Ipswich Town fan Karl Fuller returns for a new season of offering his thoughts on the Blues…
Football returned on Saturday and boy, did it feel good for the most part. Welcome to a 10th season of the column, one I am sincerely hoping will be much better for us all.
I’ve waited over a year and a half to notch up my 800th Ipswich Town game and it was an occasion that will be remembered for our return to Portman Road.
As I stood on the platform at Manningtree station looking across the idyllic setting of rain-soaked fields before gazing out of the train window at the equally picturesque scene of high tide on the Stour, I wondered what would be in store on the first day of our new era.
Would our bubble be pierced by a newly-promoted Morecambe outfit or would our new team need time to settle before grinding out a result?
I guess the latter applied, even if not all three points would come our way.
My pre-match theme seemed to involve anything wet. Those fields, that river, me after my saturated walk to a new hostelry in the town centre, where I was delighted to find my new favourite cider, having only recently discovered it at a local village pub. That was the most welcome wet stuff of the day!
It’s usually the pub that is the cause of it being extremely rare for me to be at my seat at kick-off. But on this occasion, with a big crowd and additional time required to enter the stadium due to COVID checks, we left incredibly early.
The walk from the town to the ground had the atmosphere I’ve only ever really heard on derby day. There were pockets of singing ringing around and the air whiffed of excitement and anticipation. Who’d have thought we’d experience this in League One, against Morecambe?
As we arrived at the back of the North Stand, it was very busy – we had made the right decision. On entering the stand, the concourse was in full voice and with the beers flying through the air, I feared getting wet again.
I made for my seat where for the first time since early last year, I saw my friend of 30 years Jason and we hugged like we had discovered a member of family that we never knew we had. The emotions of the day were not to end there.
As firstly Paul Cook entered the arena to a cacophony of noise, the players soon followed to rapturous applause. The goose bumps on my 28 year-old son, who has seen naff all in his time as a Town fan, were no doubt repeated on the arms of thousands of the rest of us, this is what we had yearned for in such a long time.
The summer brought us the devastatingly sad news of the passing of Ipswich and England legend Paul Mariner. Just three years ago, I attended his private 65th birthday meal, a privilege I will never forget. His minute’s applause was immaculate and I shed a metaphorical tear for one of our greatest.
With the adrenaline fully charged, kick-off came and we were about to see day one of this new team which saw no fewer than eight starters making their debuts.
The first-half proved to be 45 minutes of coming back down from the highs of the day thus far as we watched patiently for those moments to get bums off seats or, in our case, feet off the floor.
But in truth, those moments would have to wait until the second-half. The move for our first goal was first-class. If that’s what we’ve got to look forward to moving forward then bring it on.
After Morecambe had scored their second from another defensive error, I think we could be forgiven for fearing the worst.
We are Ipswich after all. But the script was written for Macauley Bonne to come off the bench and score in injury-time to salvage a point. How awesome that must have felt for him.
A point gained and the season up and running. I look forward to many more days like this with just the small matter of victories to make those days perfect.