Monday, May 25, 2009

Welcome to the Championship, Newcastle!

And Middlesbrough, of course.

After years of visiting grounds like Old Trafford, Highbury/The Emirates, Anfield, Goodison Park, White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge, with their huge capacities, now it's their turn to visit grounds that look like Craven Cottage or Fratton Park.

Every week.

Barnsley, Blackpool, Bristol City (it has plants growing in the steps!), Watford, Palace and the wooden seats! I bet our new arrivals cannot wait to go to Loftus Road! Leicester, Peterborough and Scunthorpe all await them as well. August just can't come around quickly enough!

Joking aside, I can't wait for when Ipswich play Newcastle, both home and away. For most of the clubs in the Championship, it will probably be the sell out fixture. It'll be interesting to see what the attendances of the away fans are at St James' Park next season, especially when Plymouth make the incredibly, incredibly long journey up there.

For Newcastle and Middlesbrough fans, a word of warning. Don't think it's going to be an easy ride. Just look at what has happened to teams like Leicester City, Leeds United and the three who have been relegated this season, Southampton, Charlton and Norwich! All of these clubs have graced the Premiership in the past 10 years, now they're all in League One (or have been in League One). The Championship is most probably the best second tier division in Europe, and on it's day, anyone can beat anyone. None of the teams who got promoted from League One got relegated last season, Swansea even came close to the play-offs. Birmingham City may have got promoted straight back to the Promised Land, but Reading finished in the play-off places and went crashing out to Burnley, a team who have been in the Championship for all eternity (congratulations on being promoted, it must be nice to be out of here!), and Derby. Well, they started out where they left off and looked likely to keep falling for a while. Newcastle and Boro fans will be in for an interesting summer. Especially Newcastle fans, considering the club's finances.

I'm counting down the days until next season's fixture list comes out, I'm already planning my 09/10 tour! It's my last season before I go to university, so I want to make a memorable one. I hope my beloved team do the same...

Monday, May 4, 2009

The season's over (but it had been for a long time...)

Not many people sat in Portman Road yesterday seemed to care about the result between two mid-table Championship clubs.

It was nice that our season came to a good end, with three wins on the bounce against our bitter rivals, a team chasing the play-offs and another mid-table side. Two of these wins were at home, where it has been noticed that Town have struggled there all season. Finishing 9th was a surprise. A pleasant one though.

However, I say that not many people cared about the result due to a match happening in South East London. Within half an hour the North Stand was ecstatic. "The scum are going down" rang around the stadium, and when Giovanni fired in the opener which was then quickly followed by a second from Pablo, Portman Road had that feeling of happiness back. That feeling that has abandoned us all season, as fans have turned on each other due to their allegiances about who is sat in the dugout in front of the Brittania Stand.

It's a shame. Other clubs would've killed to be in our position of knowing which league they're playing in next season. I mean, look at Norwich. Yes, I may be an Ipswich fan, and did enjoy clapping and singing along to the songs yesterday, but part of me will miss our dear yellow and green neighbours. But look at the sides that joined them in League One. Southampton and Charlton, another to the list of casualties that once graced the Premiership. Leeds United have been down there for a couple of seasons now, Leicester managed to get promoted the first time they tried. Nottingham Forest were dragged into the relegation dogfight of the Championship, and Derby were fairly close to it (although us beating Norwich did help them out). The plight of Luton Town has been well documented. In all of those cases, it's the fans you have to feel for. They are the people who go to watch their team week in week out. They make the songs, they fill the stands, and they add more value to the club than any owner can.

For me, our season was over back in December, many fans would've disagreed with me. So, since Decemebr, I've just enjoyed the ride. I've been to Sheffield Wednesday, Plymouth, Doncaster, Derby, Palace, Chelsea, QPR and Bristol City this season, and every home game (including all the League Cup ties and the one FA Cup tie), bar Palace, as I was the other end of the country - I watched it on Sky though. Not that that counts. I'm not saying this to sound like the super fan, as I know I'm not. But the fact is, come rain or shine, I'll always support Ipswich Town. They've filled a big part of my heart. A very big part...

So, back to yesterday's game. We witnessed the best (Gio! Gio! Gio!) and the worst (back passes, nervous defending and the midfield going for a wander) all in two halves. And I'm glad Roy Keane saw what we saw throughout the entire season. Our away form may've improved (we won nine. NINE!), but our home form, superb last season, took a giant leap in the wrong direction. Which is what seemed to happen under Magilton, our home form last season was superb, whilst our away form (with all three of our wins!) was completely abysmal. But now we've won two on the bounce at home, so fingers crossed we can keep that up next season...

Happy days are here again.


Next season promises to be exciting. Roy Keane's got the beard out already by the looks of this morning's paper! So, if Keano can cut some the squad down, then who knows! What we know for definite is this:

  • Giovanni dos Santos must go back to Spurs. He was the bright spark for the end of the season.
  • Once our injuries are out of the way, Keane will have a better idea of what squad he's got.
  • The players that were told under Jim that they have no future could yet feature in the mighty Keane's plans. Look at Matt Richards. Never saw that coming!
All I have to say now is: Bring on the fixture list!