Karl Fuller: A season in the sun. 'One of the best Ipswich performances I have seen on the road'

A delighted John McGreal celebrates his first Ipswich Town goal, during the 3-0 win at Everton in Se

One of the best-ever Town away performances Karl Fuller has seen in more than 40 years of supporting the Blues. John McGreal celebrates scoring at Everton in 2000, when Town won 3-0 at Goodison Park - Credit: Archant

Without a doubt, the 2000/01 season ranks right up there with the very best in my 42 years of supporting Ipswich Town.

After winning the play-off final the season before, I never really considered what life back in the Premiership would actually hold and boy, was it to become a season of real highs.

When Mark Venus scored the Premiership’s first goal of the season in the ninth minute away at Tottenham, it kind of set the tone for so many things to enjoy despite us going on to lose that game 3-1.

Nearly took all four roofs off Portman Road. Fabian Wilnis scores against Man Utd in 2000. Photo: AR

Fabian Wilnis sent Portman Road bonkers when he scored against Manchester United in Town's opening Premiership game of the 2000/01 season. A David Beckham equaliser saw it finish 1-1 - Credit: Archant

Our credentials were put to the test in the next game which we came through with a draw at home to Manchester United where only a typical David Beckham goal from a free-kick cancelling out a Fabian Wilnis screamer, prevented us from taking all three points.

We had proved that we were going to be able to live with the best.

GEORGE BURLEY: My season in the sun memory....That Anfield joy

An outstanding memory for me came on the last day of September.

I was part of the supporters club that made our way to Merseyside for the weekend. Anyone who ever took part in one of these trips would know how great they were.

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After a guided tour of Liverpool city centre followed by a few drinks alongside the River Mersey, we made our way to Goodison Park in good spirits to watch Town take on an Everton side that included Paul Gascoigne.

Matt Holland celebrates Ipswich's third at Everton back in 2000, with goalscorer Marcus Stewart. Goo

Marcus Stewart celebrates at Goodison Park in 2000. And Karl Fuller was there! - Credit: Archant

What ensued was one of the best Ipswich performances that I have ever seen on the road, as we won 3-0.

When Marcus Stewart tucked away his second and our third, the Everton fans left the ground in droves and there was still half-an-hour left to play.

MATT HOLLAND: 'My favourite season ever'

Although in fairness the ones that stayed gave our boys a big round of applause. I'll never forget that.

The following day we had a tour of Goodison Park which, at first, the tour guides were not too happy undertaking due to our emphatic win.

One of our group, ‘naughty’ Stuart Vernon had great fun in attaching pegs to people in those days and every now and then, a tour guide would pass with a peg attached to the back of their blazer.

Karl Fuller, centre, with his pals in Harry's Bar in Helsingborg back in November 2001. Picture: KAR

Karl Fuller, centre, with his pals in Harry's Bar in Helsingborg back in November 2001. Picture: KARL FULLER - Credit: Archant

They never could work out what we were laughing at.

But it was on the day of our next game two weeks later that changed my life.

After another Stewart goal saw us earn a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham, I went to my local that evening and met a girl who would later become my wife – another bonus to remember such a great season by.

MARCUS STEWART: Dropping in the Panenka at Southampton during that 'season in the sun'

Five wins from the next six games elevated us to third in the table and little old Ipswich were taking everyone by surprise, with another highlight being a 3-2 win away at Manchester City.

Then, perhaps the result of the season came with another superb individual effort from Stewart seeing us win 1-0 at Liverpool.

Cool as a cucumber. Marcus Stewart nets Town's winner at Anfield, in December 2000

The result of the season during that campaign - a 1-0 win at Liverpool, as Marcus Stewart strikes the only goal - Credit: Archant

In those days, I used to undertake player interviews for the fanzine ‘Those Were The Days’. I had requested to the club to interview Marcus Stewart towards the end of the 1999/00 season.

My request was eventually granted but I did not get to interview him until well into 2000/01 when every other news outlet in the country wanted a piece of him!

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He was great to talk to and after rumours of him loving fridge magnets had surfaced, I’m not sure what he thought of me handing over one from Clacton-on-Sea!

Another great memory was the 3-0 win away at Southampton in April where Stewart scored a sublime hat-trick.

I was away on holiday at the time and the week began superbly for me as I had a chat with the great Kevin Beattie on the Monday, as I organised an interview with him - and two days later, I got engaged.

George Burley's Ipswich Town finished fifth in the top flight in 2000/01. Picture: PA

George Burley, the Town manager that season, who led Ipswich to a brilliant fifth-placed finish and a place in Europe. He was voted manager of the year. - Credit: Archant

As we left the ground after the last home game of the season that saw us beat Manchester City 2-1 to relegate them, I had the seated part of my season ticket seat tucked inside my jacket.

Not only a memento from the old North Stand before it was pulled down, but also, a wonderful souvenir to remember such a great season by.

George Burley's super Ipswich team had qualified for Europe to bring a whole new adventure for us to enjoy the next season. But that's another story.....


UP NEXT: John McGreal and his memories of beating both Everton and Liverpool on their own patch - and in front of his fellow scouse mates!

WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES? What a season it was. Let me know your favourite times that campaign.

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