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Fuller Flavour: Helsingborg UEFA Cup adventure was trip of a lifetime

04 November, 2019 - 17:00
Karl Fuller, centre, with his pals in Harry's Bar in Helsingborg back in November 2001. Picture: KARL FULLER

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

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Much of the Town topic on Twitter and beyond over the weekend centred around the 18th anniversary of our wonderful away trip to Helsingborg in the UEFA Cup back in the 2001/02 season, writes Karl Fuller.

Ipswich Town's Sixto Peralta in action against Helsingborgs in 2001. Picture: PA SPORTIpswich Town's Sixto Peralta in action against Helsingborgs in 2001. Picture: PA SPORT

It was a trip that will live long in my memory as being one of the best-ever. I recall going from Clacton with three of my friends, one of whom was on a separate flight to three of us having taken on the match and flight tickets from another friend who could not go at the last-minute and whose flight was taking him to Copenhagen whilst we were on a plane to Malmo.

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The game was a sell-out for Town fans and there was a clamour for tickets. There wasn't gold cards back then that I recall and I'm not sure how the priority was enforced.

Imagine the upset it would cause now if someone knew that a ticket had landed in the hands of someone random because a previous occupant of the ticket couldn't go at the last minute!

Having looked at a map of the area we would arrive in once we had journeyed from Malmo to Helsingborg, we realised we were only a short ferry ride across to Helsingor for a train to the Danish capital where we agreed we would meet our mate. We reckoned on Copenhagen being far livelier to while away the day than Helsingborg.

What we hadn't considered was the one place where it seemed so many Town fans were refreshing themselves which was a bar called Harry's. This place evokes lots of memories for so many every year that passes.

Ipswich's Titus Bramle, left, fights for the ball with Helsingborgs' Rade Prica during the UEFA Cup clash in November 2001Ipswich's Titus Bramle, left, fights for the ball with Helsingborgs' Rade Prica during the UEFA Cup clash in November 2001

Whether it is because the then Town chairman David Sheepshanks visited to thank many fans for travelling over or simply for the vibrant, good-natured atmosphere that kept us there for so long, we really cannot forget how good that day was.

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We initially landed in a McDonalds - other fast-food restaurants were probably available - for some much-needed grub and realising we had over an hour to wait for the next ferry, we took a quick stroll around the shops and immediate area to see what else was on offer.

We spotted a St George's flag hanging out of a hotel window which had our hometown of Clacton-on-Sea emblazoned across the middle which was a welcoming sight and we fell came out of one pub as quickly as we fell into it given that the inhabitants did not look a friendly bunch to say the least. We feared they were Swedish hooligans, it turned out they were Town fans!

So back to the port we headed and our stumble upon Harry's. Our one quick drink soon turned into several and what an afternoon we had. I recall stepping outside for some air at one point and seeing a rather concerned doorman who spoke perfect English.

Ipswich Town's  Finidi George (left) tussles with Helsingborgs' Lars Bakkerud in the UEFA Cup in 2001. Picture: PA SPORTIpswich Town's Finidi George (left) tussles with Helsingborgs' Lars Bakkerud in the UEFA Cup in 2001. Picture: PA SPORT

When I enquired as to why he held a stern look, it was because of his worry for so many English football hooligans in one place and the thought of repeated violence there previously by fans of both Aston Villa and Chelsea. I promised him he would have nothing to worry about on that front.

Several hours later when we left, I saw this chap again, asked him how his afternoon had gone, and this time he was smiling saying how he couldn't believe that he was getting paid for being part of such a brilliant afternoon. The queue trying to get into the place by then was hundreds long.

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It was walking to the ground that we suddenly remembered our mate that we had left on his own in Copenhagen. We worried (kind of) for his welfare and what had happened to him.

We found him outside the ground and surprisingly, he was in a better mood than we thought he would be as he'd been doing some shopping in some of Denmark's fine shops!

We went to the wrong coach park after the game and found the right coach back to Malmo by the skin of our teeth.

It wouldn't have been the end of the world if we were left behind to be fair - it was that good.

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