Protests, sackings, superstar sponsor, signings galore and a takeover... Town's dramatic 2021 chronicled in full

Ipswich Town have had three managers in 2021 - Paul Lambert (left), Paul Cook (right) and Kieran McKenna (centre).

Ipswich Town have had three managers in 2021 - Paul Lambert (left), Paul Cook (right) and Kieran McKenna (centre). - Credit: Archant

What a dramatic year 2021 was for Ipswich Town. STUART WATSON chronicles the key events. 

Town manager Paul Lambert watching the Swindon Town defeat from Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans exec

Paul Lambert revealed he was close to being hospitalised with Covid-19.  - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller


9th: After the festive fixture list is wiped out by Covid, Town start 2021 in seventh. Their first game of the year ends with a 3-2 home defeat to Swindon in front of the Sky cameras.  

16th: Mark McGuinness’ header secures a 1-0 win at Burton. 

19th: IN - Luke Thomas signs on loan from Barnsley.

20th: IN - Josh Harrop signs on loan from Preston.

22nd: Boss Paul Lambert reveals he was close to being hospitalised with Covid.

23rd: McGuinness’ own goal sees Town lose 1-0 at home to Peterborough.

24th: The EADT and Ipswich Star run a front page saying it’s time for Paul Lambert to go

26th: Kayden Jackson is dismissed early and Ipswich lose 1-0 at home to Sunderland. 

30th: Aaron Drinan’s scruffy goal rescues a 1-1 draw at Crewe. 


February saw Ipswich Town fans protest by setting off flares at Playford Road. - Credit: BlueAction1878 (Twitter)

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1st: Transfer deadline day. IN - Troy Parrott and Luke Matheson arrive on loan from Tottenham and Wolves respectively. 

6th: A youthful Town side beats Blackpool 2-0 at home. "Hopefully this is the turning point," says Lambert.

9th: Lambert switches systems and personnel. Town lose 2-1 at Peterborough.

13th: Town travel to Shrewsbury only for the game to be called off late in the day due to a frozen pitch.

15th: Blue Action supporters’ group protest at Playford Road by letting off flares. It makes national news.    

Football referee and players

Referee Darren Drysdale was charged by the FA after squaring up to Ipswich Town's Alan Judge during a 0-0 draw with Northampton. - Credit: Ipswich Town

16th: Ipswich 0 Northampton 0. The night when referee Darren Drysdale infamously butted his head into Alan Judges’. Lambert fumes that everything about the club's structure is wrong.

17th: The EADT and Ipswich Star reveals that Kayden Jackson and Jon Nolan have been exiled to the Under-23s. Lambert later says ‘they’ve let the club down’, but won’t go into details. 

20th: Ipswich 0 Oxford United 0. "If that’s not a team fighting for me then you’ll never see one," insists Lambert.

23rd: Hull 0 Ipswich 1. James Norwood finishes off a fine Myles Kenlock assist.

26th: The Athletic reports that Town are on the verge of being taken over by a US investment group.

27th: Ipswich 2 Doncaster 1. Norwood scores again. Town move to within two points of the play-off places. "Maybe we are hitting form at the right moment," says Lambert.

New Ipswich Town Manager Paul Cook at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night

Paul Cook watches from the stands at Accrington after being appointed Ipswich Town manager. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


1st: Paul Lambert leaves Ipswich Town by ‘mutual consent’. Owner Marcus Evans states 'significant differences of opinion'. The Scot departs with a record of P113 W37 D28 L48. Assistant Stuart Taylor also goes.

2nd: Paul Cook is appointed as manager. He watches from the stands that evening as Town, under the caretaker management of Matt Gill and Jimmy Walker, cling on for a 2-1 win at 10-man Accrington to move up to seventh. 

5th: Cook says the club has to 'aim for the stars' and that a top-two finish is still a possibility. 

6th: Gillingham 3 Ipswich 1. 

9th: Ipswich 1 Lincoln 1.  

13th: Ipswich 1 Plymouth 0. 

16th: Fleetwood 2 Ipswich 0. 

20th: Portsmouth 2 Ipswich 1. "Mentally we are not as strong as we should be," says Cook.

27th: Wigan 0 Ipswich 0. 

Reaction from the players to going two behind against Northampton Town

Ipswich Town players react during a 3-0 defeat at Northampton. - Credit: Pagepix


2nd: Ipswich 2 Bristol Rovers 1. 

5th: Easter Monday. Rochdale 0 Ipswich 0. Marcus Evans watches stoney faced from the stands.

7th: A momentous day as it’s announced, following much speculation, that the club has been taken over by US-based group Gamechanger 20 Ltd. Evans writes off debts of close to £100m. 

10th: Ipswich 0 MK Dons 0. 

13th: AFC Wimbledon 3 Ipswich 0. 

16th: Cook declares he will be ‘Demolition Man’ and oversee ‘six weeks of pain’. It’s announced that Alan Judge won’t be selected again to avoid triggering a contract extension clause. 

