Karl Fuller: Town games I saw in 2020 offer little resemblance to the mess we continued to be in!


Fans were few and far between at Portman Road in 2020.

First and foremost, please can I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy and healthy New Year.

That feels a bit of a standard statement that we make every year but now it’s paramount more than ever that remaining healthy should be our primary aim for 2021.

Town players celebrate with Freddie Sears, after his goal had taken them into a 2-0 lead against Acc

Town players celebrate with Freddie Sears, after his goal had taken them into a 2-0 lead against Accrington Stanley in October. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

However we can find it, happiness must be found in any shape or form too and, aside from family and loved ones, many of us look to our football team to provide the tonic that our lives badly need. But we must also remember that players and officials should not be placed at risk for the benefit of others. 

I said it last time out, I’ll say it again, I am really not sure where things will head in the immediate future of the game, especially at the level of league one and two clubs.

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For Ipswich, with an injury list as long as your arm that seems no closer to getting any better, I fear what the effects will be of a prolonged period of time off from playing and with no real length of time available on the training field due to positive Covid cases and ensuing isolation periods, our players will be ‘cold’ going into Saturday’s game against Swindon (if it still goes ahead).

Mark McGuinness and Stephen Ward look concerned as Teddy Bishop receives attention.
Picture: St

Mark McGuinness and Stephen Ward look concerned as Teddy Bishop receives attention. Injuries have been a huge blow for Town. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The worry has to be, given our injury record, what further muscular injuries will occur from that situation? I sincerely hope my fears will not come to fruition.

Boy, am I glad to see the back of 2020 for so many reasons, including my life as an Ipswich Town fan.

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For varying reasons, I managed the whole sum of just three games in the calendar year. I have to go all the way back to 1985 for the last calendar year to find as few games frequented. And having attended games every consecutive year since 1978, I hope that 2021 can continue that run at some point.

Luke Woolfenden had an impressive breakthough season. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Luke Woolfenden - got the winner when Town beat Lincoln almost a year ago and went top of the table. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Mind you, the games I did manage to see offer very little resemblance to the overall mess we continued to be in. I saw two wins, a draw, two clean sheets and a total of five goals. There was the 4-1 win over Accrington Stanley followed by a 1-0 win over Lincoln City, a result which sent us back to the top of the league..

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It’s incredible to think that the last time I walked out of Portman Road after a game we were top and all smiling again. Maybe it is my fault that by not being present more, such heady times have not been maintained. The last game I saw in 2020 was one where ‘saw’ is a massive overstatement. It was a game at AFC Wimbledon and the only thing to be seen through my blue-tinted specs was the part of the pitch immediately in front of me which amassed to a single penalty area!

Aside from anything relating to my family and friends, my barometer for any kind of normal life is to be back at Portman Road among a crowd of anything above 15,000 fans but can you honestly say that will be anytime within the next year? I have my doubts but must cling onto the hope that it can happen.

Town fans celebrating at Portman Road. Packed scenes like this won't be seen for some time yet, but up to 4,000 spectators...

Be so nice for us all to be back at Portman Road again - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

And ‘hope’ is what we have been clinging onto for too many years now. I hope for many things to happen at my beloved football club, but at the very least, it will be to play games in a safe environment and produce something worthwhile to shout about.

First up then is one of those ‘live on TV’ games that we all worry about.

We have previously played Swindon live on TV once before and a similar result would be perfect. Anyone remember the 4-1 away victory at the County Ground one Sunday afternoon on August 15, 1999? Two goals apiece for David Johnson and Richard Naylor saw an emphatic win celebrated by Town fans filling both stands behind each goal.

David Johnson scored on this day in 1998

David Johnson, a fine couple of goals for Town on TV against Swindon more than 20 years ago! - Credit: Archant

And if you want another lucky omen to think about, in our four previous live matches played on the 9th day of a month, we’ve never lost! Let’s hope 2021 can get off to a happy new year.