Sunday Snap: King Paul IV, Holy's eventful day and a year of missing ingredients

Vadaine Oliver scores against Ipswich at Gillingham

Vadaine Oliver scores against Ipswich at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town lost 3-1 at Gillingham yesterday in Paul Cook's first game in charge. Andy Warren looks at the events surrounding the match.

King Paul IV 

Paul number four of the Marcus Evans era has arrived with near universal approval, with Cook the latest man charged with bringing the good times back to Ipswich after Messrs Jewell, Hurst and Lambert failed. 

Things didn’t end particularly well for the previous three, meaning a few eyebrows were raised at the thought of another, but Cook’s track record and first impressions are all extremely positive. 

That didn’t translate to the Priestfield pitch, though, where his new side put in a poor display and came away with nothing following a 3-1 loss. 

Paul Cook after his first game in charge of Ipswich at Gillingham

Paul Cook after his first game in charge of Ipswich at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

That extends the Pauls’ poor record in opening games, with none of the quartet able to claim three points. 

Jewell lost 2-1 at Millwall in January 2011, Hurst rescued a last-gasp draw against Blackburn in 2018 and Lambert’s first game ended with his side failing to beat Preston midfielder Paul Gallagher, who finished the November 2018 1-1 draw between the sticks. 

Paul Cook during his first game in charge at Gillingham talking to Matt Gill and Paul Roberts

Paul Cook during his first game in charge at Gillingham talking to Matt Gill and Paul Roberts - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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Hopefully better times are ahead for this Paul. 

What’s in the cup? 

We’ve learnt a lot about new Town boss Cook in a short space of time. 

We know he’s full of enthusiasm, likes his team to play on the front-foot and is refreshingly honest about his side’s performances. We also know he will barely be able to speak come the end of games. 

But it’s also become clear very quickly that he absolutely loves hot drinks. During the 90 minutes on Saturday is possibly the time he’s been pictured without a cup of steaming liquid in his hand, though he was drinking one during the game after it was delivered by kit man James Pullen just after kick-off. Add that to your list of jobs, James. 

After months of being implored to ‘ask the real questions’ during the final throws of Lambert’s reign, I can confirm myself and Stuart Watson will do everything we can to discover exactly his hot drink of choice. 

My guess is strong coffee with a dash of milk. No sugar. 

Cook’s missing ingredient 

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the last time Ipswich Town played in front of a proper crowd, as they lost 1-0 at home to Coventry. 

The loss at Gillingham was yet another game where a lack of supporters in the ground ripped the soul out of what would otherwise have been a momentous day. 

Can you imagine the atmosphere in Priestfield’s open away end had things been normal? 

Anyone who has been there will know the facilities are somewhat basic to say the least, but it produces a cracking atmosphere. The visit at the start of last season, which Town won 1-0, was a memorable one as a packed away section roared their team on, before captain Luke Chambers felt the full force of Town’s travelling army as he sat with them on the train home. 

Obviously, the result wasn’t the positive one expected and hoped for, but there is still a real sense of optimism in the air. 

That would have been clear at every turn – when the players ran over to the front of the stand after the warm-up, when Cook came out to his dugout for the first time and when Chambers headed home the equaliser. Instead all those moments were greeted by silence (or the sound of moaning from the Gillingham technical area). 

The days of full football grounds can’t come soon enough. 

Tomas Holy signs a shirt during the warm-up at Gillingham

Tomas Holy signs a shirt during the warm-up at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

The Holy Goalie 

Goalkeeper Tomas Holy is clearly a very popular man at Priestfield, where he of course played for two years prior to his move to Portman Road. There’s good reason for that, too, as he’s a kind and warm man who on his day is a very good goalkeeper. 

And he was happy to be back at his old stomping ground, giving team-mate David Cornell a guided tour prior to kick-off as he pointed to all different areas of the stadium and seeming to tell tales of battles past. 

A photographer produced a ‘Holy 1’ shirt for him to sign during a warm-up while there was also a message read out in Czech from the stadium announcer prior to kick-off. Oddly, that message was read again in the seconds immediately after the full-time whistle. Weird. 

Goalkeeper Tomas Holy during the warm-up at Gillingham

Goalkeeper Tomas Holy during the warm-up at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

This wasn’t Holy’s best display, which was maybe foreshadowed during the warm-up as he went through what was a truly-abysmal kicking display as he consistently hooked balls into touch while trying to kick to Cornell, who was standing in the centre circle. A little worrying. 

The giant keeper was left standing for all three goals and had a few other moments which won’t have filled his defenders with confidence. 

After being at fault for Accrington’s opener on Tuesday, he’ll have wanted to give new boss Cook a better first impression. 

Luke Chambers directs his team-mates at Gillingham

Luke Chambers directs his team-mates at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Top 10 

Congratulations to Luke Chambers on his move into sole possession of 10th place in the Ipswich Town all-time appearance list. 

To play 386 games for one club is a wonderful achievement from a player who first moved to Suffolk at the age of 26. 

Clearly it hasn’t gone as well on the pitch as anyone would have liked and the club’s current position in the football pyramid is something that hurts a man of immense pride. What his Ipswich legacy really is will certainly be debated once his time at the club eventually comes to an end. 

Ipswich players celebrate Luke Chambers pulling Ipswich level at Gillingham

Ipswich players celebrate Luke Chambers pulling Ipswich level at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

But for a player to dedicate so much of his career to a club is becoming increasingly rare and you can’t question his commitment, drive and passion, while he continues to merit a starting place under a fifth Town boss. 

His contract is up in the summer, so how much higher he is able to get on the list remains to be seen.  

Jason Dozzell sits ninth on 416, meaning Chambers needs at least another season to move any higher up the list given he can only reach 401 should he play every remaining league game this season. Maybe 404 if the Blues can reach the play-offs. 

Pizza gate 

Just after the second half kicked off, myself and Stuart Watson had our Twitter mentions flooded asking us whether we were ‘enjoying our pizza’. Very confusing. 

It soon transpired that the local BBC Kent commentators, whose feed was being used by iFollow, had revealed ‘the Ipswich media team’ were tucking into a pizza which, it must be said, was not ‘on-brand’ with the EFL’s sponsorship package. 

Sadly ‘the Ipswich media team’ was actually club employees Dan Palfrey, Jacob Henderson and Mikey Hale, who had managed to source some slices from the executive box given over to Ipswich officials for the day. Sloppy seconds, but the old saying goes – never say no to free pizza. 

Andre Dozzell commits a foul at Gillingham

Andre Dozzell commits a foul at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

One more thing

I want to finish by saying Jordan Graham, the two-time Town loanee, is looking a lot like David McGoldrick these days.

The bald head, the beard, the No.10 on his back, the gloves, the swagger and a look of gliding through games while still managing to produce moments of quality.

It's all there.

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