17th: Charlton 0 Ipswich 0. 

20th: Northampton 3 Ipswich 0. 

24th: Ipswich 0 AFC Wimbledon 0. 'We're not far off a Sunday League team that has won a cup to play at Portman Road," fumes Cook.

Luke Chambers in an embrace with Cole Skuse after the final whistle.

Long-serving duo Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse embrace following their final appearances for the club. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c


1st: Swindon 1 Ipswich 2. 

4th: Shrewsbury 0 Ipswich 0. 

6th: It's announced that global superstar Ed Sheeran will sponsor the club's shirts for 2020/21.

Suffolk superstar Ed Sheeran has posted a throwback picture of him in an Ipswich Town shirt after to

In May it was announced that Ed Sheeran would be sponsoring Ipswich Town's shirts. - Credit: Ed Sheeran/Archant

9th: Ipswich 3 Fleetwood 1. Town finish 9th, five points adrift of the play-off places. 

11th: OUT - Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse, Freddie Sears, Alan Judge, James Wilson, Stephen Ward, Emyr Huws and Tristan Nydam are among those released at the end of their contracts

13th: The EADT and Ipswich Star reveals that Cook has told the vast majority of the rest of his squad they are free to find new clubs.

16th: Long-serving captain Chambers says the conversation about him being released was 'quick and to the point'.

Mark Ashton first day 7

Mark Ashton started work as Ipswich Town's new CEO in June. - Credit: Ross Halls


1st: Mark Ashton officially starts as chief executive

3rd: IN - Wes Burns is signed from Fleetwood. 

10th: OUT - Gwions Edwards turns down a new deal to sign for Wigan. 

11th: OUT - David Cornell's contract is terminated. He later joins Peterborough.

15th: OUT - Andre Dozzell is sold to QPR.

Andre Dozzell has signed for QPR in a deal understood to be worth an initial £1m. Photo: QPR

Homegrown midfielder Andre Dozzell was sold to QPR for a fee of £1m. - Credit: QPR

21st: OUT - Oli Hawkins is sold to Mansfield.

23rd: The EADT and Ipswich Star reveals that Flynn Downes, Kayden Jackson, Myles Kenlock, Teddy Bishop, Armando Dobra and Jack Lankester are told to start pre-season training with the U23s. OUT - Academy star Liam Gibbs turns down a new deal to sign for Norwich.

25th: IN - Rekeem Harper is signed from West Brom. OUT - Lankester is sold to Cambridge United.

26th: IN - Macauley Bonne joins on a season-long loan from QPR. 

27th: OUT - Bishop is sold to Lincoln City.

28th: IN - Vaclav Hladky is signed from Salford City. 

Conor Chaplin and George Edmundson are Ipswich Town's newest signings

Conor Chaplin and George Edmundson arrived in July. - Credit: ITFC/Richard Calver


1st: IN - Lee Evans and Matt Penney are signed from Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday respectively after their contracts expire.  

10th: Fans are back! Town start pre-season with a 1-0 win at Dartford.

12th: IN - Joe Pigott joins from AFC Wimbledon after his deal had expired. 

14th: IN - Scott Fraser is signed from MK Dons. 

15th: Ashton reveals the club's 'running towards adversity' motto.

17th: Town lose a behind-closed-doors friendly 2-1 at Fulham.

22nd: A 3-3 friendly draw at Colchester.

24th: Town lose 1-0 to Crystal Palace at Portman Road.

27th: IN - George Edmundson and Conor Chaplin are signed from Rangers and Barnsley respectively. 

31st: The pre-season campaign ends with a 3-0 home loss to Millwall.

Macauley Bonne kisses the Town badge on his shirt after scoring.

Macauley Bonne kisses the badge after scoring on his debut against Morecambe. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller


6th: IN - Sone Aluko and teenager Louie Barry (on loan from Aston Villa) both arrive. 

7th: We're off! There are nine debuts as Town start the season with a 2-2 home draw with newly-promoted Morecambe. Bonne steps off the bench to score a last minute leveller. 

9th: IN - Kyle Edwards (West Brom) and Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough, loan) both sign. 

10th: OUT - Flynn Downes is sold to Swansea. Town exit the Carabao Cup with a 1-0 home loss to League Two side Newport County. 

14th: Scott Fraser fails to convert from the spot when Town are on top. Burton net a penalty of their own to win it 2-1. 

15th: IN - Cameron Burgess is signed from Accrington Stanley.

Bersant Celina is back at Ipswich Town

Bersant Celina joined Ipswich Town on transfer deadline day. - Credit: ITFC

16th: IN - Tom Carroll is signed on a one-year deal. 

17th: Bonne misses a sitter when Town are on top. Blues crumble under late pressure to lose 2-1 at Cheltenham.  

21st: Bonne scores two, including a thumping finish, but both times Town surrender the lead to draw 2-2 at home to MK Dons. 

28th: Another 2-2 home draw. This time a two-goal lead is surrendered against AFC Wimbledon.  

