Monday, 5 November 2012

"Come the final whistle, I felt like we had won promotion": a fans eye view of ITFC's trip to Birmingham

At 16:54 on Saturday afternoon I received a phone call, it was one I'd recently come to dread - but this time it was different.

That call was just after full time at St Andrew's and came from a very good friend of mine: Jordan, a Town fan for 15 years, who had made the trip up to Birmingham to watch his team play for the first time under their new manager Mick McCarthy. I answered the phone to hear over a thousand Town fans singing, 'And it's Ipswich Town…'.
Listening to those travelling fans via the commentary on Ipswich Player, they were - once again – a credit to the club. And hearing the celebrations at the final whistle really brought home what a relief these three points were, how much hope Big Mick had brought and, sadly, the realisation that perhaps it might have been better to have parted company with Paul Jewell a little sooner.
I have long argued that the mood of the crowd can have a huge influence on the result of the game: a point I felt is somewhat proven when you compare our terrible home record to the increasing frustration or even apathy felt among fans at Portman Road. This is, of course, due to the inconsistent performances from our team – but I have always felt this creates a vicious cycle that's hard to break. The departure of Jewell may have ended this through and I was keen to find out whether the atmosphere had changed after an exciting week at Portman Road.
As I was unable to make what I saw as the most important game of our season, Jordan, who's studying to be a sporting psychologist, agreed to write the report for me. He has missed barely a handful of games so far this season and has witnessed the mood of fans fall lower and lower. Like me, he's always tried to have a positive outlook (despite the recent tough times), but this weekend sounds like it pushed those emotions to the extreme:
"Trying to capture the emotion, happiness and pure rush of Saturday is one of the most difficult things I think I've had to do.
Even after all these years, l sit down of a Friday afternoon and look ahead to the game; usually with excitement, but more recently with apprehension and nervousness. I'm often far too optimistic, but this season has been different to those previous to it and I predicted an actual mid table finish rather than the high hopes of a play-off push.  Rightly so, it seems.
Despite this, I had a feeling we'd break our duck this weekend. Yes I may have said it before Hull too, but I really felt our luck would change. It seems as though this feeling was shared amongst the other Town fans that made the trip to Birmingham from various corners of the country. Chatting with a few in the pub beforehand, I began to get the impression that 'MM' does in fact stand for Merlin Magician and not Mick McCarthy, as the Yorkshire-man famously said in his first press conference at ITFC. 
The mood was the same at St Andrews too, feeling even more buoyant in the build up to kick off: walking into the stand I was hit with a wall of noise as the Blue Army were already in full voice, singing the praises of the new boss.
This continued as the game started, but reached another level when crowd favourite DJ Campbell rifled in the opener. Fans have definitely taken a liking to the QPR loanee I think, more so than any other of the borrowed players brought in by Jewell; he seems to have three songs on the terraces, all sung by the masses, which is a very strange occurrence amongst Town fans!
The change in mood was hard to believe, to be honest. After witnessing fans fighting at recent home games, boos when we lost the ball and constant shouts for both the manager's and chief executive's head, the constant singing and banter I experienced this weekend was exceptional and unlike anything I've experienced for a long while. 
As the game progressed, one Birmingham fan became particularly annoyed by our buoyant mood: anyone that was there will know what to do if ever again they hear the words "Let's all do the chavvy"…!
Come the final whistle, I felt like we had won promotion. After battling and holding on for most of the game, there was a fear we would see the "same old Ipswich" creeping in. But with block after block by the tireless back four, there wasn't that eerie silence that so often hangs over stoppage time for a Town fan. Instead there was singing and the large majority of the travelling thousand were on their feet begging for that final whistle.
If I could describe to you the noise and relief when the final whistle blew then I would, but really can't put into words how it felt
After long trips to Blackpool, Barnsley, Hull and Brighton, coming away feeling like we'd lost even when we hadn't, it was an incredible feeling to finally get that monkey off our backs and come away with 3 points.
These blog posts are normally finished with a choice for man of the match, but I couldn't possibly pick one player who played better than the other. For once, all of the men in white played for the shirt and showed that desire and fight that we had all been longing for. I left St. Andrews on Saturday feeling as though, to some extent, we had our Ipswich back."
It kills me to be missing another important game for The Blues tomorrow night, but if you have enjoyed Jordan's report and you'd like to write one for our game against Palace please get in touch – or @tractorgirlamy8

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