Gallery: A very FAB farewell

MORE than 7,500 Blues fans bade a fond farewell to Ipswich Town legend Fabian Wilnis and his half-time kick-about threatened to overshadow the main match.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

MORE than 7,500 Blues fans bade a fond farewell to Ipswich Town legend Fabian Wilnis and his half-time kick-about threatened to overshadow the main match.

Wilnis led the teams onto a sun-kissed Portman Road with daughters Jada and Kaylee either side and the reception given him by the Blues crowd was fitting. There may only have been a third of a normal gate but the noise and warmth exceeded that of quite a few home league games last season.

He was allowed the honour of ceremonially kicking off the match before going off to another round of rapturous applause, and of course, 'Fabian Wilnis is a Blue' sang by the North Stand as the real business got underway.

Many of the crowd missed their half-time cuppa to stay and watch a short-sided match that included such greats as

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John Wark, Martijn Reuser, John McGreal, Darren Currie, Hermann Hriedarsson, Kevin Beattie, Frans Thjissen, Jason Dozzell, Kevin Horlock, Micky Stockwell, Simon Milton, Sylvain Legwinski, and a tremendously fit looking Kieron Dyer.

It was the England international's pace that took him clear for the first goal as he cut the ball back for the goal-hanging Simon Milton who tapped in.

Wilnis played the fist half in a blue shirt, the second for the Whites, with all the outfield players wearing the number two in his honour.

The White's equalised after good work from Currie and Reuser set up Dennis Taylor, one of Fab's committee members, to knock in.

Hriedarsson blazed high wide and not so handsome before the Blues won it with a winner from another committee member as Duncan Foster finished with aplomb from a Dyer pass.

Wilnis got 11 minutes at the end of the main game as Town beat Colchester United 2-0 and did not look out of place although he swears he has packed in English football for sure.

Wilnis said: “The whole atmosphere was brilliant and it is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

“The half-time game was very enjoyable and getting on for the last 11 minutes with the real team was great fun.

“I felt at home, it was as if I have never been away it felt so natural.”

It was a wonderful way for Wilnis to bow out and he expressed his gratitude to Town fans and everyone else who has helped him over the years.

Wilnis said: “I had a wonderful time and the support I received was magnificent. All careers have highs and lows but the highs definitely outweigh the lows buy a long way.”

“I never expected to be here so long. I thought I would be here three but to be here 10 is incredible and credit to the club for sticking by me.

“I have to thank them, the supporters and Roy Keane for making it all possible.”

Although his playing days in England are over wilnis would not rule out a return to football in his native Holland.

He added: “Never say never but the first thing for me is to have a break clear my mind and then from September onwards I will see what happens.”

Wilnis' autobiography “Full English' is out now priced at �16.99.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk