Is there a greater day of the year than fixture list release day?
At 9 am on Thursday 20th June, my next 12 months are decided, I’ll know what I’m doing on each weekend and friends and family can once again start booking in plans with me.
Never mind the fact my second son is due to arrive at the end of August… my whole life will revolve around the dates and locations that are released by the EFL. The baby can fit around those, right?
So, what game will you be looking for first?
I imagine Southend away is going to be a popular one for Town fans, a local derby of sorts and a new ground for many, and there are plenty of others that will provide a few ‘ticks’ for us on our trip around the 92 (potentially 14 in my case).
For me, the early games will be important. By the start of the season I will be 8 months pregnant and I am at weddings for the first two games – so some nice southern away days or home games that I wouldn't be able to get to anyway would be nice.
My other half went to Uni in Portsmouth, so we’d love that one to fall on a school holiday when he will be off work. Then the final home game of the season I’m hoping will be the date for my hen do, so praying for that to be a good date too!
If you’ve worked out the dates and are wondering which away days to go to, I’ve spoken to some Ipswich fans and asked them to recommend their favourites from the choices we have now we’re in League One.
Back in January, I had a preview of the third tier during our trip to Accrington Stanley.
I have to say, the day out was far more enjoyable than the match. There is an away fans pub literally a stone’s throw from the ground, and after the game we were welcomed into the club bar to enjoy their £1 a pint offer which they run every time they win.
The Wham Stadium has an open terrace and seated area for the away fans, I opted for the terrace – thinking it might be marginally warmer standing up and chanting than sitting down for the game. I’m hoping the return visit this season will bring us a little more joy.
@HargraveGas is not a fan of AFC Wimbledon:
Wimbledon is a game I often go to and then wonder why. It’s a horrible ground for away fans, particularly when there is a good number of you. You can’t see the pitch (this picture makes it look better than it is!), but there is a nice, friendly area outside to eat and drink before the kick-off.
Blackpool is one I’ve been to a few times and it’s sure to be one Town fans are looking out for:
It’s amazing to think they were not long ago in the Premier League, the ground is definitely one of the better ones we’ll go to this year – but it’s no Old Trafford. Last time I went, the toilets were portaloos and it is so windy you wonder how the ball is staying on the ground.
As a day trip, though, it’s hard to beat. Obviously the ideal one for a weekender, with pubs and clubs a-plenty and loads of cheap places to stay. It was in Blackpool where I first met a group of Town fans that were to become my good friends for many years after!
Assuming Bolton are able to make it through the summer, the Macron Stadium (or whatever it is called nowadays) is one I’ll definitely be hoping to go to. It’s only an hour from me and I actually really like the modern ground.
With the excellent following earlier this year over 1,000), this was one of the more enjoyable away trips of the year, despite us already being all but relegated. There isn’t usually so many people who make the journey up for this on, which can make it quite quiet.
We always park at the Beehive Pub, it’s free and a good place to grab food and drinks. The walk to the ground feels like it lasts forever, but it’s actually only about fifteen minutes and if you’re going by train, the station is over the road.
@itmanSW75 has lots of experience of going to Bristol Rovers:
The first thing to note about a trip to Bristol Rovers is that you're not visiting the Red Side of the City. Parking around the ground is fairly abundant and trains run frequently from London to Bristol.
There is no alcohol available to away fans inside the ground, but the Annexe Inn and the Sportsman is recommended, and there are lots of other choices nearby.
The Memorial Stadium itself is a strange mixture of stands. Ipswich fans will find themselves in a small, uncovered corner of the East Stand and the new South Stand which has a feel of temporary seating. So, if we're placed there on a cold November evening, you're definitely going to want to be in the south end!
Blue Monday regular @IpsRich often shares stories about Burton Albion because it's one of the closest games to his home:
Burton Albion is a great away trip. As a Midlander, its a short hop up the road for me, so scores big convenience points!
I’ve always found Burton a welcoming place. The locals will strike up a conversation if they spot the blue of an ITFC shirt, and are very knowledgable and passionate about their club. They’re aware of their stature too though; Derby is very close by, and Leicester and Nottingham are also adjacent.
The away end is a terrace behind the goal and some seating to the side. Do yourself a favour, relive the good old days by standing (legitimately) behind the goal. A visit to Burton in the 2019/20 season will also mark only our third away visit to the Brewers in our entire history.
The lovely @hunimonster is an away days specialist. But, as a Midlands based Town fan, Coventry is actually her 'home' game:
I was born and still live just a couple of miles down the road from Coventry.
