Thursday, 28 April 2016

From Tractor Boy to Tractor Girl

Living in Yorkshire, I find social media gives me an opportunity to connect with a whole range of Ipswich fans that I would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet.

One such fan that I would consider a 'friend' through our conversations online, was Mark Lees who is around the same age as me.

Towards the end of last year, I noticed that his status updates were becoming really quite painful, he seemed to be going through a very unhappy time and it was really sad to watch.

I was rather proud, then, to receive a 'friend request' from Jennifer Jo, who explained on her timeline that she was in the very early stages of moving away from her life as 'Mark' and coming out as a transgender woman. Her posts since that time have been incredibly open and I'm ever so proud of how brave she has been through what must have been a really difficult time.

One thing she mentioned she was nervous about was her friends at the football finding out and how she would be treated at Portman Road. I longed to offer her some support, to go with her to games for a bit of back up because, to be honest, I too was worried about how she would be treated.

After all, football is a man's world. At any match you go to, when there are groups of jovial men and boys gathered together, jokes about gender and sexual preferences are par for the course. At Ipswich, we have an incredibly lovely bunch of fans and such 'jokes' are rare and never meant with any malice, but that underlying mind-set does exist at times.

So, I have to admit that I was nervous for Jennifer. There has been some widespread coverage on the topic of transgender women in the last year or so, after radio presenter Stephanie Hurst went public with the experiences she had while 'coming out' and how it affected her job. But it's generally not a widespread conversation within football circles, I'd say it's a fairly untested subject that many have had very little experience of, including myself.

Earlier this year, I was worried when I noticed a friend of Jennifer's had posted a link to a thread on a Town fan's forum, talking about the transgender fan in the North Stand.

Having previously received some quite nasty comments on the site myself, despite never actually posting on it, I clicked the link and signed myself in - ready to defend Jennifer should the conversation turn inappropriate.

But I needn't have worried, the comments were so supportive and kind, they really made me very proud of our online community and restored my faith in humankind a little! The kind response from Town fans as a whole best summer up by this comment: 'Well done Jen... From my position a few rows back, you didn't seem to get any grief... People clearly recognised you, but were mature enough to respect you for who you are and appreciate you're one of us - a Town fan'.

At a time when the fan-base seems to have been split by opinions over our current manager and owner, it's easy to forget that, actually, we will always be there for each other through times that are hard, because we are all one big family (I know, so corny). We all share a common love for our football club and, no matter your gender, age, or background, that will always be the most important thing.

Today, as Jennifer prepares for her second appearance on the Portman Road pitch as part of the half time competition at Saturday's final home match, I am proud to share with you her thoughts on the experiences she has had over the last few months.

I know she will be given a lot of support at Portman Road on Saturday and I guess I just wanted to post this to say well done to her for being so brave, and thank you Town fans for being so lovely.

**Group hug**

My name is Jennifer Jo Lees, I have been an Ipswich Town supporter since the age of nine and a season ticket holder in the Sir Bobby Robson Lower since 2010.

I have seen some incredible matches at Portman Road in that short time, including the 1-0 win against Arsenal, Pablo's injury time winner vs Coventry and the 5-1 win against West Ham.

Most recently at the Rotherham game, I stepped on the Portman Road pitch at half time with two other people to take part in the penalty competition and successfully scored three penalties past academy keeper Nick Hayes to earn my place in the final.

The walk down the length of the pitch before hand was so unreal and to hear my friends in the Sir Bobby Robson stand chanting, "LEESY!!!! LEESY!!!! LEESY!!!!" was amazing and nerve wracking at the same time!

When I scored the last penalty, I was overcome with such excitement and happiness that I ran towards my fellow fans and celebrated by sliding on my back and raising my arms in victory which was well captured by the EADT photographer.

This was a very big moment for me, not only getting to the final but also walking onto the Portman Road pitch as a transgender woman in front of 20,000 fans.

I was born on the 8th May 1986 as Mark William Lees and have lived in Leiston, Suffolk, all of my life.

