Pull your finger out, jokes Town stalwart

IPSWICH TOWN: The club’s much-loved elder statesman spoke for Blues fans everywhere when he looked at the club’s players and joked: Pull your finger out!

Philip Hope-Cobbold spoke at the club’s annual barbecue at his ancestral home, Glemham Hall, and drew a response from chief executive Simon Clegg.

Clegg, who has not yet persuaded any new blood to join Roy Keane’s squad for the 2010/11 season, replied: “Hopefully the players will respond.”

Director Hope-Cobbold - a nephew of former Blues chairmen John and Patrick Cobbold - has confirmed his support for the way that 21st century business mogul Marcus Evans is running the Championship club.

Now club patron and a director on the plc board, Hope-Cobbold shares the family sense of fun that helped to distinguish Ipswich Town as a special identity among their peers.

The unique way the Cobbolds ran the club created a special relationship that led to managers like Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson enjoying such great success at the club.

Things are much different now, but Hope-Cobbold supplies the link.

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He sees the need for a modern-day approach in these days when football is big business, and he said: “We must look ahead to a better season than the last one.

“And we must not forget the role that Marcus Evans is playing to keep this great club functioning as it is.

“We have a good manager and we must get behind him and his players.”

Hope-Cobbold was talking at the traditional club barbecue held at the grounds of his Glemham Hall residence, and an event that remains from the time his two uncles had control of Ipswich Town from 1957 until 1991 with John chairman for 19 years and Patrick for 15.

And in a typically family style he brought amusement among the playing staff when he looked at them and in jest said: “Get your fingers out.”

Hope-Cobbold is aware of the financial cushion and importance that multi-millionaire Evans and his group now offers the club and that Ipswich Town would struggle to function in the manner of his uncles’ time in charge.

Town chief executive Simon Clegg again confirmed that he is under a certain amount of pressure to off-load players from the wage bill.

But he did not rule out the okay being given by the owner if the right player to help make Town promotion contenders came along.

“There is nothing likely to happen for a while,” said Clegg.

“But we have players we are looking at and if it was thought they would make a big difference – and the price was right – a deal could be struck without having to clear the decks first.”

And carrying on from Hope-Cobbold’s jokey comments, Clegg added: “Hopefully the players will respond.”

Town set off for Holland tomorrow in readiness for their game against former European champions PSV Eindhoven on Saturday when the kick-off will 19.00 Dutch time.

On Saturday afternoon, a young Ipswich side plays Ridgeons League Great Yarmouth at Wellesley Road with a 3pm kick-off time.

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