A long, long time ago, way out
East, a cowboy outfit of footballers called Ipswich Association FC
(formed 1878) merged with a rugby club to form Ipswich FC in 1888.
It took them another 50 years for the club to gain entrance to the
Football League, but once they did there no no stopping them staying
where they were. They remained in Division Three (South) until
1953, when they won that league - a feat they reproduced three seasons
later after being relegated back there.
It was only when ex-Spurs full
back, Alf Ramsey retired from the game and lacking anything better to
do, took over as manager at Portman Road that things took off in
Suffolk. His second season saw them out of the bottom league and
within four years they were in the First Division courtesy of the Second
Div. championship in 1961. The newcomers also took Tottenham's
League championship off them at their first try. Ramsey's fighting
team became known as the side with a punch after their home
county. Not blessed with big names, they played for each other and
made more well known sides look small. But it couldn't last.
Teams grew wise to their methods and by 1964 they were down to Div.
A prosperous period began with
promotion to the First Division as champs in 1968. And shortly
after, Bobby Robson took over and although he couldn't remember the name
of the team, he presided over the halcyon days of the Tractor Boys. An
FA Cup win over Arsenal in 1978 was followed by the culmination of their
European exploits with a UEFA Cup triumph over Twente Enschede - a high
scoring Dutch side. That season the Horses also finished
runners-up in the old First Division, as they did the following
term. However, there was never the luck going for them to take the
big title, despite the bleeding Terry Butcher, the ancient Paul Mariner
and the hairy John Wark.
For all those old enough to
remember their golden days, Mick Mills was the cornerstone of the
side. Looking like Phil Collins and playing like him to sometimes,
he played 591 times for the club in his 16 year stint. How the
side that faced Tottenham on 21st August 1976 managed to have an average
age of 22 years and 9 months with him in it, I don't know !!
Almost an amazing a fact as the one that saw Gary Bailey save three
Ipswich penalties in a 6-0 win over Manchester United in 1980 !!
The team grew nearly as old as
their manager, who was soon off to manage England in the footsteps of
Ramsey (being required to leave after an unsuccessful World Cup campaign
too). There followed an unprecedented turnover in managers - four in 12
years until they settled on old boy defender George Burley. Under
his guidance the club have gone down into Division One, a run of
play-off nightmares, which culminated in a narrow win over Barnsley in
2000 to take them back into the top flight. They have surprised
everyone by playing attractive and successful football, with the promise
of more to come.
In the good old days, the club
had always been run by an upper class elite who could often be heard to
chant "Rah, rah, rah ! Let's smash the oinks !!", when
entertaining clubs from more industrial areas. There was a load of
old Cobbolds in charge and they wooed the fancy of many a young player
they wanted to sign with offers of claret in the boardroom. However, the
cases of top vino were swept away in a bloodless coup staged by David
Sheepshanks, now the chairman of the club. You will often hear the
cries now that come from the home end of "We are the Sheepshank
Boys" ... and nobody is really surprised !!
: - Keith Bertschin, Ray Crawford, Gary Dobbin, Colin Viljoen,
Mitch D'Avray, Harry Nagg, Romeo Zondervan, Roy Bailey, Eddie Youds,
Famous Fans : - Keith
Dellar (former World Champion darts player), Bill Treacher (Actor -
Arthur Fowler in "EastEnders"), Griff Rhys Jones (Comedian -
"Not the Nine O'Clock News)