After 29 years of hiding my true gender identity and a previous failed attempt in trying to come out, I came out to my family, friends and work colleagues back in October that I am transgender and that I want to go down the very challenging path of becoming a woman.

This was met with a lot of love and support from my friends and work colleagues but as you can imagine was met with a lot a worry from my family. They tried to convince me to snap out of it, but I couldn't pretend to be happy being Mark when I knew deep down I wasn't. I realised I had to stop trying my best to please my family all the time and focus on me.

I remember going to the Huddersfield game at Portman Road. I just felt so blank and lifeless and my friends near me were beginning to notice that something was up with me. I guess it was because I was worried about losing my friends at the football and what they were going to say if I came out to them.

It didn't help matters that I had gone to Blackburn away the previous week and witnessed such an awful game, which we lost 2-0. The journey home just felt so long to be feeling the way I was about myself, I honestly felt like crying and knew that I had to make the big step!

I went out for the first time as Jen on the 30th October as a witch for Halloween and then the following night for a karaoke night at my local. The love and support that was shown to me was amazing and it was a night to remember!

I created a Facebook account for myself as Jen and created a two part coming out video. The friend requests and messages of support poured in!

After a lot of thought, I came out to my fellow Town fans on Facebook and it was met with total support and respect which really meant the world to me!

I spoke to my GP in November and he referred me to a counsellor who I spoke to on the phone in January this year. His challenge to me was to break down the barriers which were holding me back from being Jen at certain times.

And that is exactly what I have done.

I have been living full time as a woman for over six weeks, am now working as a woman and have legally changed my name to be known as Ms Jennifer Jo Lees.

The first Town game I went to as Jen was against Reading when we won 2-1 on the 2nd February. First game as Jen, first win!

I saw a post on TWTD after the game which was entitled, "Fair play to the guy who has come out as a girl in the Sir Bobby Lower"

Some of the comments were really funny and some a little bit offensive, not to mention there was a bit of confusion as to whether I was doing it for a bet or being totally serious. So, I signed up and introduced myself and this was met with total respect afterwards.

The experience of my penalty shootout inspired a lot of support from my fellow town fans and I got stopped a few times afterwards and congratulated.

I was contacted by the EADT later that evening and told that they were doing a piece about my success on the pitch and asked if I could say a few words about it. This lead to the EADT contacting me again to do a two page article in the paper about my life and Radio Suffolk contacting me to do an interview with the lovely Linda Walker for the Etholle George Breakfast Show which also featured a contribution from Kelly Maloney.

I was so pleased to get the chance to do this as my experience will hopefully help and inspire other transgender people who are still in hiding to find their voice and the confidence to come out and be themselves and know that they can do anything if they set their mind to it.

I am loving life so much right now and couldn't be happier!

Bring on the final on April 30th and May 8th when I celebrate my 30th birthday as a woman for the first time surrounded by such amazing friends!
Picture via the East Anglian Daily Times

Monday, 25 April 2016

Town's trip to Middlesbrough earns another surprise point

Ipswich Town's travels during April have brought with them an element of unexpected success. Having earned a point away to play off hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday, Town were to repeat that achievement during their visit to the Riverside this weekend.

A long time ago, I made the decision not to attend the game myself. If I'm being honest, I expected defeat to be a sure thing as we faced a Middlesbrough side who have looked very strong this season.

However, fellow Town fan Maciej Chmielewski did make the trip, as he does the vast majority of Town's away games, particularly those based up here in the north. Maciej has kindly sent over a report of his view of the game:

"Saturday looked set to be the continuation of our recent malaise and the doom and gloom got even bigger when the starting line-up was released:  I was asking myself: 'What am I doing here? I might be better off going back home'.

I worried for young defender Paul Digby [who was making his first start for Ipswich], because he would be a very inexperienced centre back playing against the strong attack of Middlesbrough. I worried about the two defensive minded midfielders of Cole Skuse and Luke Hyam, because it would mean our attacking options would be limited. I was wondering: 'What's the point of that? We have nothing to lose, why not be brave and try to be adventurous?' 

