Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Sam & Max - Four Pubs Per Gallon

I'd been looking forward to going to Griffin Park ever since Brentford got promoted from League One last season. I would have preferred it to have been played on a Saturday afternoon, with a 3 o'clock kick-off, but hey! As it was, the game was scheduled for Boxing Day with a 1 o'clock kick-off.

Sam was home from Hanoi for Christmas, his first Christmas in England for four years (as he reminded us on more than one occasion!) So along with Max we set of for London just before 9am, leaving Sharon at home to have a bit of peace and quiet (her choice). She was invited, but declined, thinking that it was only to be our 'designated' driver, therefore allowing us three to do the 'Four Pub Challenge'.

Brentford is the only football club in England with a pub at every corner of the ground and I'm led to believe by Max that to do the 'Four Pub Challenge' correctly you have to have a pint at every pub, starting an hour before the match and be in the ground ready for the kick-off, that's no mean feat.
We arrived in Brentford and were parked before 11am. Sam & Max's challenge (I was excused as driver) started at The Royal Oak, before moving on to The New Inn, The Princess Royal and finally The Griffin (nearest to the away end). We had decided not to have any time constraints on the challenge, instead just enjoy the experience!

Pub number one - The Royal Oak

'I'll have a' half'

Pub number two - The New Inn

Pub number three - The Princess Royal

Pub number four The Griffin 

As driver I had two half's, a Lime & Soda and a Coke!
On reflection It certainly would be a challenge to get to get to all four pubs, get served, down the pint and visit the loo, all within an hour. Any Ipswich fans taking part may well have missed Daryl Murphy's first goal - as he only took eighteen seconds to score it!

What a great start and better was to come, Murphy doubled the lead after twenty-one minutes and Paul Anderson added a third with just half an hour played, not bad when you consider that Brentford were third in the league.
The score stayed that way until the eighty-first minute, Bee's Sam Saunders got a goal back for  the hosts with a deflected shot, which left Town's keeper (and winner of Beard Of the Year) Bartosz Bialkowski stranded.
On the attack again

'We all dream of a team of Tommy Smith's'
Any fears of a Brentford comeback were over before they even got started, Tommy Smith added a fourth Ipswich goal within two minutes of the re-start, to allay any fears. That wasn't the end of the scoring however, Saunders added his second goal of the afternoon in the ninetieth minute, to make the final score 4-2 to the temporarily top of the league Ipswich! (Bournemouth's match at home to Fulham was a 3 o'clock kick-off.)

'Top of the league and avin' a laugh'

Four pubs, eight pints

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

What's The Frequency Kenneth?

The Salvation Army band outside Portman Road - it must be Christmas

For the first time since Joe Royal's day, we had the chance to top the league at Christmas. We were sitting in fourth place going into the match, against second placed Middlesborough. Norwich had done their bit by drawing at third placed Derby in the lunchtime kick-off (so neighbourly of them!)

Grant Leadbitter - now captain of Middlesborough

Former Town skipper Grant Leadbitter got a frosty reception from the majority of the twenty thousand plus crowd inside Portman Road. There are not many players that return to Ipswich and get such a hostile welcome, but he has still not been forgiven for asking for more money as his contract was coming to an end in 2012. It was quite pleasing to see him to fluff his first corner of the game in front of the North Stand, something he often use to do in a blue shirt.
Not for the first time this season Daryl Murphy gave us a deserving lead. Midway through the first half he knocked in a loose ball from six yards out.
The Borough defence were finding life very difficult containing Ipswich's front pairing and were grateful to the referee for a dodgy decision, when he waved away, what looked to be a clear penalty. David  McGoldrick was tripped in the box, by the already booked, Ken Omeruo, but rather than award the spot kick and give the defender his marching orders he booked McGoldrick for diving! McGoldrick was bemused by the decision to put it mildly.
In first half injury time the two shortest players on the pitch combined to double Ipswich's lead, Teddy Bishop swung in a cross, which all, five feet seven of Jay Tabb (is he really that tall?) headed into the Teesiders net!

Half time and it's The Co-op bands turn to play carols

I don't know why? But I never felt comfortable during the second half, Middlesborough came out and looked more like a side challenging for promotion,. They had some good passing moves and I got the feeling that if they managed to score a goal, then the momentum would swing their way. 
Borough, especially Omeruo, got very lucky again after the defender blatantly brought Bishop down on the edge of the area. The ref awarded a free kick, but he once again chose not to book Omeruo which incensed the Town fans, in their opinion he had bottled it, a decision acknowledged by the visitors manager, Aitor Karanka, who immediately substituted his beleaguered defender, before the resultant free kick could be taken.
With twenty minutes remaining, Ipswich almost got the vital third goal, which would have put the result beyond doubt. Leadbitter cleared Murphy's header off the line and Tommy Smith's follow up shot hit the post before rebounding away from trouble.
As it turned out my anxiety was ill formed, Town were able to contain the Middlesborough threat and keeper Bartosz Bialkowski kept his fifth clean sheet of the eight starts he has enjoyed since replacing Dean Gerkin between the sticks.

