Town’s once proud FA Cup record has been trashed in recent years – Carl’s Travels with Town
Football writer Carl Marston traces Town’s miserable FA Cup exploits of the last decade, such a contrast to the Club’s fine FA Cup pedigree
Hhaving been brought up on a diet of Ipswich Town success, during the 1970s and early 1980s, I have always found it difficult to stomach the club’s recent dire record in the FA Cup.
And that goes for the way that the club has often treated the competition, not just the depressing results that have followed, year after year.
The FA Cup is so low on the list of priorities of so many clubs these days, but for a club like Ipswich, I can never understand why.
That was especially the case under Mick McCarthy when under-achieving Town, already resigned to a season of forgettable mid-table fare in the Championship, would field a ridiculously under-strength team to almost certainly ensure a rapid exit from the FA Cup.
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What was wrong with trying to spice up a flagging season by enjoying an exciting run in the FA Cup? A bit of extra cash, some much-needed cheer plus something to look forward to, for long-suffering supporters, and even the potential to rescue a lack-lustre season with the momentum that can often come off the back of an inspiring cup run.
In short, I have always believed that Town should treat the FA Cup with the respect it deserves, especially on the back of their famous cup-winning exploits of 1978 (1-0 win over Arsenal in the Wembley final), and reaching the quarter-finals (twice) and semi-finals (1980-81) over the following three years.
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Ironically, one of my first FA Cup ties while regularly reporting on Ipswich Town did coincide with a rare victory, a 2-1 win at Blackpool in a third round tie in 2010.
But since then, ashamedly, the club have won just one FA Cup tie in 10 years, spanning 18 matches.
Hopefully, that record can be improved, starting with this afternoon’s first round tie at home to fellow League One club Portsmouth.
But the magic of the FA Cup? I’m fast forgetting what that feels like.
Thrashing at Chelsea
I didn’t fully appreciate the 2-1 win over Blackpool in early 2009 – it would be another 10 years before Town won in the FA Cup again.
The following 2010-11 featured the most ‘memorable’ cup exit of recent times, when I needed a calculator and a stiff drink in the Stamford Bridge press box before writing up an account of a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea.
Managerless Town, with Ian “Charlie” McParland as caretaker, were destroyed in one of the most one-sided encounters I have witnessed. It could have been a far worse scoreline, and it’s easy to forget that it actually remained 0-0 for the first half-hour!
The following (2011-12) season, Paul Jewell’s men lost 3-1 at Hull City, Jason Scotland netting against the Tigers, who had Nicky Barmby at the helm as caretaker.
The lean McCarthy years
Town produced one of their best Cup displays of the last decade, during McCarthy’s first season at the helm (2012-13).
It was certainly no disgrace to lose 2-1 at ASTON VILLA, managed by present-day boss Paul Lambert. Darren Bent netted the equaliser against his old club to spare Lambert’s blushes, with Andreas Weimann scoring a late winner.
But otherwise, McCarthy’s FA Cup campaigns were deeply depressing.
Substitute Joe Garner scored a hat-trick as PRESTON beat Town 3-2 in a third round replay in 2013-14, while Shane Long ensured there would be no cup upset by scoring the winner for high-flying Southampton in a Portman Road replay, a 1-0 away win for the Saints in 2014-15.
Town’s class of 2015-16 lost 2-1 at today’s visitors PORTSMOUTH in another third round replay, and it got worse when McCarthy’s men lost 1-0 at the hands of then non-league Lincoln City in another replay in 2016-17.
The 2017-18 season featured a 1-0 home loss to Sheffield United – Town did not muster a shot on target that day – Nathan Thomas blazing home a long-range winner.
Town’s miserable run in the FA Cup continued with a 1-0 defeat at ACCRINGTON STANLEY in 2018-19, Billy Kee the marksman against relegation-doomed Town, before it appropriately ended more in relief than triumph, via Alan Judge’s 94th minute winner in a first round replay at Lincoln City last term.
That last-gasp 1-0 win was followed by a second round replay defeat to Coventry City.
Town are due an FA Cup run!