Karl Fuller: Another tick in the McKenna 'to-do' list

Ipswich Town fans outside the ground before the Sky Bet League One match at Portman Road, Ipswich. P

Ipswich Town fans outside the ground before the Sky Bet League One match at Portman Road, Ipswich. Picture date: Saturday March 26, 2022. - Credit: PA

Due to fulfilling a two-year-old promise, I could not be at Portman Road on Saturday – typical.

For one reason or another, I have now missed three home games this season. Two wins and a draw have come out of those games. Not too long ago, I would have said that I need to keep away – I am a bad omen.

In truth, that’s a load of codswallop. My presence or not, we are turning Portman Road into a fortress.

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna punches the air in celebration after his side had secured a 1-0

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna punches the air in celebration after his side had secured a 1-0 victory over Plymouth. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

While I was some 250 miles away at Anfield, I was constantly refreshing Twitter, anxiously hoping that the next drag of my finger on the screen would produce a goal GIF.

I’m sure the lady sat next to me in the Kop was wondering why I was even there. But hey, I am a man who can multi-task.

I was of course gutted to miss Paul Mariner Day. The tributes I have read and heard over the weekend have done him proud – just as I knew they would.

Paul, like Sir Bobby and the Beat before him, touched the lives of many people and left an incredible amount of memories to cherish. And like the two aforementioned greats, memories not just held by Ipswich fans.

In a taxi transporting me to Liverpool’s ground on Saturday, I got talking to the driver and told him that I am an Ipswich fan. He was a few years older than me and talked about the great Ipswich team under Robson when both our clubs were Champions of Europe.

Wes Burns flashes the ball across the box.

Wes Burns flashes the ball across the box. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

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He reeled off our stars and said what a great player Paul Mariner was. I told him that back ‘home’ it was a day to remember Paul Mariner as we faced Plymouth.

I can’t tell you how proud I felt that here I was in such an esteemed city for football, that our name and one of our past heroes was being spoken of in the highest regard.

Beating Plymouth, who sit in fourth-place, now means that Kieran McKenna can tick off the 'to-do' list: ‘to beat a top side’.

Paul Mariner banners on display in the stands ahead of the game.

Paul Mariner banners on display in the stands ahead of the game. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Argyle, remember, came into this game with six wins on the bounce and no goals conceded. The theorists will say they were due to concede and a loss.

The Town fans present tell me that victory was much-deserved. It adds more weight to the future being so bright, whether that will be this season or next.

The win stretches our run to an impressive 11 games without a defeat and nine clean sheets in those games.

Back-to-back months unbeaten too for the first time since the end of 2014. Incredible stuff really.

Bersant Celina congratulates Sam Morsy after he had scored Towns goal.

Bersant Celina congratulates Sam Morsy after he scored Ipswich Town's winner against Plymouth. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

McKenna has really ignited us on the pitch and with another 20,000 plus crowd present, he is yet to manage a home game with an attendance of less than that figure.

Friday’s news that season ticket prices for 2022/23 are being frozen, is very much welcomed as it obviously would be. The club have recognised our support a well as the difficult economic society we are currently living in.

It would have been easy for them to put prices up, even by a nominal amount. Most businesses are finding the need to pass on their own increased costs to their customers and one could argue why should a football club be any different?

After all, it is still in the main, a business. The commitment to purchase season tickets for many fans is often unconditional. Some clubs could and I dare say do, take advantage of that.

Luke Woolfenden in action against Plymouth.

Luke Woolfenden in action against Plymouth. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

But football fans really are not customers. True, I felt like I was just a ‘customer’ of Ipswich in recent years. Now, I sense our owners recognise and value the immense support the club receives as a League One outfit.

A connection has once more been made and we are all in this together now. The club off the pitch are matching the team on it – there is now a structure in place that is driving progress.

The season ticket strapline ‘this is our time’ might just be right. We are heading in the right direction at least.