The Verdict: Marcus Evans beware – Ipswich Town fans may not shout, but they are silently walking away
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town’s home campaign finished with a typically forgettable 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. Blues reporter STUART WATSON gives his verdict.
What an apt way for the curtain to come down at Portman Road – a boring end to a boring campaign.
There were no shouts for an encore following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, but Town’s staff and players reemerged to carry out a lap of the field through a sense of duty rather than desire.
It certainly wasn’t a ‘lap of honour’, but dishonour would be too strong a word too. Manager Mick McCarthy has called it a ‘lap of appreciation’. Perhaps ‘lap of acknowledgement’ would be the best term.
Town’s players acknowledged those who have sat through so much dross, while supporters acknowledged the efforts of a team who have been swimming against the tide. This isn’t a set of players who can be accused of not trying or not caring. A lack of budget, key players being sold, injuries and restrictive tactics – perhaps intertwined issues – have all conspired to hold them back.
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A picture paints a thousand words and the rather sad sight of a forlorn group trudging around the perimeter in front of swathes of empty seats said it all.
Out of a crowd of 19,000, few stayed behind to participate in the awkward ceremony. This was another 90 minutes of their lives that Blues fans are not going to get back and most were keen to get home and quickly try to forget this season ever happened. Yes, this was a painful reminder of the 18 months of non-entertainment dished up on Suffolk soil and proof that delightful days like the Easter Monday win over Newcastle are very much an exception to the rule.
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And what of those that did hang back? Their reaction said a lot too. Half-hearted applause from a smattering in the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand and Cobbold Stand, followed by toxic chants of ‘Mick McCarthy, we want you to go’ from a section – and it was just a section – in the Sir Bobby Robson Stand. McCarthy stayed outside the penalty box at this stage. Other fans, sensing his discomfort, applauded louder.
Mick may have wound many up with his combative comments, but many still have great sympathy for the restrictions he faces. That’s the problem – no-one really can, with any complete conviction, come up with a sole solution.
Town are still in danger of their lowest league finish since 1959 heading into Sunday’s finale at relegation-fighting Nottingham Forest. Yet it’s apathy, not anger, which continues to be the ruling emotion as the club heads towards a 16th successive season in the second-tier.
Reminders were sent out at the end of last week that season tickets will automatically be renewed for those that pay by direct debit. Many, disenchanted and seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, may quietly and without fuss put a stop to that.
Apathy is an easy emotion to ignore, but owner Marcus Evans should ignore it at his peril.