'The support has been immense... we wanted to give something back' - Morsy on players' ticket donation

Sam Morsy applayds fans after the game.

Sam Morsy applauds Ipswich fans after the 2-1 home win against Shrewsbury. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller - stephenw

Ipswich Town's staff and players have joined a fans-led fundraising campaign to help 'Pack out Portman Road' over the festive period. STUART WATSON spoke to skipper Sam Morsy.

Christmas is coming - and there's certainly a warm fuzzy feeling surrounding Ipswich Town right now.

This time last week the club announced their 'Pack out Portman Road' campaign. Slashing ticket prices for the festive home fixtures against Sunderland (Sat, Dec 18), Wycombe (Weds, Dec 29) and Lincoln (Sat, Jan 1) - an adult can attend all three for as little as £40 - was designed to give the team an extra boost at a crunch point in the campaign.

No-one could have foreseen how things would snowball from there.

First, Town supporter Matt Cattee wrote on Twitter that he was prepared to buy a three-game bundle to ‘make someone's Christmas’. Others soon said they would match the gesture and, with Town fan Richard Moss co-ordinating, donations soon reached £12,500. The tickets bought with that money will be distributed by the Volunteering Matters charity.

Ipswich Town's American owners Brett Johnson, Mark Detmer, Berke Bakay, Mark Steed and Ed Schwartz were all moved to back the campaign ahead of their eagerly anticipated group trip over the pond for that Sunderland match.

Very soon, the Blues' first-team players and staff were getting involved themselves.  

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Yesterday afternoon, the club announced that ticket sales for the Sunderland game had already reached 22,752. Taking season ticket holders (around 13k) and the away allocation (around 2k) out of the equation, that means that almost 8,000 match day tickets have been snapped up in less than a week.

"It's a great initiative," enthused Town skipper Sam Morsy. 

“I speak to (chief executive) Mark Ashton quite a lot and I know what he wants to do with this club. We spoke about the campaign that was growing and then I suggested it to the players. Straight away they were all up for it and all wanting to do it. 

“So the players, out of their own pockets, will be buying a block of tickets that will be donated to the fans who might otherwise have had difficulty getting there. 

“I don’t know how many that will be yet, but there’s going to be quite a few!

“The support has been immense and we just wanted to give something back and help people who would otherwise have found it difficult to come to the games over that festive period and for them to enjoy the atmosphere."

Town fans out in force at Cambridge.

Town fans out in force at Cambridge. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich's average home league attendance so far this season has been 19,789, with 21,322 watching last weekend's goalless draw with Oxford United. 

Thousands have travelled to the likes of Lincoln, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Wycombe, with the away allocation quickly snapped up for the upcoming trips to Sunderland (2,000) and Charlton (3,159).

“I didn't realise the size of the fanbase before I came to this club," admits Morsy, who's previously played for Middlesbrough, Wigan, Chesterfield and Port Vale. 

“I knew historically it was a massive club. I knew it was a bit of a sleeping giant. I knew the last few years hadn’t gone well. But the fanbase has been a great surprise to me.

"The support has been immense and all the lads are enjoying it. We’re all really feeling the love. 

“Initially we didn’t start well, but the fans were still coming out in their numbers and staying really, really positive.

Ipswich celebrate Bersant Celina's second score with the fans at Adams Park.

Ipswich Town players and fans celebrate Bersant Celina capping off a 4-1 win at Wycombe - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

"It would have been easy for fans to get on the players’ backs and start booing at that time. Listen, we could have had no complaints. But they stuck with us and we appreciate that.

“For me, the first moment I realised was when we played Doncaster. We hadn’t won at home all season, we were in the relegation zone and there was 20,000 on a Tuesday night. That’s when I thought ‘wow’, this is a serious, serious fanbase.

“The gaffer always references it. In his team talk the other night against Oldham he was saying ‘we can’t do this to our fans, we need to win’."

Asked how big a difference the fans can make to a performance, Morsy said: "Massive. I think an example would be Fleetwood, where they undoubtedly helped us get that late winner. Even in the FA Cup tie against Oldham, where admittedly we were all poor on the day, they stayed with us. 

“Again, it was a great atmosphere against Oxford last weekend. We’re finishing games really strong and the fans are a massive help with that.

“This season the fans are going to be a huge part of our success, for sure." 

Conor Chaplin celebrates his opening goal with the supporters

Conor Chaplin celebrates his opening goal with the supporters - Credit: Ray Lawrence

The Egyptian international continued: "Slowly but surely we’ve climbed that table.

"Hopefully we’re slowly starting to make the fans proud and give them a team they love to scream and shout and cheer for. 

“We’ve got them a couple of big results on the road at Portsmouth and Wycombe. When we had a tough game at Plymouth we got clapped off because they could see the effort. 

“That’s what it's all about really.  

A disappointed George Edmondson applauds the travelling supporters at Home Park.

A disappointed George Edmondson applauds the travelling supporters at Home Park. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

“We can’t ever guarantee a result, but we can guarantee energy, endeavour and giving it our all. That’s the main thing. In football you really can’t guarantee results, but you can guarantee your commitment and what you’re willing to give for the football club. 

 "It’s just about building that togetherness. When you build that strong energy, within the town, within the training ground, it starts to propel you, you get momentum and everyone loves being a part of it. That’s how successful teams are formed. 

“The big goal is to get higher up the league. Once you propel yourself into the play-off positions, which is hopefully only a couple of games away, then all of a sudden it just builds a stronger following, people get more excited and you create a fortress at Portman Road. 

“We know we have to keep giving people something to cheer about on the pitch."

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