The first five minutes were promising as we were virtually all in their half, we even had a shot on target from David McGoldrick, albeit one that was easy to save. But it was only for the first few minutes of play, after that we were on the back foot for the entire first half. A combination of Bart Bialkowski's fine saves, Boro wasting their chances, and pure luck meant the first half ended goalless.
We had literally nothing to offer up front, it was like awaiting execution and there is not much to report from the first 45 minutes. Bialkowski parried away Stewart Downing's shot and also won a one-on-one situation with former Town youngster Jordan Rhodes, the latter having lots of time to choose his shooting option but failing to take one. Digby blocked Emilio Nsue's shot, Albert Adomah wasted a glorious chance, the diving idiot Rhodes fell down as if he'd been shot and pathetically waved to the ref afterwards. Their first goal was only a matter of time. 

Adomah caused us lots of problems on his side, keeping Jonas Knudsen really busy dealing with that, I dare say that if Adomah had been facing Luke Chambers it would have been far more fruitful for them. As for Chambers, once again he was poor: his ball distribution was pathetic, even simple passes to Liam Feeney were beyond his abilities. 

Meanwhile Digby was fine, but looked shy and too scared to make a mistake. 

There was absolutely nothing in the centre of our midfield. We were flattered not to have been losing at half time. Very, very slow and sluggish. There was one surprising decision from Mick, he played Hyam in an advanced role that was to be close to their box, with Bru playing behind him. Perhaps this was Mick's 'end-of-season experiment', however it didn't turn out to be anything special. 

I guess Mick must have either reprimanded or encouraged players in the dressing room, as we looked significantly better from the beginning of the second half. Not only were the first few minutes promising, but this time that was the case for almost the whole of the remainder of the match.

We had been on the back foot in the first half, but after the break we restricted them and limited their chances on goal. Yes, Middlesbrough had more possession but they somehow lacked any ideas for breaking us down. Bialkowski was finally beaten by Rhodes, but the ball bounced off the post, while David Nugent also wasted a header a couple of minutes from time. That was all they had to offer.

Ipswich were far more encouraging, there were a few attempts to create quick counter attacks from Feeney on the right wing and Freddie Sears on the left. Given how slow we generally are in the midfield, these moves were impressively quick. We may have failed to test Boro keeper Konstantopoulos properly, but we kept their defence on their toes.

I think there were two things preventing us from grabbing the win: First, the lack of killer passes, particularly from Sears. We were fine until we approached their box, but from that point we lacked a final idea and there were a couple of moments where a killer cross from Sears would have made all the difference. His wastefulness was annoying, but on the other hand his proper role is receiving balls, not delivering them. 

Secondly, there was the lack of support from central midfield. Grant Leadbitter, who himself didn't have an exceptional afternoon for Middlesbrough, would still have made a big difference in our midfield. We miss the ilk of a player like him and I don't know why he was booed by a few Town fans today. 

For us, McGoldrick was the best player: dear, oh dear, how badly did we miss him this season? He has a very strong tendency to keep the ball on the deck and dribble with it, he also had a fine moment when he went past three defenders but was left with no space to either shoot or pass the ball.

It really was a fine effort from him and, for me, he was our man of the match, alongside Bialkowski. When he operates with the ball, you always have a hope that he can produce something out of the blue. As well as this, Tommy Smith, who had a horrid time at Riverside last season when we lost 1-4, was very assured. He is a different player to the one who was embarrassed by Bamford 13 months ago. 
Meanwhile, Teddy Bishop's late introduction turned out to be positive as his effort was decent, he was hungry for every ball and showed good off-the-ball movement. 

The final result may not be a fair reflection of the game: 1-0 to Middlesbrough would have been more true given their first half domination but we certainly deserved something for the second half display. There are umpteen Town fans who are obsessed about the style in which we gain the points so they should know that hoof-ball wasn't our domain this weekend. A bit of hoof-ball, a bit of football on the deck, a bit of everything. 

