals and it was a great day.
“We played Norwich off the park and for me it was very good as there were a few fans that were not too sure about me before then.
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“It took time to adapt to the English game and the biggest thing was fitness, I was not fit.
“I was fine with the ball, but the tempo and pace of the game was something I had not really got used to.
“The first year I would think ‘what’s going on?’ But then I did my pre-season and I knew what was expected in terms of fitness and stamina.
“It was a tough first year, but I found my feet. I wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I proved people wrong and showed them what I was capable of.”
Petta moved to Celtic after three years at Portman Road, before finishing his career with spells at Bradford, Darlington and Fulham, but has always had a place in his heart for the Blues.
“I would be delighted to see Ipswich get to the Premier League,” said Petta, who twice lost in the play-offs with Town in the late-Nineties, but was in the squad for three play-off campaigns.
“They have had their ups and downs this season but have always been in and around the top six.
“I hope for the fans and club’s sake that they get there. It would be an amazing experience.”