Play-off semi wins your greatest vote

The final count has taken place in our bid to find Ipswich Town's greatest-ever game. And thank-you for all your entries. So what of the results? Well it was close, but sneaking home as your overall Greatest-Ever Ipswich Town game was the play-off semi-final, second leg in May 2000, between Town and Bolton.

The final count has taken place in our bid to find Ipswich Town's greatest-ever game. And thank-you for all your entries. So what of the results? Well it was close, but sneaking home as your overall Greatest-Ever Ipswich Town game was the play-off semi-final, second leg in May 2000, between Town and Bolton. That exciting night in May saw Town win 5-3 on the night and 7-5 on aggregate, with current Town manager Jim Magilton grabbing a hat-trick.

Oh, what memories . . .

Yesterday Mike Bacon spoke to Jim. Does he remember it well? What do you reckon?

“ONE of the greatest nights of my life.”


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That's the way current Ipswich Town manager Jim Magilton has described that heady night on May 17, 2000, that saw the Blues reach the play-off final at Wembley after defeating Bolton 7-5 on aggregate.

Magilton was the hero of the hour with his one and only hat-trick as a professional. But looking for Town heroes that night was like looking for trees in a wood.

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“It was one of the greatest nights of my career,” Magilton said. “One of the greatest nights of my life.

“I remember the whole day so clearly even now. I felt good from the start, slept wonderfully well in the afternoon before the game and felt so refreshed, I was really relishing the opportunity to play and get to Wembley.

“We were on a high after coming back from two goals down in the first leg at the Reebok, and then Jonno (David Johnson) and Mogga (Tony Mowbray) are both passed fit for the game.”

So, with Ipswich at full strength, the game itself takes a whole array of twists and turns.

Bolton go ahead. Town, through a Magilton penalty, equalise. But Bolton go ahead again before Magilton misses a second penalty just before half-time.

“I went into the loo at half-time and prayed. I honestly did,” Magilton added.

“I'd never done it before and I've never done it since. I just prayed that penalty miss wouldn't cost us. I prayed like hell.”

It only took four minutes of the second period for Magilton's prayers to be answered. He equalised before Bolton took the lead for the third time.

With time running out Magilton scrambled home the equaliser on 90 minutes to make the aggregate score 5-5.

“It was just unbelievable at that point,” Magilton said.

“Veno (Mark Venus) has put in this cross and Mogga is up there and it falls to me.

“I gambled a bit and it came off. It was incredible, people were on the pitch; we were all going mad.”

A fiery extra-time saw Town finish the job off with another penalty from Jamie Clapham and a Martijn Reuser strike as Bolton's discipline evaporated.

“At the final whistle I just ran off the pitch with the ball in my hands, but I didn't think for a second about keeping the ball,” Magilton said.

“I just wanted to get back in the dressing room. We had only done half the job as far as I was concerned.

“We now had Wembley to look forward to. And, of course we know what happened there.”

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