Also loads of Town supporters have been very critical of the team and Mick lately, but we can't be critical after Saturday. I'm not happy myself with some issues particularly Evans' transfer policy and some of Mick's team decisions, but the team deserves praise for the courage they have shown in the second half. Of course, not everything was perfect, but certainly better than some recent performances. 

I admit to being a bit greedy in the second half when I saw how much we had improved. A smash-and-grab win would somewhat have been a little payback for Bosko Jankovic, but it ended how it ended. A point that had looked unlikely prior to the game and during the first half. 

With a fully fit McGoldrick and Bishop next season and a little bit of financial help from Evans (we need a ball operator in central midfield and a couple of wingers) we may successfully challenge for promotion."

Thank you ever so much to Maciej for the insightful report and to Jackie who once again provided the match-day photos. I am sadly missing our final home game of the season next Saturday, so if you'd like to let us know how the day goes please do get in touch via Twitter @tractorgirlamy8

Monday, 18 April 2016

Dozzell Dazzles a shocked Sheffield Wednesday

In 1984, the year I was born, an Ipswich Town legend began. At the tender age of 16, Jason Dozzell, who went on to make 348 appearances for the club, made his debut and became the youngest player to score in the English top flight (a record he still holds today).

In 2016, the year my own child is due to be born, history has repeated itself. Also at the tender age of 16, Jason's son Andre scored for his Dad's former club - rescuing a point in their game away at Sheffield Wednesday.

Speaking to my Dad in our traditional post-match debrief, I asked if he remembered the day Jason had scored and if there was much excitement around it. "Oh yes, there was a lot of fuss. There were cameras and even TV crews outside Chantry High School, everyone was very pleased'.

I wonder how many times Jason has rerun that first game in his head this week? How amazing it must feel to know his own son now has those same memories to look back on. How amazing it must have been for him to be in the stands to see Andre score for the club with which he has such a long-standing relationship.

A clearly emotional Dozzell, captured by @tractorgirl49, during the celebrations for Town's equaliser.
Such a lovely story has, of course, earned the attention of the media and I'm chuffed to have been there to witness it in person. It's all very exciting, but it's important to focus on what happens next for the youngster.

Interested in Jason's climb to success, I asked my Dad how he had performed in the games following his debut. 'I don't think he walked straight into the first team after that, but he made three or four more appearances that season. Ipswich were about to be in a relegation battle, so for the final ten games he was left out and, of course, we survived'.

There is a fear that Andre, and other youngsters like him, will be left on the sidelines as McCarthy prefers to opt for older, more experienced players. Fans, understandably, don't want to see the youngster dropped from the team now as they would view it as a step backwards for the youth players. I'm inclined to argue that McCarthy should not feel pushed into bringing Andre into the first team if it is too soon.

As much as I enjoyed seeing him play on Saturday, he did look a little overwhelmed when he came on at the start of the second half. That's not a criticism of course, it's a huge step up to the first team and will take some time, I just hope the expectations of the fans doesn't add too much pressure to that.

Picture captured by @tractorgirl49

With all the excitement around that special moment, you'd be forgiven for thinking that that was the only significant point of the game. From a Town point of view, you'd be right, not a lot else happened.

We started the game fairly brightly, with the kind of passing football that I haven't seen in any of our games since the start of 2016. The play resulted in a chance for Freddie Sears at the other end of the pitch to our away stand, but there were few other real chances. I was enjoying the football, possibly for the first time since Rotherham, but sadly that was short lived.

As the game settled, we sat further and further back in our own half, inviting pressure from a Wednesday side that currently sit comfortably in the play off places. There were several chances for the home side: with the ball looking like it crossed the line in one goal mouth scramble, only for Bart to save it/swiftly pop it back on the right side of the goal line. A couple of defensive errors later and Town found themselves a goal down as the game reached half time.

As a friend of mine tweeted during the break: 'We looked alright in patches, but forgot what football was in others'.