30th: IN - Goalkeeper Christian Walton joins on loan from Brighton. 

31st: IN - Excitement as Bersant Celina returns to the club on loan from French club Dijon. A crazy transfer window then ends in fittingly dramatic fashion as the Blues just about push through a late move for Middlesbrough’s Sam Morsy, Cook landing his former skipper. 

Ipswich Towns Chief Executive Officer Mark Ashton celebrates with fans.

Ipswich Town chief executive Mark Ashton celebrates the 1-0 win at Lincoln. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller


11th: Town are humbled 5-2 at home by Bolton. 

14th: A 2-1 home loss to West Ham U21s in the Papa John’s Trophy extends the winless start to eight matches.


18th: Relief! Town grind out a 1-0 win at Lincoln. Chief executive Ashton passionately celebrates with the away fans. 

25th: Ipswich 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1. He's behind you! A game that will always be remembered for Bonne setting up the winner after lurking behind keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

28th: What a night! Dire Doncaster are dismantled 6-0 under the Portman Road lights. 

Macauley Bonne celebrates his goal against Portsmouth in the first half

Macauley Bonne celebrates on the night Ipswich Town won 4-0 at Portsmouth. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


2nd: Back to earth with a bump. Accrington Stanley 2 Ipswich 1. 

5th: Ipswich 2 Gillingham 0 (Papa John’s Trophy). 

9th: Ipswich 2 Shrewsbury 1. 

16th: Cambridge United 2 Ipswich 2. Another two-goal lead squandered. 

19th: What a night! Portsmouth 0 Ipswich 4! 

23rd: A late winner! Celina scores at the death. Ipswich 2 Fleetwood 1. Back-to-back wins are secured for the first time under Cook’s management. 

30th: Plymouth 2 Ipswich 1. Town lose an entertaining game at the league leaders. Chances go begging. 

Ipswich celebrate Bersant Celina's second score with the fans at Adams Park.

Ipswich Town players are mobbed during the 4-1 win win at Wycombe. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


2nd: What a night! Wycombe 1 Ipswich 4! It feels like lift-off.

6th: Back down to earth again. Virtually the same team plays out a limp 1-1 home draw with struggling League Two side Oldham in the FA Cup first round. 

9th: Progress from the group stages of the Papa John’s Trophy is secured with a 0-0 home draw (and subsequent penalty shootout win) against Colchester. 

11th: The EADT and Ipswich Star reveals James Norwood has been placed on the transfer-list and told to train with the U23s.

13th: In-form Oxford United are left cynically running down the clock to secure a 0-0 draw at Portman Road. 

16th: Idris El Mizouni’s stunning volley sees Town win their FA Cup replay at Oldham 2-1. 

20th: Town control much of the game at Sunderland but are hit by two late sucker punches to lose 2-0. 

23rd: Reality check. Town are out-fought and out-thought in a 2-0 home loss to Rotherham. 

28th: Celina scores an outrageous chip, but the Blues make hard work of a 2-1 home win against lowly Crewe. It’s a nervy finish to the game. 

Town manager Paul Cook pictured during the game.

Paul Cook wa sacked by Ipswich Town following a 0-0 home draw with Barrow in the FA Cup. - Credit: Steve Waller -


1st: A senior Town side exit the Papa John’s Trophy at the hands of Arsenal U21s. The Blues once again throw away a two-goal lead before losing on penalties. 

4th: Paul Cook is sacked following a 0-0 home draw with lowly League Two side Barrow in the FA Cup second round. His record in charge was: P44 W13 D17 L14. Coaches Gary Roberts, Francis Jeffers and Ian Craney also depart.  

Ashton says there will be an ‘extensive search’ for the club’s next boss. John McGreal is made ‘interim manager’. 

7th: A 2-0 loss at Charlton. Town are awful. Unsavoury scenes at the end as Toto Nsiala confronts angry fans

11th: A spirited comeback 1-1 draw at high-flying Wigan. James Norwood scores on his return to the fold. 

15th: A new low. Town exit the FA Cup with a 2-0 defeat at Barrow in front of the ITV4 cameras. The first half is embarrassingly bad. Club legend Terry Butcher says ‘we’re not a big club anymore’. 

New Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna pictured at Portman Road on his first day in the job

Kieran McKenna became the 19th permanent manager in Ipswich Town's history. - Credit: Daniel Hambury/Focus Images Ltd

16th: Kieran McKenna is named as the 19th permanent manager in Ipswich Town’s history. The 35-year-old coach is headhunted after making a name for himself in Manchester United’s first-team set-up under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.  

18th: A bumper crowd of 29,005 are left applauding the team’s efforts after an entertaining 1-1 home draw against Sunderland. Norwood scores again.  

22nd: The scheduled Boxing Day match at Gillingham is postponed.

29th: Town, who sit 11th in the League One table, will host Wycombe in their final game of the year. The record in 2021 thus far reads: P60 W18 D22 L20 F69 A67. The most common scoreline has been... 0-0 (11 times).

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