Well that was a depressing way to spend a Saturday. Mind you travelling to Ipswich always is. One of the great things about supporting your team at away games is that you get to see lots of our fantastic country. I’d say every journey I make there is something to enjoy about it. The exception is Ipswich. As one turns off the M25 on to the A12 one is confronted with mile after mile of grotty flat scrubland. Essex truly is an ugly county: possibly the only one in England that is consistently so. Technically Ipswich is just over the border in Suffolk but culturally it is Essex to its very core: as are its inhabitants – London slum clearance descendants who resemble the supporters of other teams to the east and north of London. They are West Ham supporters without the intelligence; Tottenham supporters without the wit; Arsenal supporters without the passion. In Ipswich supporting the local team is something you do “because it is there”. While travelling to Norwich is a joy, travelling to Ipswich is a chore. To make up for the numerous deficiencies they (indulged by the media) have developed this “tractor boys” myth. This is meant to suggest they are in a lovely rural idyll rather than just a London overspill. I assume this is on the basis that within a reasonable walking distance there are some farms. Only Londoners and their progeny could think this made one rural. On this basis people from Hartlepool are the “scythe boys” and people from Sunderland are the “hunter gatherer boys”. God only knows what they would think of us lads from Seaham where we don’t even need to walk to a farm – we can look out of our windows and see farmland. The “barely human boys”?
The game was just rubbish: championship fare at its most miserable. Our list of injured strikers (longer than most Championship club’s squads) is doing us in. A Connolly, Murphy or Elliott could have made a lot of difference. I am sorry but I still can’t see Brown as a Championship player. A couple of decent games I’ll grant you – but any League 1 player could probably pull those out of the bag. I’m trying my best to keep an open mind – but I am struggling. Yorke was crap. Apparently he got booed – I didn’t hear it but then I don’t sit through a match monitoring the actions of other supporters – if he did there is no excuse for it. He was better when he dropped into midfield towards the end but he looks neither match fit nor fit.
The real villain was Alnwick, who has generally been a disappointment this season. After being gifted a goal by the overspill boys (literally – it was an own goal) we gave away a stupid free kick 30 yards from goal. Alnwick lined up his wall to cover his right hand post. So the ball came round to his left side – and he missed it! I haven’t seen a replay but from our angle (it was down at our end but we were at the side) it looked soft as owt. In the second half he first let a ball come over and then across into the goal without ever challenging it and then failed to come out for a ball. If your team, and your goalkeeper in particular is going to give away three goals like that then even a poor team is going to murder you. If the Klown had put on a performance like this we’d be going mad at him (and rightly so). Keane must be thinking that one of his next moves must be to sort out the goalkeeping position unless Alnwick produces a dramatic upturn in form.
We ended the match with 10 men (Wallace being the perm one from ten the ref could have sent off). We’d been saying from 5 minutes into the game that we had no chance of finishing with 11 on the pitch. From the off Ipswich had been briefed to milk the ref for the “Keane effect”. Any contact (whether initiated by our player or an Ipswich player) saw the Ipswich player fall to the floor, the ref give a free kick and oftentimes a booking. I don’t know how we are going to deal with this. We want proper passionate play but if referees are going to be as conned as easy as this we are rarely going to be playing with 11 men.
Ah, bollox. Once again we seem to be heading for a home match thinking “this is really important that we win this one”. I’d love a spell of complacency but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get one.