North Stander: Do the right thing, Marcus - agree to end the season

Marcus Evans has written to the EFL to say that he wants to finish the League One season. Picture: A

Marcus Evans has written to the EFL to say that he wants to finish the League One season. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

What a difference 20 years makes. It’s very sad to consider the huge contrast between the fortunes of Ipswich Town exactly two decades ago, and the way our club is today, writes North Stander Terry Hunt.

Further discussions about the League One season will be held this week

Further discussions about the League One season will be held this week - Credit: Archant

This time back in 2000, we were being thrilled by Town’s exploits in the play-offs. The Magilton-inspired semi-final against Bolton was the most exciting football match I’ve ever seen - and I’ve been to more than 1,000, so I have plenty to choose from!

Of course, that was followed by another incredibly exciting game in the final at Wembley, when Ipswich finally won their place in the Premier League, after years of coming so close.

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Fast forward 20 years to the present day, and we find a sad, stark contrast. We are now nothing more than a humdrum, bang average League One team.

Of course, the fact that there is no football being played is not the fault of Ipswich Town, or any football club.

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But I have to say I’m deeply disappointed by the club’s position in the ongoing debate about how, and when, to finish the 2019-20 League One season.

Jim Magilton celebrates his dramatic late equaliser against Bolton. Picture: PA

Jim Magilton celebrates his dramatic late equaliser against Bolton. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Just to remind you, Town are one of only six League One clubs who want the season played to a finish. The debate goes on, and the clubs hope to reach some kind of “creative” agreement in the next few days.

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I don’t know about you, but I find it rather distasteful and unseemly for this squabbling to be going on about something as trivial as football while hundreds of people are dying from the virus each day, and thousands are seriously ill in hospital.

The phrase “sporting integrity” keeps being spouted by various people who want the remaining games played, almost certainly behind closed doors.

Really? Sporting integrity? Surely the best way to show integrity, and respect, would be to find a way to end the season as quickly as possible, and agree how to resolve the issues of promotion and the play-offs.

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I see there’s talk of including more teams in the play-offs. Like all Town supporters, I would love to see us promoted - but not under these circumstances.

How far would you go? Have the whole top half of the table included in the play-offs? Imagine the conversation: “Yes, mate, my team went up through the play-offs. We finished 11th in the table.” Ludicrous - and not football as we know it.

So, please, Marcus Evans, do the right thing and fall into line with the majority of clubs in our division, and let’s stop trying to flog a dead horse. I’m sure a large majority of supporters feel the season is over, and there are much, much more important things to worry about. Let’s put it behind us.

Meanwhile, we can indulge ourselves by going back 20 years, and recalling the glorious days of May 2000. As editor of the EADT newspaper, the front pages were no-brainers. Football, football, and more football! It was one of those exciting times which swept along the whole community. Loads of people with little or no interest in football got swept up in all the excitement.

It was a great time for the whole of Suffolk, including the world of business. I remember we sold 50,000 extra newspapers during those wonderful few weeks - including an additional 20,000 the day after the Wembley final. I wonder how many Ipswich fans still have those newspapers tucked away in a drawer somewhere? I know I have!

It was such fun. We produced hundreds of foam fingers for Town supporters to take to Wembley, as well as a gigantic flag which seemed to be about half the size of a football pitch. The flag was last seen being carried down Wembley Way by a group of jubilant Town fans, never to be seen again! I wonder where it is?

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As I said earlier, it is lovely to look back to those long-distant glory days of 20 years ago. But there is such a striking contrast with our club’s fortunes today. We cannot live in the past, but we can revel in our club’s glorious history. Let’s hope that, one day, we will be able to enjoy times like those once again.

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