Tuesday, 3 April 2012

GUEST BLOG: 'George Best ran us ragged and the crowd were baying for Bobby Robson's head'

When my sister and I were travelling to Vicarage Road last weekend we bumped into some Newcastle United fans spending the day in London.

They asked who we were playing that day and we chatted a little about how well our respective teams were doing recently.

As is always the way, the conversation soon lead to the great days of Ipswich Town and the man both clubs adore: Sir Bobby Robson. How nice it always is to hear how fondly he is thought of by others as well as us.

Ipswich Town. You hear those two words and the first things that come to mind are surely Sir Alf and Sir Bobby. The two greatest men in our history are now forever locked in the bricks of Portman Road - as visitors can now opt to sit in either the Sir Alf Ramsey stand or the Sir Bobby Robson stand.

Doesn't it make you proud?!

Following on from the great guest blog from my Dad about the days of Sir Alf, I thought it relevant to publish this wondeful blog about Sir Bobby sent to me by Andrew Barnard (you may know him as @FelstedBoy!):

Its been an easy choice to think of a topic to write about: Sir Bobby Robson.

When he arrived at Portman Road most people said "who"? Apparently he was'nt even the boards first choice!

You've probably seen the picture of a fresh faced, youthful Robert Robson being greeted at Ipswich station by John Cobbold. It must have been an "interesting" interview, knowing the Cobbolds liking for a drink! They clearly saw something in him that impressed them, particularly as the outgoing manager - Bill McGarry - was almost the exact opposite to Bobby.

He wasn't welcomed by the older players at first, who thought what does this young guy know? After the well documented dressing room fight with Baxter and Carroll thoguh, he managed to establish himself as The Boss.

It started off slowly, with a relegation fight, but the signings of Robertson and Clarke were enough to keep us up. From then it was a steady building job, by bringing in young players through the youth system. This was helped by Chief Scout Ron Grey, who knew how to pick a youngster, and the club set up a youth system that became the envy of most other clubs.

I remember the League Cup game against Manchester United when George Best ran us ragged: The crowd were baying for Bobbys head! The next morning he got a call from Mr John asking him to come into the office, he must have feared the worst! When he got there John apologised to Bobby for the crowd's behaviour (and soothed things over with another drink no doubt!).

The following years saw us produce the best football ever seen at Portman Road. Then the European nights started. The first Uefa cup match I saw was against Real Madrid, 1-0 Mick Mills. What followed was 10 years of the best European teams coming to Ipswich.

Year after year taking on the best teams in the land, and coming within 45 minutes of winning the league.I think at this time we all thought it would last forever: winning cups and being one of the best teams in the country.

I think we must have been every football fan's 'second team', all because we played such great football. Our players also graced many international teams, often captaining them.

Sir Bobby changed our style of play by being one of the first to bring in foreign players. He used a sports physcologist, changed diets and training methods. Of course this led to many tempting offers to work overseas, but he had only one job he would leave Ipswich for, England.

Can anyone ever forget that semi against Germany? We came so close to seeing two Ipswich managers lifting the World Cup!

Through all this, of course, he fought his own personal battles against cancer. I'll never forget hearing the news on the car radio when he finally succumbed to the illness and then the emotion of the memorial game, with tears running down my face as they played "My Way".

Thanks for all the memories Bobby.