Monday verdict: Arrival of a new homegrown hero means there is finally something to get excited about

Andre Dozzell scores on his debut at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday

Andre Dozzell scores on his debut at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday

In an instant the gloom was lifted.

Ipswich Town supporters have been served up some dross in recent weeks, but those who travelled to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday were rewarded with a historic event which will live long in the club’s folklore.

Former Copleston High School pupil Andre Dozzell enjoyed a goalscoring debut at the age of 16 years and 350 days, the midfielder stepping off the bench at half-time and heading home the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough.

To do that at such a tender age is rare enough. Then you consider that his father Jason did exactly the same thing back in February 1984 when he was introduced as sub at the age of 16 and 57 days to score in a 3-1 win against Coventry at Portman Road. He went back to Chantry High School on the Monday and remains the top-flight’s youngest-ever scorer.

It’s something that has never happened in football before and is likely to never happen again. It’s a quiz question that will be used decades down the line.


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And it was achieved by two generations of a genuine, born-and-bred, Ipswich-in-the-blood family. Dozzell senior, proud as punch, celebrated like mad in the crowd. Dozzell junior admits he didn’t know how to react before his delighted team-mates engulfed him in a joyous group hug. What a feelgood story and boy how that injection of optimism was needed.

The Blues fans in the away end had been chanting how useless their team was minutes earlier. They all left the ground beaming from ear-to-ear.

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Tomorrow night’s home game against Fulham all of a sudden seems very appealing. The play-offs may be out of reach with four games to go, but there is now something to get excited about ahead of a 15th successive season in the Championship.

If owner Marcus Evans remains reluctant to spend out on transfer fees, the only way manager Mick McCarthy is going to add quality creative players to his squad is from within. Thankfully, Bryan Klug has got the academy production line working again at a vital moment.

Already on the fringes of the first-team are talented midfielders Kundai Benyu, Adam McDonnell and James Blanchfield, as well as defenders Josh Emmanuel, Myles Kenlock and Matt Clarke. Like Dozzell, keeper Nick Hayes and striker Ben Morris have been capped at England Under-17 level. And, don’t forget, Teddy Bishop will be back next season too. Town fans have always loved a homegrown hero. If the Blues are to break free from Groundhog Day then maybe they need to go back to the future.

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