Players walking to the ground, a pat on the back for a celebration and cushions for hire - the last time Town played in the third tier
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town will be back in the third tier of football next season for the first time in more than 60 years. TONY GARNETT remembers the last time Town played in that third tier.... The 1956-57 season.
When Alf Ramsey guided Ipswich Town to the Division Three (South) Championship in 1956-57 season he was well on the way to establishing the team that went on to win the First Division title at the first attempt five years later.
Roy Bailey, Jimmy Leadbetter, Ted Phillips, John Elsworthy and Larry Carberry were all involved.
Stalwarts like Dai Rees, Neil Myles, Billy Reed, Tom Garneys, Basil Acres, George McLuckie and Tommy Parker were nearing the end of their careers.
Local radio did not exist.
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There was black and white television with the FA Cup final one of the few matches shown live.
Supporters had to wait for Sports Report on the radio with Eamonn Andrews at 5pm to know the results. Then they had to buy the Green'Un newspaper to find out who had scored.
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There were always queues outside newsagents round the county who stayed open late on a Saturday night.
Six clubs who faced Ipswich in that season will be in the Premiership in August. They are Bournemouth, Brighton, Crystal Palace, Southampton, Watford and Norwich City.
The only clubs that Ipswich will be facing next season from their 1956-57 fixture list will be Gillingham, Coventry City, Shrewsbury Town, Southend United and Newport County - if they win the play-offs.
In the 50s the Ipswich players ran onto the field to the strains of circus music, 'The Entry of the Gladiators'.
They would emerge from a converted cricket pavilion wearing blue shirts with white sleeves with numbers two to 11. There were no substitutes, no names on shirts and no advertising.
Goalkeepers usually wore green jerseys if Plymouth Argyle were not involved.
Many supporters would walk to the ground, as did some of the players.
There was a cycle park at the ground costing a few pennies. Supporters, mainly men and boys, would perhaps have a blue and white woollen scarf. Some carried a wooden rattle. There was no need for segregation.
Season-ticket holders and the Press were in the Portman Road stand.
It was possible to hire a cushion on the way in. It was standing room only on other parts of the ground. Youngsters were often passed forward on the terraces so they could get a better view.
The West Stand was yet to be built so those with seats would sometimes have the setting sun in their eyes.
Marching bands were often hired to entertain the crowd and there was always the booming voice of Swede, a burly bus conductor, who paraded round the touchline with a blue and white umbrella trying to drum up enthusiasm.
There were no floodlights for a further three years at Portman and the club had no youth scheme.
There were no choreographed celebrations either! A pat on the back was enough for a goalscorer.
The pitch was one of the best in England tended by head greenkeeper Freddie Blake with his assistant Stanley Prendergast
The Ipswich trainer-physios were Jimmy Forsyth for the first team and Charlie Cowie for the reserves. Forsyth was a former Millwall star in pre-war days. He was in the giant-killing team that reached the 1937 FA Cup semi-final.
He would race onto the field to treat an injured player with smelling salts, a bucket of water and a sponge. Some were known to say: "Get off me Jimmy. You'll make it worse."
Memory man Ron Ellis, the keenest of supporters, would meet the players at Ipswich Station on their return from away matches and drive them to their homes.
Adam Scott Duncan was club secretary, Wally Gray was his assistant and Miss Pat Godbold worked in the office which was a two-room wooden hut also occupied by Ramsey.
Ground development started in the 60s after Ipswich had surprised the football world by winning the First Division Championship at the first attempt.
Ipswich had tasted a season of Second Division football under manager Scott Duncan in 1954-55 but they were back in Division Three by the time Ramsey arrived.
IPSWICH TOWN HANDBOOK 1956-57
Advertisers included, among others:
E S Stow, 232 Felixstowe Road Building and Garden materials.
Clayton's sports outfitters, 6 Northgate Street.
W D Coe, 22-28 Norwich Road. Supplied blazer badges. Ties, club mufflers.
F S and G E Goddard, 4-6 New Street. Ipswich. Builders and decorators.
R Barratt, Buttermarket for sports trophies and watches.
J H Grimwade and Son Ltd Cornhill (Clothier)
Prices Boot Stores (Brook Street and Tacket Street) Est. 1846.
O Haxell, 7-9 Princes Street (farm seeds and garden sundries. Est 1860.
Tolly (Tolly for Quality) Brewery.
J and J Edwards Ltd 33-35 Tavern Street. Clothier.
Avis, Cook and Co Ltd 2 and 4 High Street and Major's Corner and 33 Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds. Wireless and television.