The second half continued in much the same way, with the Owls having the run of the ball and our defence was looking slowly more nervous. I wrote after the Brentford game about the lack of confidence our players are experiencing at the moment and this was on show once again on Saturday. Town should have been two goals behind but an excellent stop from Bart to deny Forestieri kept them in the game.

At the other end of the pitch, there were some chances for Town, though few and far between. I would say that all of our attacking moves revolved around David McGoldrick and Liam Feeney: their nice, passing football allowed us to turn Wednesday into the nervous side for short periods of time.

Liam Feeney and Luke Chambers gear up for the second half, captured by @tractorgirl49

Feeney, my man of the match, was key to the far more forward-playing approach that was on show, the issue being that he was often left to deal with the ball on his own. As soon as he had the ball at his feet, Sears and McGoldrick seemed to disappear off towards the goal rather than providing options to take Feeney and the ball with them. All too often, Feeney had to face the Wednesday defenders with little or no support. Bru should be given credit for the support he did offer, as well as Knudsen, but that generally lead to very little because the strikers had gone out of reach.

That said, I was impressed by the way Didzy and Feeney played together, as I had been for the final fifteen minutes of Town's game against Brentford last week, and was pleased to see them given a full match together this weekend. This also improved somewhat with the addition of Dozzell, who joined with Didzy and Feeney to create some nice moments of play during the second half. This was never more evident of course than in Feeney's assist for the goal, which Andre coolly slotted into the net right in front of the relieved and ecstatic Town fans.

I will keep saying it but it was such a special moment, as I don't think the travelling Tractorboys and girls had expected anything less than a defeat on their visit to Hillsborough.

Picture captured by @tractorgirl49

It has always been a nice away day, a stadium with such history in a city where there is so much to see and so many places to drink will always create a nice day out and a happy atmosphere.

In stark contrast to the quiet experience of the home fans last week, this crowd seemed determined to enjoy themselves watching their team play. The criticisms of the current team performances were still there, of course, but it was done with humour and a little sarcasm.

For the first time in a long time, I have experienced a Town game where there was no pressure or worry, little anger at the mistakes made and certainly no 'booing' the players. Instead, fans joined together in giggly renditions of old chants that once were heard in the stands of the Premier League Ipswich: Finidi George, Herman Hreidarsson and Jim Magilton were among the stars being given the nod (I defy you not to smile at the thought of the Finidi George on his big tractor).

During the second half, helped no doubt by the half time beers, the mood lifted even further as the performance on the pitch looked less and less likely to give us anything to cheer about. It built to a sarcastic chorus of 'let's pretend we scored a goal', followed by the fans in the way stand erupting in unison to celebrate a goal that, honestly, I don't think any of us thought was coming.

Luckily, Andre proved us wrong providing a much deserved reward for the away support who hadn't stopped making noise for most of the game. You could tell this was a special moment for them as much as it was for Jason and Andre. The young lad has been talked about for many weeks and there was a huge cheer when he came onto the pitch; even before the goal he had become a favourite for the fans.

An instant hero captured by @tractorgirl49

It was a shame, then, that the mood was somewhat dampened by the behaviour of another of our players in the dying moments of the game.

In what was literally the final move of injury time, Knudsen had possession of the ball on the left hand side, with an unmarked Brett Pitman running towards the right of the goal. Knudsen took a shot, which went just wide of the post, leaving Pitman absolutely fuming.

 I can understand his frustration, this was a golden opportunity for Town to steal all three points and renew a tiny bit of light for their play-off hopes. Some say his angry reaction to Knudsen's failure to pass to him was passionate and justified, but I'm afraid I just can't see it that way.

Pitman followed his teammate down the pitch, gesturing wildly. Knudsen appeared, to me, to raise his hand in apology, but this did not calm the striker. Instead, McGoldrick was forced to intervene, followed by Terry Connor before, as far as I could see, Brett left the pitch without acknowledging any other players.

