Town's gospel spreading around world
WHILE they may not be making a fortune in marketing terms Ipswich Town support has already gone global as football writer DEREK DAVIS discovers.WITH so many games televised English football is thriving on five continents, and you could probably catch a match on Ice Station Zebra with the right dish or internet connection.
WHILE they may not be making a fortune in marketing terms Ipswich Town support has already gone global as football writer DEREK DAVIS discovers.
WITH so many games televised English football is thriving on five continents, and you could probably catch a match on Ice Station Zebra with the right dish or internet connection.
Usually it is the big four that capture the imagination but there are still many fans that spurn the reds of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal and prefer the blue of Ipswich than Chelsea around the world.
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With 10 branches, 11 if you count the Vikings who serve in Afghanistan and Iraq, made up of nearly 2,000 members the official supporters club abroad is thriving and continues to expand.
It is not just ex-pats who are True Blue, many abroad have been converted once they have seen Town live.
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Barry Calver, who coordinates the overseas branches for the official Ipswich Town supporters Club, is still seeing growth.
Calver said: “A lot of our support abroad dates back to the 1978 FA Cup win and Ipswich became many people's second club.
“Our European success also made a lot of new fans and it is gone on from there.
“Even so I'm surprised how it continues to grow and we have seen a couple of new branches formed just recently.”
Of course not all Town fans around the world belong to official branches, a group of independent supporters recently travelled over from Sweden, but Calver points out the plus points of joining the big happy family.
He said: “By being members the official supporters club is able to send them information, good communications with branches in this country.
“The modern media makes it so much easier for those supporters to feel a part of the club, part of the match-day experience and the supporters club.
“When they do visit we can help them meet with other Town fans and make their trip more fun.
“We are looking to twin branches from abroad with some in England and get more people involved and a lot more interaction.”
With 17 branches dotted around England there is plenty to choose from, although the Northern Ireland branch has already forged strong links with the north-west branch.
New branches continue to start up and there is interest from people in Spain, Italy, Turkey, Corfu and Sweden, along with the Netherlands who amazingly don't have an official branch of its own.
The word is spreading and it doesn't need an extra game in the fixture list to make the Blues popular abroad.
ED Parker runs the Australasian branch from his home in Adelaide and there are 25 members across Australia and New Zealand.
Aussie fans watch Town on Foxtel, the last live game was the Norwich draw at Carrow Road.
It is free to join and a newsletter is sent to around 70 interested readers.
RUN by Uros Zivaljevic, the newest, and most rapidly growing, branch appears to be in Belgrade, Serbia, where they now have 22 members.
Although the original two supporters became interested after seeing Town play Sartid in the UEFA Cup in the tiny town of Smederevo, none have yet been to Portman Road.
They have four honorary members including Blues legend Kevin Beattie and are grateful to the help received by Malcolm Thompson and Edwina Sesto insetting up the branch.
THE North American branch was set up in 2000 after Mick Scrivener and Eric Piazzoni met on a train to London for the play-off final and also includes members from the Caribbean and Canada.
Although they rarely meet up and communicate via e-mail. Some fans based in New York or Los Angeles meet in pubs to watch televised games shown usually by Fox Soccer and Setanta.
A group from the North American branch are coming across next month to watch the Blues at Southampton and then entertain Sheffield United at home.
SOUTH African branch founders Roger Shannon and Chris Reeler initially met over the internet, then a pub in Cape Town and the branch has grown to incorporate members from Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Pietermaritzburg
For one member, Thomas Dancer's biggest claim to fame so far is that he was invited to be the 'Fan on the Phone' on Mark Murphy's Radio Suffolk show when he was over recently visiting Portman Road.
Another abiding memory is Dave and his tractor-boys.com bus that picks up Town fans for free and drops them off by the burger bar opposite the club shop. Or Sir Alf as it is known to the less hungry.
Dancer, who lives in Johannesburg, first became interested in Town in 19993 and invites all Town fans visiting South Africa to contact him at www.itfc.co.za
A LONG and rich tradition of Irishmen playing for Town, not to mention the love of the black stuff, and I don't mean tar, has helped the Northern Ireland branch flourish.
Founded in 1980 by David Doherty, the branch now has 40 members and has a close affinity with the northwest branch.
The Irish were very much in evidence at Blackpool and have organised to be at Portman Road when Norwich City visit in April.
IN Spain's Costa Blanca, David Milldown is close to forming a supporters branch there which will, no doubt, prove popular among Town fans on holiday.
PERHAPS not strictly an overseas branch but with so many Town supporters from the Vikings (1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment) having fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, it gets honorary status.
The Vikings were invited as guests of the club to Town's 3-0 home win over wolves last October with 100 members coming to watch.