Why Town owners are demanding players 'run towards adversity'

Firefighters tackle the Backbone Fire near Strawberry, Arizona last month. Photo: Inciweb

Firefighters tackle the Backbone Fire near Strawberry, Arizona last month. Photo: Inciweb - Credit: Inciweb

As temperatures once again soar, wildfires once again rage across the west of America. 

In Arizona, a small plane crashed on Saturday, killing both crew members on board.  

The Beech C-90 aircraft was helping perform reconnaissance over the lightning-caused Cedar Basin fire, which was sparked by lightening near the tiny community of Wikieup, north-west of Phoenix, when it went down around noon. 

Officials identified the victims as Jeff Piechura, 62, a retired Tucson-area fire chief who was working for the Coronado national forest, and Matthew Miller, 48, a pilot with Falcon Executive Aviation contracted by the US Forest Service.  

These are the sort of heroes that Ipswich Town represent now... 

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Whenever a football club changes ownership, the first response of many is to go all Jerry Maguire. 

Answering the ‘show me the money!’ calls at Ipswich Town was Mark Steed, a mysterious American with fabulous facial hair.   

Steed is the Chief Investment Officer for the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System.  

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That means he carefully decides where to place the monthly pension contributions of around 60,000 police, firefighters, ambulance and rescue workers so that they can ultimately enjoy a very well-earned retirement.  

And, after seeing what Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer had achieved at Phoenix Rising (in Arizona’s capital city), he felt their desire to expand into English football was a horse worth backing given it was a market he had already been eyeing. 

“God have mercy on League One, because we won’t!” Steed wrote on Twitter, addressing the fans of a football club more than 5,000 miles away.  

And when asked by one supporter whether the financial resources were there, he replied: “Our fund is $13 billion and we’re holding $700m in cash. So, yeah?” 

After years of austerity measures under previous owner Marcus Evans, the temptation was to run to the nearest pub, climb onto the bar and make it rain with dollar bills. 

Such a gaudy display of public money waving had occurred when Mr Evans arrived with some big bucks in 2009 though and that didn’t age well.

Town’s new owners, refreshingly open and engaging from across the pond, were keen to stress how their vision to ‘wake a sleeping giant’ was just as much about culture as it was capital. 

Ipswich Town's new co-owners Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer. Photo: Contributed

Ipswich Town's new co-owners Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Contributed

Mark Detmer outlined the family values which underpin everything, while fellow co-owner Berke Bakay has said money will be spent in 'a smart, intelligent, not wasteful manner'.

Yes, there’s big money behind the club now, but there’s a big responsibility too. And it’s being taken very seriously. 

“When we sign a player, or a staff member joins us, there’s a conversation about culture and behaviours,” said Mark Ashton, the man head-hunted from Bristol City by the new owners to drive the club forwards as CEO.  

“They are all told that the fund that pays our salaries, and the fund that will finance this football club going forward, comes from US fireman, people in the ambulance service, policeman – those type of human beings. 

“Every single day those people those people have to run towards danger. They have to run towards adversity. That’s what they do. 

“One of the things that Mark Steed said to me in the early days is that I want everyone at the club to understand that they represent those type of people.” 

Firefighters head to tackle the Alamo Fire west of Nogales, Arizona. Photo Inciweb

Firefighters head to tackle the Alamo Fire west of Nogales, Arizona. Photo Inciweb - Credit: Inciweb

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Arizona is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of America’s 50 states. Its landscapes and people are diverse. 

About one quarter is made up of Indian reservations and there’s a significant number of Hispanics due to migration from Mexico to the south. 

Bordered by Nevada and California to the west, Utah to the north, Colorado to the northeast and New Mexico to the east, the south of the state is known for its desert climate, while the north features forests, mountain ranges, the Grand Canyon and ski resorts. 

There are more than seven million residents to protect.

Last month, a Scottsdale police officer was deliberately struck by a pickup truck during a traffic stop. The suspect then reportedly stole an ambulance to flee the scene. 

That officer only suffered minor injuries, but many are not so fortunate. Already this year, there have been 162 line of duty deaths in Arizona.  

“We have to run towards adversity,” repeated Ashton. 

“There’s no good a player coming to me moaning that the training ground pitches aren’t correct, or the strip’s not good enough, or we haven’t sold enough tickets, or the buses aren’t of a high enough quality...  

Mark Ashton first day 9

Ipswich Town's new CEO, Mark Ashton - Credit: Ross Halls

“Remember where the money comes from. Remember where our salaries come from.  

“They run towards adversity. They deal with danger. Understand what we’re representing and who we’re representing. 

“I think that’s really powerful. 

“When I’ve spoken to players about it, be it James Norwood, Rekeem Harper or Wes Burns, they’ve all gulped. 

“And I promise you, these aren’t just words. We will live by those behaviours.” 

Wes Burns and Mark Ashton

Mark Ashton (right) says early summer signing Wes Burns was one of the first people to hear his message about club culture. Photo: ITFC - Credit: Ipswich Town

Ashton, speaking passionately on our Kings of Anglia podcast, added: “I am so proud to be here, I am privileged to have been given the opportunity to lead this football club and I promise you I will give everything I’ve got to take this football club forward. 

“I’d like to thank the supporters for the way they have welcomed me and my staff over the last four or five weeks. 

“We can’t do this unless we are all together. We can’t. 

“The club is well funded, but we have salary cap protocols that we have to live to. The more season tickets we sell, the more shirts we sell, the more corporate seats we sell, the more fans we get in this stadium means the more we can spend on players. It’s as simple as that. 

“So I would simply thank the fans, thank the 12,000 plus that have re-signed season ticket wise for next season, thank the amazing supporters who have gone and bought the shirts, thank everyone for what they’ve done thus far. 

“Come on the journey with us. We need you with us. We can only do it together. Come on, let’s get this done."

James Norwood in action during the pre-season friendly against Dartford

James Norwood throws himself at a cross in last weekend's friendly win at Dartford. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd


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