Fuller Flavour: Memories of my favourite festive period as a Town fan
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town columnist Karl Fuller looks back at one of the most memorable festive periods in recent history.
I hope you all had a great Christmas and Santa brought to you everything you wished for. Sadly, he could not bring us a game and three points on Boxing Day. Let’s hope for some festive cheer against Wycombe.
I love attending games around this time of the year. With no game on Sunday to comment on, it gives me a chance to recall perhaps my favourite-ever festive period as a Town fan. We are currently in the middle of the 30th anniversary of Town winning the old second division championship in 1991/92. Personally, I do not believe that this is being commemorated as well as it should be. What a season that was.
This remember, was John Lyall’s second season in charge of the Blues. After a disappointing 14th place finish in his first season, not many of us saw what 1991/92 would deliver. The festive period was to bring treble joy as Town won all three games. In doing so, I believe this cemented our belief that it was going to be our year.
After a 0-0 draw away at Swindon Town which went some way to avenging the earlier 4-1 defeat by Glenn Hoddle’s side, we went into our home Boxing Day match against Charlton Athletic sitting in 6th place. Our improved season was thanks to the smart acquisition of Steve Whitton and the goals of Chris Kiwomya and Jason Dozzell. Whitton however, was suspended for the Charlton game and in came Glenn Pennyfather. A goal in each half by Kiwomya saw us home to a 2-0 win and most of the low crowd of 13,286 went home very happy.
Two days later, as we faced the big-spending Blackburn Rovers, I recall how daunting the task seemed. This was when Jack Walker’s money was starting to propel Blackburn to glory. They finished this particular season getting promoted via the play-off before finishing 4th, 2nd and then winners of the Premier League in its opening first three seasons.
The attendance rose for this big occasion as 17,657 were inside Portman Road which was less than 5,000 short of capacity as it was back then. I took my place on the old North Stand terrace believing that we would really have to be at our best to get anything out of this one.
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The diminutive full-back Alan Wright put Rovers ahead and at the interval, in all honesty, I could see no way back. But just two minutes after the break, a diving header from Gavin Johnson brought us level and the atmosphere creaked up a notch. The North Stand was electric from there on.
As the sky darkened and the air got colder, Town got on top and with just five minutes remaining, Dozzell popped up with the winner to send us into ecstasy. I had gone from a position near the back of the stand to almost being at the front by the time those celebrations died down.
The win moved us up to 3rd and the end of 1991 gave us real hope, enhanced by beating and therefore doubling, the much-publicised Rovers outfit. This was the moment I felt we would be good for promotion.
The start of 1992 saw us to a third consecutive win. A trip to Port Vale brought back some bad memories. Exactly two years earlier to the very day, we had been humbled 5-0. It was thanks to another brace from Kiwomya that we won 2-1. Craig Forrest made a super save near the end to preserve the win. Former Town Goalkeeper Mark Grew was in goal for Vale. The maximum holiday haul meant Town had their best Christmas and New Year for 31 years.
That win lifted us to 2nd place and whilst I had no thought about actually winning the league, promotion from here felt like ours to lose. We lost our next league game to slip to 5th place. But victory in the next saw us back into the top three, where we remained for the rest of the season.
The point where I thought the actual title would be ours would be the 2-1 win at home to Derby County at the end of March which saw us go top, a position we stayed for the rest of the season. What wonderful memories.