Pitman is calmed at full time by Terry Connor, while McCarthy shakes the hand of young defender Digby,
picture captured by @tractorgirl49

For me, it's inexcusable, it's unprofessional and it just isn't good enough; I don't want to see any of our players behaving like that while representing our club. If I had behaved like that while working for my former employer (and believe me, there were times where my colleagues had wound me up just as much), I would have certainly found myself being disciplined.

There doesn't seem to have been too much of a response from the club regarding the incident, so one can only assume that Mick has dealt with it using his vast man management experience. I'd like to think Brett will have apologised to Jonas once he had calmed down, but I would not be happy to see him behave like that again, towards team mates, opposition players, managers and officials alike.

With time for that game to sink in, I'm pleased that the thing that stands out in my mind was the unity and excitement of seeing one of our own young players score a goal on his debut.

My Dad sent me a text at full time which read: 'You were there to see it, no one can take that away from you now'.

How true, history was made and I was there to see it. How exciting it is to think of the future special moments that young boy could bring to our club.

Fingers crossed.


Having enjoyed a rare two consecutive games watching Town from the stands, I know take a rest from travelling to support the boys until the final game of the season at Derby. If you fancy having a go at writing a match report, do get in touch. I know lots of Town fans who'd be eager to hear your thoughts, not just me!


Friday, 15 April 2016

Hyam's head was gone against Brentford, but he wasn't alone

Almost a year ago, Ipswich Town's season was essentially ended when defender Christophe Berra earned a red card in the second leg of the play off finals against Norwich.

It's somewhat fitting then, that their following season should also be essentially ended with a red card. However, the circumstances they find themselves in 11 months later are very different.

When Luke Hyam's angry reaction to a nasty tackle by Brentford midfielder Ryan Woods earned him an early bath, it seemed a feeling of inevitability seeped in at Portman Road. With ten men, fans could only assume this match was going to end in defeat for Town.

I, personally, had no qualms with the red card itself: Hyam was on a warning and should have known better than to allow himself to react in the way he did. The first challenge, however, was the subject of much debate which lead to criticism of Hyam by Brentford staff and (a minority of) Ipswich fans.

At the time, I had a fairly good view of the tackle which left Alan Judge with a broken leg and felt it was firm but fair. As Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy told the press after the game: "I don’t think it is [a naughty tackle]. I think he’s won the ball. I’ve actually complained to the referee as to why it’s a booking if he’s won the ball."

McCarthy went on to explain that Hyam was devastated about the tackle and, for me, that shows there was no intent to harm. Luke has told the club website he'd like to apologise to Judge himself, saying 'I feel distraught over it. It was distressing to see and definitely affected me... I've been out injured for a year myself and the last thing I want to see is a fellow pro getting injured like that'.

That's one view of the incident, of course, and the Brentford media have portrayed a very different one: 'Ipswich man's horror tackle' was the headline from Get West London, who claimed Judge's broken leg was suffered 'after a wild and reckless challenge from Luke Hyam two minutes into the contest'.

In that same article, Brentford's Alan McCormack admits that he and Woods targeted Hyam for the remainder of the first half: “Everyone was very annoyed with the player... our players could have got into trouble as they wanted to look after Judgey and make sure that it's not forgotten. I'm not saying revenge is sweet but it might be for the best he wasn't on the pitch too much longer.”

The latest news on Judge is that he has undergone surgery on his leg and Brentford expect him to make a full recovery. It'll be a huge setback though, especially as he will now miss the opportunity to play in the Euros, so I'm sure we all wish him a speedy recovery.

From a Town point of view, this injury will have had a huge affect on Hyam. How he, and indeed the whole team, have handled the comments and press attention this week will be really important.

The affect of the injury though was already being felt during the game on Saturday. Despite it taking place so early on, I think it shaped the game. 

McCormack's rather unprofessional comments after the game are evidence that, following Judge's injury, Brentford set their sights on Hyam. That resulted, of course, in Woods' nasty tackle and Hyam's sending off. From there I couldn't help but feel a heavy defeat was on the cards, the subdued atmosphere under the stands at half time suggested I wasn't alone in that feeling.

