Mike Bacon: Luke Woolfenden.... going nowhere, going everywhere
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
What a good week it has been at Portman Road - and we haven't kicked a ball.
The contract news that has been coming thick and fast from IP1 has filled me with joy, not just because of the players that are signing/extending etc. new deals, but the fact Ipswich Town are again a club on the ball.
For far too many seasons it has appeared that players' contracts were winding down, players were understandably getting itchy about their futures. It's not a good situation. I'm glad the club are being so proactive in tying down our best players.
One player I'm especially happy for is Luke Woolfenden.
An Ipswich lad through and through, anyone who knows anything about football could always see he could play. Yet, he's had some torturous moments at Portman Road.
I'll take you back to January 9, 2021 and Town had just lost at home to Swindon Town as Paul Lambert's team continued to faff about in League One, eventually finishing 11th.
After that game, and I remember it well because I stood pitch side, Woolfenden was hauled out before the cameras and press (I can hardly imagine he volunteered) - to face the music.
- 1 'We're going to push back!' - Ashton's message to Norwich City
- 2 Mystery of container ships at anchor off Suffolk coast solved
- 3 Town keen on Leeds left-back Davis
- 4 Man in 40s stabbed at town centre multi-storey car park
- 5 Wooden fence panels stolen from front garden of home
- 6 Go-ahead for 1,000 new homes on controversial site
- 7 Family left homeless after bungalow destroyed in fire
- 8 Police release CCTV images after man suffers broken nose in attack
- 9 NHS 'wargames' collapse of West Suffolk Hospital building
- 10 Ellie uses 4 tonne truck to make impressive entrance at school prom
Yep, the then 22-year-old youngster having to talk to the press after another shambolic Town performance - not a senior player in sight. There were tears in Woolfenden's eyes as he was lost for words on what to say. Remember it?
Well, if you don't remember that, then surely you remember the way Woolfenden was frozen out under Paul Cook?
Training with the u-23s, not getting a look-in. It wasn't as if Town were ripping it up in the table for goodness sake.
“I was looking forward to leaving, the way it was going. I was waking up most mornings and wanting to be anywhere else other than Ipswich," Woolfenden told my colleague Andy Warren in an interview back in March.
What a shocking admission. What a shocking way a talented young Ipswich-born footballer should be feeling. 'One of our own'. And 'one of our own' who we have now watched mature into a class player this season. Patience is a virtue.
Now all and sundry are lauding him for the fact Woolfenden has committed himself to the club until 2025. And so we should. And we should all be very grateful he loves Ipswich Town and the fans to commit himself to a club that has not always made him feel at home.
Luke Woolfenden could easily have said, 'no thanks for now' to an extension after some of his recent experiences, but with Kieran McKenna here, he was never likely to.
“Working with the boss has been great and I am also enjoying my role in the team," Woolfenden said after extending his deal this week.
What a contrast.
We should be grateful to McKenna who has seen the quality in Woolfenden and is developing him accordingly. Maybe Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes may still be here now if McKenna had arrived earlier - then again, I'll park that!
Because if you think Woolfenden would have had no other suitors for his services, you must be dreaming.
Anyhow, that's all behind us and Woolfy is staying with the Blues, and for so many years now, he'll be due a testimonial soon! And he'll love it! It will be a party! And we'll all be invited!
New deals for Wes Burns and Sone Aluko, the options taken out on Tyreece Simpson (be interesting to see how much first-team experience he gets this pre-season), Tawanda Chirewa and a new deal for young Tommy Hughes.
I like the way we are moving. I like the way the club is taking control. It feels all so different to the recent feeling of non-plused, 'take it or leave it', 'we'll get round to you', past.
Our CEO, chairman and new owners know what they want and that is the most refreshing thing about our football club right now. Positivity and strength.
Yes, there's a long way to go and there is no doubt the pressure will be on for the team to start the season well and be play-off material throughout.
I still think League One is going to be a very tough division next season. I notice Town are favourites with one or two bookies for promotion, but I don't buy that at the moment.
However, I'm convinced come the start of the season, we'll have a chance.
A good chance.