Videos: Ipswich Town fans achieve ‘every boy’s dream’ in Portman Cup
Now in its fourth year, the Portman Cup offers fans the chance to sample a little of the life of a professional footballer, culminating in a 90-minute match at the home of Ipswich Town. DAVE GOODERHAM went along to find out what it meant to the participants.
But whatever their motive, the 30 Town fans who entered the Portman Cup on Wednesday were treated like Championship players as the annual event went from strength-to-strength.
Using the home and away dressing rooms at Portman Road, managed by former Town stars, walking out onto the turf with their names read out over the tannoy before three 30 minutes of action.
Throw in a DVD of the game, Town shirts with a name and number on the back and an all-inclusive penalty shoot-out in front of the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand and it was a certainly a case of money well spent for all the participants.
None travelled further than father and son, Russell and Marc Smith, who thought nothing of arriving in Suffolk from their home in Germany - 500 miles away.
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And their dream-come-true day was complete when Smith Junior hit the goal-of-the-game, a cracking 25-yard shot that hit the underside of the bar and went in during the 6-2 win for the ‘home team’.
Speaking before his son’s contender for home goal of this season, Russell said: “I have spent 24 years in the Army but remained an ardent Ipswich Town supporter.
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“When I got the letter about the Portman Cup, me and my son decided we were going to come and play.
“It (Portman Road) is bigger than I thought. It is a fantastic day and well worth coming over 500 miles.”
Playing in the Portman Cup for the first time was Zach Ward, from Horringer, near Bury St Edmunds, whose ‘away team’ found themselves 6-0 down after an hour before a brave rally saw them hit back with two goals in the final third.
Ward said: “Every kid who comes here and supports the Town dreams of scoring in front of the North Stand and to play here is a bit of a dream.”
The scoring was opened by Jonny Cracknell, a third-year ‘veteran’ of the Portman Cup and a massive Town fan despite living in Norwich.
When asked where he rated his volleyed opener, which he celebrated by going into the Britannia Stand and kissing his 12-week-old daughter Mia, Cracknell replied: “It is the second best feeling to having a child – and getting married of course.
“I promised before the game if I scored, she would get a kiss – that was for her. It is every boys’ dream to play for their football club.”
For the record, the home team goalscorers were Cracknell, Nick Sudds (2), Stuart Wilson, M Smith and Steve Harding while Martin Swallow scored both for the away team.
Home squad: Andrew Chapman, Pete Bennett, Gary Young, Kevin Boyles, Simon Rees, Rob Atherton, Steve Harding, Nick Sudds, Marc Smith, Russell Smith, Lee Crouch, Luke Fry, Jonny Cracknell, Darren Fry, Stuart Wilson
Away squad: Zach Ward, Jimmy Simmonds, Rory King, Graeme Spooner, Phil Ham, Ben Frost, Martin Swallow, Ryan Hunt, Mike Dove, Richard Moss, Steve Birks, Jarrord Ellis, Nicholas Hunt, Matt Hope, Dan Frost