Sometimes a red card can actually lead to a more determined performance from the side; players rearrange themselves quickly to cover and, knowing they are at a disadvantage to their opponents, they step up their efforts.

We've seen this from Town a few times in recent years, that red card against Norwich being a good example. Despite being a man down, we held our own and I think the players did themselves proud that day. It was very different circumstances, of course, with a lot more riding on the result, but it showed it could be done and, in the end, the hard graft in Town succumbed to little more than the amount of money on display in the City side. (In my completely unbiased opinion!)

It's strange to think that in a matter of months we have gone from a side that showed some element of fight to a team that seemed to be truly lacking something.

Did we lack quality? Possibly, but that was true of both sides. It's amazing to think last year this would have been a game between two play off sides: neither looked good enough for them on Saturday. So I don't think it was lack of quality that caused the defeat.

Nor was it effort, the suggestion that our players don't put in the effort required to win matches really makes me quite angry. Gone are the days of Paul Jewell, when players played for themselves and not the club. Gone, too, are the days of Keane when any passion was extinguished by poor man management. Claiming this team demonstrates those same attributes, after the passion they have shown to turn our fortunes around during the last three years, is an insult. So no, it wasn't lack of effort that caused the defeat.

What I believe caused it was the lack of confidence: players, fans and manager alike. Hyam has admitted that his 'head had gone' after the incident, but I wonder if them same could be said for his colleagues too? Their confidence and focus had gone, perhaps even before the game.

It's clearly a result of the recent bad run of performances and mounting pressure as the play offs slip further from our hands. I guess the sending off was the final obstacle between us and the top six and we just don't have the get up and go this year to get past that.

So who is to blame for that lack of confidence? Those of you who know me will know I often point to the effect the mood of the fans can have on performances (and I stand by that view), but I don't think that was the cause this weekend.

Following recent reports of fans 'booing' the players during and after the game, Jonathan Douglas in particular, I'd expected to feel frustrated at hearing this on my latest visit to Portman Road. But, truthfully, it wasn't all that bad.

When his name was read out from the team sheet at the start of the match, I heard a distinct 'boo' from the lower tier of the Sir Bobby Robson stand and, in my opinion, that's really despicable. He'd been dropped from the first team as so many fans had been calling for in recent weeks - what more do they want? More importantly though, I don't understand how any 'fan' can be so nasty to their own player. Odd people.

As I say though, that was the only real negativity I heard on the day. For the most part all I heard was, as had been described to me on Twitter, collective sounds of frustration from the long suffering Town faithful.  I have to confess, I caught myself a number of times groaning 'argh, sort it out Town'.

The frustration is understandable and, actually, there were some nice moments of support that made me smile, knowing the 'old faithful' will always be there for their Town. It wasn't the goose-bump inducing, roaring atmosphere that it was this time last year, but it was nice nonetheless.
If the fans aren't to blame for the recent drop in confidence is the manager? Well, yes, Mick does need to take responsibility for it.
He makes the decisions on which players are named in the team, he instructs them on the style of play they should adopt and, ultimately, it is his job to inspire the players to be the best they can be. They aren't cutting it at the moment and he should be doing his best to sort that.
But do I blame him for the fact that Town now look extremely unlikely to make the play offs? No, not really.
So many factors have played a part this year in our lack of success compared to last year: injuries, lack of spending, other teams around us spending, some really late goals... the list goes on. Mick's decisions are undoubtedly one of those factors, but I can't bring myself to blame him or feel angry with him. He has proven success at this level, he has worked miracles at Town and he's a very honest and open manager. I like him, a lot.
Saturday, for me, was the end of the season, the day the final specks of hope that we might still make the play offs bit the dust and, honestly, I wasn't all that sad. I've accepted our fate with ease and perhaps even a guilty sense of relief that I won't be needing to find the energy and cash required to get through the play offs again this year.
Now that it's done I guess it's time to see the season out and look to the summer.
We go again.