I remember my first away game and tightly gripping my Dad's hand on the way to Highfield Road. I don't remember the score but I will always remember the noise and the atmosphere.
Since then, the Ricoh has been the first taste my children have had of the away end and the magnificent support us Ipswich fans bring.
Portman Road will always be 'home', but I know no matter where Coventry City play in the seasons to come, I feel I'm always among friends when we visit the Sky Blues.
@Tom_Morken has these tips for anyone travelling to Fleetwood Town:
There’s no train station at Fleetwood and not much to see in the area around Highbury Stadium. So, you’re better off spending the pre-match in Blackpool and then hopping on the tram to Stanley Road which is about a 35-minute journey and only a few minutes’ walk from the ground.
Get a day travelcard on the tram (was around £5 when I visited last October).
Meanwhile, @DaveTractor is a fan of Gillingham.
The trip there includes a cracking pub and chip shop to visit. Gillingham is a desert for decent pubs, but all away supporters stop at the Wetherspoons at Rochester.
Lincoln City holds some bad memories for Town fans, @ChrisTalbot has these tips to make it a little more successful this season (off the pitch at least):
Sincil Bank is about a 15-minute walk from Lincoln Central Railway Station and the away fans are seated in the Stacey West Stand. There is a Fanzone on matchdays behind the South Park Stand and there is also a Wetherspoons on the High Street on the way to the ground.
@hargravegas adds: I have mixed memories of Lincoln – some absolutely cracking games, the city itself is quite lovely (in parts), but they sometimes need a police presence. I’ve been there when it’s kicked off, not good!
I’ve not been to Peterborough United for a while, it’s another that holds very bad memories.
Our last league trip there was the absolutely disastrous 7:1 defeat, when Tommy Smith was sent off – within 30 seconds of entering the pitch, if memory serves – followed by Lee Martin who never really found form after that.
When we visited for a friendly game more recently, I did enjoy the pre-match pub. It was a barge on the edge of the river, had a lovely atmosphere and I’m sure they had Aspall’s on tap too.
A good cider makes a good away day, I reckon.
@hargravegas added a quick review of Rochdale:
Rochdale is well worth a trip: old fashioned, really friendly, quite homely I would say and nice pies!
Rotherham is one of my favourite away days and this is one I’ll be praying doesn’t clash with anything.
The Bridge Inn was rumoured to not be taking away fans last season, although we were welcomed there afterwards and the bar man was quite confused about why we hadn’t been in before.
The pub is opposite the train station and a short walk from the ground. It’s not massive, but plenty big enough for the away fans we usually take to this game, and they serve pies and other food before the game – winner.
We haven’t had many amazing away days in recent years thanks to Mick 'the draw specialist' McCarthy, but Rotherham was one in 2016: a hat trick from Daryl Murphy (oh how we miss him) taking us to a 5:2 win and a lot of post-match partying… I didn’t actually make it home after that one!
@AnglianDriver has clear memories of Shewsbury Town from years gone by:
I actually saw Town at the old Gay Meadow ground in the 80’s in the UEFA Cup winning season when Burley broke his leg, and then we lost 2-1 in the FA Cup in 1984 (I think).
Shrewsbury moved to a modern, out-of-town stadium a few years ago, it has a large car park at the front (it sits back from the main road next to a Lidl Shop!). It’s a bit like Colchester United’s ground in design and capacity and there is a pub close to the ground call the Wild Pig and a retail park offering things like McDonald’s.
The town centre is about 2-3 miles away, where there are lots of nice pubs and bars. Shrewsbury itself is a fairly affluent place with a decent nightlife and some nice, historical architecture.
@Hargravegas also gave us his thoughts on Southend United:
I love Southend and I’m not sure why, it might be because they still have two Wimpy’s in town!
I tend to park in the street, somewhere around the school and there’s nice fish and chips near the ground too. The only negative thing that I would say is that it always takes longer than you think it will to get there.
I’d been looking forward to Sunderland when we played them two years ago.
Before the game I hadn’t expected we’d be seeing them relegated so soon (nor for us to follow them down the year after). My friends all stayed in Newcastle for the weekend and I joined them for breakfast at a Greene King pub near the station (always a fail-safe option).
We popped to St James’ Park to pay our respects at the Sir Bobby Robson statue, before jumping on the Metro to Sunderland. We found a pub there which was packed with ITFC fans. A lovely atmosphere but, to be honest, I regretted not staying in Newcastle for another pint.
Fair warning, as you’ll see in my video, the stairs to the away stand are both the highlight and the worst part of the trip… it’s a long way up, but they have little messages at each level to make you smile through the climb.
Let me know which game you’re looking forward to most!