Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tractor Boys run out of diesel

I spent an hour and half today along with 23,963 other people watching Ipswich Town Football Club 'entertain' Brighton FC at home. Both teams are in the Championship - one division below the Premiership - though neither are really top teams. Ipswich Town's season has been a little disappointing overall, and while there was a period it looked like we might reach the playoffs, we have lost the last few games and are now sitting in mid-table, unable to go anywhere. Brighton meanwhile are trying to avoid relegation - which is staring them in the face.

Having lost 4-1 at home last time out, many Ipswich fans were hoping 'the Tractor Boys' could turn out a better performance this time round. Things started out ok - with both teams creating chances and it looked like it was going to be a decent game of football. If anything Ipswich were having the better of it - as we should (Brighton aren't anything special as a team) but just before the break - and after a key Ipswich player Richard Naylor had to go off injured - Brighton took the lead.

As I sat munching my slightly stale chocolate Aero at halftime, contemplating the probability of Ipswich coming back in the second half, the tannoy at Portman Road announced that it was the 25th anniversary this year of Ipswich winning the UEFA cup and lo and behold about six of the winning team of 1981 came onto the pitch - including such Town legends as Kevin Beattie and John Wark (star of hit football film 'Escape to Victory'). This was marvellous - normally the only thing to watch on the pitch at half time are the devoted groundsmen replacing the divets on the (excellent) pitch. Moreover they had the actual UEFA cup with them and they stood in a line for photos.

My mind - and doubtless that of many other Town fans - was drawn to the contrast between the glory days of that great side - and today's team, which is young and inexperienced in the main (Ipswich have no money). This contrast got even more glaring when - with the Ipswich legends of old standing in line holding the UEFA Cup- Queen's song 'We are the Champions' was blared out over the loudspeakers. Champions? This season we couldn't even get into the playoffs of the Championship and were currently trailing at home 1-0 to Brighton.

However, when the Second half got underway, Ipswich seemed to run out of ideas completely. Matt Richards had a very poor game in particular. Subs came and went, but Ipswich seemed to go to sleep - as though they were happy to be losing 1-0. I almost nodded off myself - and several other fans around me also yawned conspicously. A few fans tried chanting 'sort it out' at our manager Joe Royle, but most people's expectations of the side were suitably low by now. Apathy and resignation seemed to overcome both our players and the thousands of Ipswich fans.

Then disaster struck again - Brighton went two nil up - sending their fans into rapturous excitement and us into profound angst. 'Richards is shit' was a common refrain and when the referee stopped to have a word with Richards at one point, a few fans near me chanted 'off, off, off', which raised a smile. Though Ipswich got a consolation goal at the death, by then many fans had gone home. It was a very poor performance overall - and hardly any of the Ipswich players seemed to be really bothered. Will things improve for Ipswich next season? Hard to see how, really, especially after a perfomance like that - but a club with such a proud history like Ipswich one cannot help but imagine an alternative future to simply mid-table mediocrity from now til eternity.



At 2:45 am, Blogger Frank Partisan said...

Who would ever of known, you are a good sports writer.

At 8:14 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Well, thanks.

At 6:05 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have to agree. It's all rather dismal. Losing three games in a week against Stoke (mediocre at best) Brighton (bad - now relegated) and Watford (admittedly doing well and interestingly with similar financial constraints to Ipswich)has underlined just how poor a team Ipswich have become. I note with interest that this could be our worst finishing position since a certain Sir Alf Ramsey won promotion from the old division three (south). The real problem is quite relevant to a Marxist theory orientated blog such as this. Because we don't have any money or any chance of finding any money anytime soon, we almost have to opt out of the traditional buying and selling roulette that top level football clubs take part in. Its all very well praising Wigan's achievements this season but the reason they got up in the first place was because we were crap this time last year and an old bloke with loads of money spent a fortune on the team. We need to find a young manager who will bring through a succession of good youngsters. We'll sell some, keep others and hopefully start to challenge the richer teams again. That's what George Burley did but it took him 5 years and I'm not sure if many of us could take a further 5 years of tedium and disappointment. But I'm sure we will.

At 8:55 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Cheers gom.

Just heard today that John Lyall - former Ipswich manager - has died today. RIP.

'Paddington' felt that Histomat ought to carry an obituary - I think this was said tongue in cheek. However, if you (gom) fancy doing an obit of Lyall then feel free to email me. All I remember is seeing him from a distance and singing 'Johnny Lyall's Blue Army - I - T - F - C'. However, tactically, Ipswich's game then seemed to revolve around trying to feed Chris Kiwomya upfront with hopeful long balls upfield for him to run onto. Perhaps that is why we need another Burley style manager...


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