Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Plough Offs Part Two - The Day We Caught The Train

The most important Old Farm derby ever?

Once again the Sky cameras are only interested in Norwich

Here we go then
It's never easy losing a play-off semi-final, I know I've seen Ipswich lose lot's of them over the years, losing this one to our most hated rivals was right up there, the only consolation is that we weren't expected to win. Having said all of that enduring those final fifteen minutes or so at Carrow Road on Saturday was horrible.
Norwich were the bookies favourites to get to Wembley and for the first one hundred and forty minutes of the two legged tie we certainly made it hard for them, then it all went tits up in a flash.
At half-time I had felt quietly confident that we would win the match, all be it with a late goal, but things changed dramatically after the re-start. In fairness the Canaries (I'm not going to get all bitter and call them the scum) started the second half like they had had a proverbial rocket up their arses (they probably had).
When  Christophe Berra handled Nathan Redmond's goal bound shot on the line and was shown a straight red card in the forty-ninth minute there was a feeling that surely our chance of a trip to the final against Middlesbrough  had gone.
Wes Hoolahan converted the resultant penalty and all of a sudden we were given a mountain to climb. Tommy Smith did however give us a bit of hope when he levelled the match on the hour mark, scoring a well taken close range goal, after latching on to Daryl Murphy’s flick from Teddy Bishop's free-kick. That certainly silenced those chirpy budgies for a little while.
Unfortunately for us Redmond restored their lead within just four minutes, surely we wouldn't be able to mount another challenge?
Our fate was eventually sealed with sixteen minutes remaining when Cameron Jerome calmly slipped the ball into the Town net when put through with a well measured pass from Redmond (I'm starting to take a real dislike to him!) 

The budgie fans didn't really rub our noses in it as much as I expected, I'm sure that we would have been far more vociferous had the shoe been on the other foot! They had a feeble attempt at a pitch invasion at the final whistle and were more interested in taking selfies than abusing us. Oh and there was that yellow & green banner which read '4-1, 1-5, 9-2’ (reference to their two victories over us in 2010/11). Well at least it proves that they can add up.
So it’s now over to Grant Leadbitter, who played for Ipswich in those two games in the 2010/11 season, to take revenge on our behalf and condemn those chirpy bonos to another season in the Championship. Oh how nice it would be to play them next season and be able to sing ‘We saw you cry on the tele’!

Other than the result it was a good day out for me & Sharon, all be it a long one. We caught the 9.08am train to Norwich and once there walked to the Riverside to get some breakfast. There's no shortage of bars and restaurants there and we ended up in the Coast to Coast American Restaurant & Bar. We had a beer at the bar while we waited for a table became available.
Sharon noted that apart from the staff we appeared to be the only people not from Norfolk inside there! Once seated we ordered breakfast and more beers, after another beer and about an hours wait we finally gave up and told the waitress that we were leaving. She was very apologetic and told us that there would be no charge for the drinks that we had had,  I gave her a ten pound tip - it wasn’t her fault after all! In the end we had to settle for a hot dog and a bacon roll outside the ground as time was marching on.

Train beer

Found myself in a strange town

Coast to Coast selfie
Free drinks!

'Now come you here'

Sammy V & Sharon 
After the game we caught a train back to Ipswich, a quiet journey if ever there was one. We walked past Portman Road and were in Degeros at about 4pm - why not? Drowning our sorrows and having a post-mortem with some of the BMFC boys. Max was away in Budapest for Schollar's stag weekend and rang me while we were there, they had watched the game in a bar over there.
We went to the K Bar after that and had some food before getting a taxi back home at 8pm. It was very much a case of in the back door, feed Rudie and out of the front door, as we had to go to the Bell to have a birthday drink with Gordon who was celebrating his eightieth birthday.

Back to the future

K Bar selfie

At last something decent to eat

Happy birthday to Gordon - singing 'The Year That Clayton Delaney Died'

We finally got back home after mid-night and attempted to have yet another beer, but we were both beaten! Suffice to say that Sunday was a very lethargic day!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Plough Offs Part One - 'What A Day To Be Alive'

After a ten year wait we've made it to the play-offs again, with a two legged semi-final versus Norwich the prize. Oh the pain! Oh the joy! Oh the excitement! No doubt we'll experience both during the next seven days, but which emotion will come out on top?

Saturday started with Sharon cooking a fried breakfast for Max and six of his mates (which had to be on the table for 8am, enabling them to then be in town for 9am, when the pubs opened). I went for a run while she was happily beavering away at the cooker! I had intended to go to my normal 8am Christchurch Park session, but at Sharon's request changed my mind and I did my own four miler around Kesgrave which meant that I was back home in time to wash up, with the help of Tracey who had also got an invite to breakfast - although to the second sitting.

We caught the Park & Ride and were in town at around 10am, the pubs were starting to get lively and there was a good buzz about the place. Degeros, was packed and a nightmare getting served so we only stopped there for one drink, before heading to The Thomas Wolsey a little further down St Nicholas Street, it wasn't quite so busy in there and they were serving beer in glass rather than plastic.
Saturday would have been Kev & Tracey's wedding anniversary, so before we went into the ground we visited his brick which is on the wall of The Sir Bobby Robson Stand (aka The North Stand). Kev would have loved these play-offs against the Budgies, he'd have undoubtably been a nightmare as well! Ironically enough Tracey & Sharon's seats were directly behind where he had his season ticket.

It was great to see Portman Road completely sold out and the atmosphere was brilliant as the two teams walked out onto the pitch prior to the 12.15pm kick-off.
A frantic first half was brought to a halt after half an hour when Luke Varney suddenly went down in agony. He was taken away on a stretcher after receiving treatment on the pitch for several minutes, it was later confirmed that he had a ruptured achilles, poor lad.
A Tommy Smith slip on the left touch line led to Norwich taking a forty-first minute lead, Cameron Jerome took full advantage and crossed the ball to the advancing Jonny Howson who passed the ball into the Ipswich net, somewhat against the run of play.
Their lead only lasted until four minutes into first-half injury time, Paul Anderson (on for the unfortunate Varney) slammed a rebound into the back of the net from six yards out, sending Portman Road wild.
The second half was a lot more tense with both sides having chances to take the lead and it became clear that neither team wanted to loose the tie in the first leg. A draw was a fair result and sets up a one off 'all to play' for game next Saturday at Carrow Road. Norwich are without doubt the pundits choice to reach Wembley, having been relegated from The Premier League last season they were the favourites for automatic promotion, they also have home advantage. Let's hope that the pressure gets to them!

Following the match we made our way back to Degeros where there was a very happy atmosphere, which was lifted even higher when John Wark and Alan Brazil turned up and did an impromptu q&a session, which turned into them recounting their derby day memories.

We had intended to catch the last Park & Ride bus back to Kesgrave before 7pm but we were having such a good time that we ended up walking down to the waterfront where we went to the newly opened Grand Central for cocktails and then onto Isaacs - well it's been a decade since we were in the play-offs! Why not make the most of them?
As if by magic the tickets for the second leg were laying on the mat when we got home, I had wondered if it was a foolish idea to go to Norwich, but with everything still in the balance I'm really glad I am. Just think, winning a penalty shoot-out at the Barclay end next week!
 'What A Day To Be Alive' - Max Wilding