Elsewhere, in the top versus bottom, 'battle of the beaches', Bournemouth beat Blackpool 6-1 away from home, meaning that they and not us sit on top of the Championship tree at Christmas.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Daryl Fixed It For Me

How's about that then guys and gals?
Town came from behind (no bum intended) and wiped 'Dirty Leeds' away with our biggest victory of the season so far.
It was the sort of afternoon that we haven't witnessed for a few years at Portman Road, a great game, great result, all mixed in with some daring to dream, plenty of banter and an exchange of insults between both sets of supporters. My season ticket is proving to be good value this season.
As usual there was the strong vocal following from Yorkshire - eighteen hundred and thirty-five of them. We had the usual 'We all hate Leeds' song, along with the non pc 'He's one of your own, he's one of your own, Jimmy Saville, he's one of your own' and 'He could your dad...' don't know where that came from? Goodness gracious
As it 'appens, Sharon missed Mirco Antenucci's fourth minute goal which gave the visitors a shock early lead (she was still in Planet Blue buying Christmas presents!) It was a sloppy goal to concede, from what has become a real solid defence of late. Just for a little while there I wondered if the blue bubble had burst - stupid boy!
Fear not, Daryl Murphy levelled things up with a towering header just eight minutes later. David McGoldrick then put us ahead from the penalty spot in the twenty-sixth minute, that after Stephen Warnock's clumsy challenge on Paul Anderson in the box.
Murphy sent the fans into the half-time break even more happy after he scored his second goal of the afternoon, which makes him the leagues top marksman on thirteen for the season so far. What a turnaround that half was.
The second half started as the first half had ended -  with Ipswich scoring, Christophe Berra this time, tapping in Tommy Smiths goal bound header, just to make sure!
From then on it was all Ipswich, truth be told we probably should have scored a couple more goals, our football certainly deserved it. There were plenty of 'ole's' from the crowd as Town passed the ball around with ease, at times taking the piss out of Leeds with fancy flicks and tricks.
The win keeps us in second place and we're now six points above seventh spot in the league, which is probably the more realistic way to look at things, or is it? Now then, now then!

The teams lining up for the #FootballRemembers photo


Fourth goal celebrations

Another 'Fist pump' from Luke Chambers

Whose Christmas presents are in the bag?

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Noel Noel... Tis The Season To Be Jolly?

Things like this just don't happen to us! Mick McCarthy signs a player on Thursday, puts him on the bench Saturday, brings him on after eighty-four minutes, he then scores the winning goal in the ninety-fifth minute - all of this live on Sky TV! Take a bow Noel Hunt.
It certainly made our lunchtime drinks in Degeros flow!
We got home just in time to learn results elsewhere had gone our way and that we are now in second place, just one point below leaders Derby.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Bishop Pops His Cherry

This was my first away game of the season. A sell out crowd at Dean Court in a second versus fourth place encounter, so all the ingredients for a good match.
Will I see a better game this season? I wonder?
Bournemouth are a very good football team, as in they play really good football and they got at us right from the start, Matt Richie hit the bar within a minute or so and Yann Kermorgant gave them the lead almost immediately afterwards with a spectacular overhead kick.
Everytime I hear Kermorgant's name I think about the YouTube video posted on there by a Leicester fan, well worth a watch, I've posted a link to it at the bottom of this post. 
Town were really up against it and had to dig in and concentrate. It probably took us half an hour or so to get into the match and stifle the Cherries fast flowing and pleasing on the eye brand of football.
Bartosz Bialkowski was a busy man in the Ipswich goal and pulled off several decent saves, to go in at half-time just a goal down was no mean feat.
Having said all of that we did create one or two chances of our own, particularly from set pieces. Paul Anderson, recalled to the team, had a very good game especially with his dead ball deliveries.
It was the visitors who looked the sharper after the break and got an equaliser through Teddy Bishop (who had replaced the injured Kevin Bru after just seventeen minutes). It was eighteen year old Bishop's first senior goal for Ipswich.
For the first time during the afternoon the home crowd were quiet and I could sense a little nervousness. However this only lasted for about four minutes before Richie put Bournemouth back in front.
The most controversial moment of the match came just after Tokelo Rantie had replaced Callum Wilson. Within seconds of his entry onto the pitch he was caught in a Tommy Smith & Luke Chambers sandwich, inside the Town box, which had the home crowd & players screaming for a penalty. It was waved away by referee Michael Bull (correctly according to Mick McCarthy!)
After receiving treatment for what seemed like ages, he was stretchered off, his afternoon's work complete, Rantie over!
Ipswich levelled the match again with fifteen minutes remaining. Anderson delivered a perfect free kick from the left wing which, that man, Daryl Murphy headed past Cherries keeper Artur Boruc, sending the travelling support delirious!
Sharon & I had travelled down to Bournemouth in the morning and had tied the game in with her friend Dawn's 50th birthday party in Reigate that evening. We parked the car strategically so that after the match we could make a hasty getaway, which was great until the fourth official held up the board for injury time. TWELVE minutes. "Bloody marvellous" said Sharon "The only time we really need to get away as well!" I don't think that I've ever been to a match with that much extra time added on before. They'd be no Tokelo Sunrises for her that night!
Luckily my exit strategy worked a treat getting away from Bournemouth and we had a good run up to Reigate, arriving just before seven o'clock. Does life get any better?

A Song For Yann Kermorgant - well worth a watch

Sad news earlier in the week. RIP Gino