Former Town youngster Bloomfield's drama-filled journey from a single Ipswich game to becoming 'Mr Wycombe'
PUBLISHED: 17:00 06 March 2019
Former Ipswich Town youngster Matt Bloomfield made his 500th professional appearance at the weekend after finding a home at Wycombe Wanderers. ANDY WARREN spoke to him.
If Matt Bloomfield’s football career had ended after just one game he would have walked away having achieved his dream.
His Ipswich Town debut in a shock League Cup loss at Notts County in September 2003 proved to be his one and only appearance for his boyhood club, before he was allowed to move on just a few months later.
It was the end of the line at Portman Road for a youngster who had come through the Ipswich youth system alongside Darrens Bent and Ambrose, but that disappointment proved to only be the beginning for a man now known as ‘Mr Wycombe’.
Signing an 18-month deal at Adams Park was a step into the unknown for the midfielder as he left the safety of Suffolk but, little did he know, he had found his home for the next 15 years.
The Chairboys’ visit to Peterborough last weekend saw him reach the 500 game mark as a professional and, while 499 of those have come in Wanderers’ distinctive blue quarters, he will always remember the night his Ipswich dream came true.
“Ipswich was the team I supported as a kid so I will never, ever forget that one appearance I made for the club,” he said.
“Getting on the pitch in an Ipswich shirt was a dream come true for me and, if my career had ended after that night, I would have achieved my ambition of playing for my hometown club.
“Not many people can say they’ve done that, for the team they supported as a boy, and that can’t be taken away from me.
“We were expected to win that game but we didn’t and got beaten (2-1) and for whatever reason I never got the chance to pull on the shirt again.
“Obviously I hoped it would be a lot more than that one appearance but sometimes in football these things happen.
“Even though I didn’t think it at the time, because I wanted to stay and play at home in front of my family and friends, the best thing for me then was to move on and find a home in Wycombe which has given me the opportunity to create a career and a livelihood for myself.”
And it’s been quite the career, with the 35-year-old’s time at the club including three promotions, three relegations, one play-off shootout loss at Wembley, a near relegation out of the Football League, a League Cup semi-final under current Blues boss Paul Lambert and a testimonial against Chelsea.
But it wouldn’t have happened without a phone call from former England captain Tony Adams, the manager who took Bloomfield to Buckinghamshire.
“He rang me one Thursday evening when I was in the shower getting ready to go out, he left a message and I listened to it and literally cancelled my plans, packed my bags and went off to stay at my uncle’s who lived 20 minutes from Wycombe,” Bloomfield said.
“I went in and trained the next day, signed the next week and that’s it really. I’m still there now. You don’t say no to Tony Adams!
“I signed for 18 months to start with and little did I realise I’d be talking about 500 games. It’s so mad to think about how that one phone call shaped my professional life for so long.
“My time here has certainly been incident packed and I don’t think there have been many seasons where we’ve been safely in mid-table in March with nothing to play for.
“It’s been absolutely incredible really.
“I’m really proud to have reached 500 games and feel really lucky to have done that because there are probably so many players with a lot more talent than me, but I’ve managed to stay in the game for all these years. You have to be very grateful for that.
“I’ve been lucky to be a footballer for 19 years since I left school and I will never take that for granted. This is a nice reminder of what you can achieve if you can work hard enough.”
Bloomfield’s 500th Wycombe game comes this weekend against Sunderland, but there’s been one team the midfielder has never been able to cross paths with during his long career.
“For every single cup draw I’ve been hoping we get Ipswich,” he said.
“The League Cup has been regionalised and seeded, with Ipswich always seeded and Wycombe unseeded, so there’s always been something like a one in 16 chance of us drawing each other, but it’s never happened.
“Ipswich always get Stevenage or something. I sit and watch, pray that it will be Ipswich but it never is.”
The veteran midfielder has moved back to Suffolk now to raise his family in Felixstowe, spending three nights a week in Wycombe for training and also working with the Blues’ Under 15s on Wednesday evenings alongside former Ipswich full-back Micky Stockwell.
Coaching is a career he could pursue while Bloomfield also holds a degree in sports journalism, but he still feels he has plenty left to give on the pitch.
“I’ve got another year left on my contract at Wycombe and my stats are still stacking up against the younger lads, which is good,” he said.
“I enjoy my fitness work, I’m eating and exercising better than I ever have done and that’s served me well so far.
“The fire’s still burning so hopefully I have plenty more left in me.”