North Stander: Hats off to ITFC... And how about this for a ‘clutching at straws’ thought!

Ipswich Town FC Photo: ARCHANT

Ipswich Town FC Photo: ARCHANT

North Stander TERRY HUNT hopes the lack of football won’t see Town fans finding other things to fill their time in the future....

Town fans celebrate at Fleetwood Picture Pagepix

Town fans celebrate at Fleetwood Picture Pagepix

I would like to begin this week by saying well done to Ipswich Town Football Club.

I haven’t had many opportunities to congratulate the Portman Road hierarchy in recent years, so I won’t miss this chance.

It was brilliant to see the stadium being offered to the NHS to use to help combat Coronavirus. Absolutely the right thing to do, and in the finest tradition of our football club placing itself at the centre of the community, in both good times and bad.

Whoever made the decision, well done and thank you. I’m delighted to see the club still has a heart.

These are certainly strange times, with no football and indeed absolutely no sport.

I know some people are really missing their live sport, or watching it on TV, but others are finding alternative ways of filling their time.

Town players celebrate after Gwion Edwards early goal against Blackpool. Picture: Steve Waller w

Town players celebrate after Gwion Edwards early goal against Blackpool. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

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It means these are perilous times for clubs like Ipswich. There is a real danger that some fans will come to realise there are other ways of spending their Saturday afternoons, or Tuesday evenings. Especially when they haven’t exactly been royally entertained in recent seasons.


What has been entertaining is the flow of old matches appearing on TV and social media, filling the gaps where normal coverage would have been.

I loved watching our 1985 quarter-final against Everton, which I had pretty much forgotten about, to be honest.

It was during the Bobby Ferguson era, which was basically one of decline, but obviously with a few highlights.

I also enjoyed re-living Richard Chaplow’s late, late winning goal against Watford, exactly five years ago. It’s amazing how Chaplow is something of a cult hero for Town fans, because of that goal. He played the grand total of six games for us!

Ed Sheeran watches the Town fans celebrating in the North Stand. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPH

Ed Sheeran watches the Town fans celebrating in the North Stand. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The serious footballing stuff is, of course, whether this season will be played to a finish.

The authorities say they are determined it will happen, and have given themselves until the end of June to complete the outstanding matches.

Obviously it’s the right thing to do – promotions and relegations, qualification for the Champions League, and other big issues will need to be settled properly, to avoid masses of court cases which would no doubt take ages and confuse the situation further.

But, the way things are at the moment, I can only see the remaining games being played behind closed doors. It will be strange. Without fans, football becomes an empty shell. The only sounds are the voices of the players and the coaches. It will be unsatisfactory, but it’s the only way I can see it happening.

We all have plenty of thinking time at the moment, and my rather odd brain has come up with a straw to cling to for Town supporters desperate for a return of anything remotely resembling good times for the club.

This particular straw involves dates.

Bear with me... so, next season will be 2020-21. If it follows an existing pattern, then it will be a great campaign.

Think back. 1960-61 saw Alf Ramsey’s collection of has-beens and misfits won the Second Division Championship to reach the top-flight for the first time. The following season, they stunned the football world by winning the League Championship at the first attempt.

MORE: TONY’S TALES from his time covering ITFC

Twenty years later, in 1980-81, Bobby Robson’s brilliant team came so close to a treble of First Division, FA Cup, and UEFA Cup. As we know, a 66-game season took its toll on a small squad and in the end they had to settle for the UEFA Cup. But there was no better team in Europe that season.

Then, moving forward another 20 years, to 2000-01, George Burley guided his newly-promoted team to fifth place in the Premier League. What a season that was – all those goals from Marcus Stewart, winning at Anfield, so many brilliant performances against English soccer’s elite.

So, if we follow the pattern, another 20 years having passed by, and season 2020-21 should be an absolute belter!

I know, I know, I did warn you I was clutching at straws.

But, given the season we were having until it was interrupted, and the way the last few years have gone, I think a bit of straw-clutching is perfectly acceptable.

Finally, let’s all remember that there are many things which are much, much more important than football.

Keep safe, and stay well.