My favourite Ipswich Town XI: Mike Bacon


Mike Bacon chooses his favourite Town XI - Credit: Archant

In a new feature this summer, MIKE BACON will be chatting to fans to ask them which players make up their favourite Town XI of all time. In this first of the series, Mike tells us who his favourite-ever Town XI would consist of.

Ipswich Town v Arsenal FA Cup final April 1978
Ipswich goalkeeper Paul Cooper after t

Paul Cooper on the Wembley pitch after the 1978 FA Cup final, not with cup in hand, but some sort of fluffy toy! - Credit: Archant

Goalkeeper: PAUL COOPER

Very underrated. Used to save penalties with regularity. He also used to lean to the side of the goal where he was going to dive - and then dive that way! He saved a host of them. 

Paul never got a sniff in the England team with so many top keepers like Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton about. Was he Town's best-ever goalkeeper? Well, I never saw Roy Bailey play, and of course Richard Wright did play for England.

But Cooper was good.


George was an exciting player, a good crosser of the ball. He had a lot of quality. Yes, he was a solid tackler as well, but he created so many chances. Scored a wonderful goal in the 6-1 win at Millwall on the way to Wembley in 1978.

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Missed out on the UEFA Cup final, sadly, because of injury, but I loved his style of attacking full-back play.

STAR NEWSIpswich Town v Arsenal 1978 FA Cup finalAllan HunterNEG 61946-36A

The joy on Allan Hunter's face, right, as he celebrates winning the FA Cup with Town in 1978. And alongside him, the brilliant Kevin Beattie. - Credit: Archant

Centre-half: ALLAN HUNTER

What a man, what a character. Alongside Kevin Beattie, Sir Bobby used to call them 'eggs and bacon'. Hunter was a bit aggressive, I got the feeling some players were scared of him to be honest! Certainly centre-forwards. 'Big Al' was powerful, intimidating, he certainly kept Malcolm McDonald quiet in the Cup final of '78.

I liked his persona, with Allan in the team things were good. And of course the famous song, '6ft. 2, eyes are blue, big Al Hunter's after you'.... used to be sung to opposition forwards by the North Stand. I remember it well!

Russell Osman scored as Town beat Aston Villa in 1981

Russell Osman scores as Town beat Aston Villa in 1981. A season where he never missed a game. - Credit: Archant

Centre-half: RUSSELL OSMAN

Russell was a classy player, and played every game in the 1980/81 season, all 66 of them. He was terrific, carried himself well, was strong and physical. A player I really enjoyed watching. So much was talked about Hunter and Beattie and then Terry Butcher, sometimes I don't think we realised how good a player Osman was in that centre-half role, although Sir Bobby did!

Of course he played for England as well. A smart lad on and off the pitch.

Mauricio Taricco celebrates his goal against Norwich City in 1996

Mauricio Taricco celebrates his goal against Norwich City in 1996 - Credit: Archant


I think many Town fans will agree with this choice. Taricco, what a story. There we all were getting excited that Town were signing this Argentinian striker, Adrian Paz, and along with Paz at the press conference sat Taricco, who sort of looked like he was just there to carry Paz's bags!

But it was Taricco who turned out to be one of the best signings of that era for Town. He loved the club. Scored a cracking goal against Norwich in 1996. Once said he understood the derby games between Norwich and Ipswich, despite being Argentinian. He was a big favourite of mine.

England and Newcastle United's Kieron Dyer during a England Football Squad training session at Woodl

Nippy and quick, Kieron Dyer - Credit: PA

Right midfield: KIERON DYER

Town fans only really saw Kieron for a couple of years but we were lucky to do so. He came through the academy and was sold to help fund more players to enable George Burley to plot our way back into the Premiership.

The few years we saw him, he was delightful. A lovely footballer, could run at people, was fast, nippy. Ipswich through and through. He loved Ipswich and the fans loved him. Many of us followed his career and Dyer was even at Wembley when Town went up in 2000, even though he'd moved on to Newcastle and was training with England at the time.

Centre midfield: JERMAINE WRIGHT

Jermaine was excellent for Ipswich Town. He came into the 1999/2000 team, in place of Kieron Dyer, who had been sold to Newcastle. He was a good player, it was a golden era at the time with Town finishing fifth in the Premiership the year after they got up and he was a key part of it.

He enjoyed a good little career with the Blues. And I enjoyed watching him play, quiet and unassuming, he got the job done.

EADT Flashback March 28Brian Talbot with the cut to his head.EADT 28 03 06

Head cut open, Brian Talbot has just given Town the lead in the 1978 FA Cup semi-final against West Brom, at Highbury. - Credit: Archant

Centre midfield: BRIAN TALBOT

Brian was in the 1978 FA Cup-winning team. He would run and run and run. One of the reasons why he will always be one of my favourite players is because of the goal he scored in the 1978 FA Cup semi-final against West Brom.

It was the opening goal and Talbot clashed heads with John Wile of the Baggies. Talbot needed stitches and couldn't carry on, Wile did with a big white bandage around his head. But that goal, that day, set Town up for victory and an FA Cup final appearance.

Bersant Celina says he would like to still be an Ipswich Town player next season.

Bersant Celina, some wonderful goals for the current Town team - Credit: Steve Waller -

Left midfield: BERSANT CELINA

Bersant has been  a favourite player of mine since first coming on loan at Ipswich. He shone then and is still shining and doing great things for Town now. Has scored some fantastic goals for the Blues over the years, a screamer against Leeds, the brilliant goal against Crewe this season.

A superb footballer and, with all due respect to the current Ipswich team, he would have revelled in the Burley era. He is an entertainer and that's what fans enjoy. My favourite Town player right now. Let's hope we can keep hold of him.

Paul Mariner steers an effort goalbound. Picture: OWEN HINES/ARCHANT

Paul Mariner steers an effort goal bound in the 1978 FA Cup final. - Credit: Archant


One of my favourite Town players of all-time. And one of the best.

What a player, what a leader on the pitch. He would be in my best Town team of all time, all day long. What a great header he once scored against Liverpool. He was just a terrific footballer who matured so quickly at Town after his move from Plymouth. Fans loved him... 'A million miles for one of your goals... Paul Mariner'.

It was so nice to celebrate his life at Paul Mariner Day at Portman Road a few months ago.

Marcus Stewart fired Ipswich Town to a fifth place Premier League finish in 2000/01.

Marcus Stewart His goals fired Town to a fifth-place Premiership finish in 2001. - Credit: PA


I'd loved to have seen this guy player alongside Mariner! Definitely one of my favourite Town players of all time as well.

Maybe I'm being a bit misty-eyed because Marcus used to write a column with me in the Green'Un when I was editor back in 2000. He was a brilliant goalscorer, had his best times with Ipswich and that's why we all remember him, his goals and those gloves! Should have won an England cap, or at least got a call up during his golden spell at Town.

Ipswich Town's manager George Burley with the trophy for Carling Manager Of The Year at the Royal M

Ipswich Town boss George Burley with the manager of the year trophy in 2001. That and 500 appearances for the Blues. - Credit: PA


Everyone rightly talks about Sir Alf and Sir Bobby, but what George Burley did was almost as remarkable. Not only playing 500 times for the club, but then managing them with success back to the Premiership. It's so tough as an ex-player to return to your club and do well. But Burley did it.

He was never going to be Sir Bobby or Sir Alf, but he did so much for the club. Manager of the year 2000/01.

As a journalist, I got on well with George and once had the honour of playing with him (and John Wark) in a charity football game!

Coming up over the summer: More Town fans' favourite-ever Blues XIs.