They say good things come in threes and this weekend Ipswich Town travel to the KC stadium for the third time in 2012.In January, I made my first trip to what is now one of my favourite away grounds; thanks to the modern stadium, easy access from the train station and a great pub for away fans right next to the ground. Sadly, the football didn't live up to our pre-match 'Jimmy Bullard banter' with the home fans. Town were dire and slumped to a 3:1 FA Cup defeat to The Tigers.
Just two months later I made the second trip to East Yorkshire, the result was slightly more enjoyable this time as The Blues came back from 2:0 down thanks to a brace from former midfielder Grant Leadbitter. It was a great game from him, which formed part of our climb from the slump we found ourselves in in January.
Could this be the same again?
Then, as now, we were suffering from a terrible fall in confidence that was seeing us throw away leads and stupid individual errors leading to us conceding goals (I distinctly remember Sonko being shrugged off by Cameron Stewart to allow Hull their third goal).
But we have something different this time, something people won't like me stating as a 'positive' to Town's current predicament... our loan players.
Much has been made of Ipswich having signed their eighth player on loan this week, it's not what we'd hoped for our long-term development. However, I had an interesting chat with Dave Gooderham from the EADT about this today which unearthered a way that these short term acquisitions could work in our favour.
They come to our side without the pressure of the last two months weighing on their shoulders, as it visibly is on Scott Loach, Michael Chopra, Tommy Smith and co. Not only that but they bring a desire to prove themselves, even if it is for their future away from Ipswich.
It's not an ideal situation - and I'll be discussing the pro's and con's of loan signings with a Nodge fan in more detail next week - but it could well be just what we need at the moment.
I've seen three matches so far this season and each time the most important thing that appears to have been lacking is confidence, especially after half time. Against Middlesbrough, Barnsley and Cardiff we performed reasonably, if not very well during the first 45 minutes. We controlled the games, we played some good football and we looked like a side that could be competing in the top half of the table later on in the season.
But then the boys go off at half time and it's like someone sticks a pin in them. They deflate and come back out through the tunnel completely deflated and nervous about conceding a goal. They then start ot defend too deep (presumably under instruction from the management) and the onslaught from the opposition can only be withstood for so long.
Whether you blame that on the quality of players in the side or the man that's organising them we need a solution. Personally, I believe it is down to Paul Jewell that they lack confidence and it is his job to improve this - which he isnt' doing. But the fact is we now need a way to solve that... and the loan players could well be it. Fresh faces work well in any line of work: they bring something different, new ideas and a little bit of confidence. I certainly feel like the quality players we have in Reo-Coker, DJ Campbell and Henderson can add to a team that seems to be heading for rock bottom at the moment. Even if it is short term.
Whatever works to get us off the bottom of that table, surely?
Anyway, back to the day. As Dave said to me 'the one thing you can't fault this season is Town's amazing away following' and how right he was.
As I say, Hull away is one of my favourite away days - not least because it's one of the closest games to me!
The ground is a typical 'modern' ground and some mnore traditional fans may not like it - but I really do. It's really attractive and when you're there you really get the feeling your on a trip out for the football. It's on the edge of the city, so you don't have to venture into the dull surroundings of Hull itself, but it's close enough to the station to make it an easy journey for travelling fans.
If, like me, you're travelling by train - head through the bus station which is attached to the train station on the left as you exit the platforms. You'll come out of there with a shopping centre on your right: head past the petrol station, cross the road, and take the first road left. This road leads you straight to the ground, less than half an hour away. See? Easy!
One of the best things Hull has going for it is the great little pub that's recommended for away fans. Following on from the above directions, keep walking once you arrive at the ground. A path takes you across a park and you'll see a road running alongside it straight ahead. Along there you will find 'The Brickmakers Pub' where we were made to feel very welcome last year by Hull fans with a round of Jimmy Bullard songs pre-match. Their chant regarding the curly haired one differs slightly from ours, as you'd imnagine!
If you are at the match early I can definitely recommend that pub for a quick visit, come and see us!
As for other ways to travel to the KC, it is a very easy drive: the A63 dual carriageway takes you right past the ground (keep an eye out for the impressive Humber Bridge before you get there). But, I was warned by a colleague this week the A63 is the ONLY road in and out of Hull and as such becomes VERY busy on match days. So be warned! That said, to my memory, the car park at the ground is large and inexpensive and so the rest of the trip should be relatively stress free.
I've reached the point, as an Ipswich fan, where I am so confused about what to expect on the pitch when I go to a game that I decide to focus on the day I'm going to have as a whole. For that, Hull is perfect and I look forward to seeing my Ipswich family again so soon, after - that's what makes being an Ipswich fan worth it!