Memories of Ipswich Town
Ipswich Town 2-0 Charlton, Saturday 14th February, 1981
Ipswich and Charlton in recent times have spent many years mirroring each other's fortunes but back in February 1991 our league status could not have been more different. Ipswich Town were riding high top of the League Championship having lost just two games all season. They were soon to face (eventual) French Champions St Etienne in the 4th Round of the UEFA Cup. Ipswich won that tie on aggregate 7-1 and sent shockwaves around Europe. They made the final and beat AZ Alkmaar in what was a glorious time in their 130-year history.
Charlton meanwhile were not doing too bad themselves, it was just at a completely different grade. We sat proudly 2nd in the old 3rd division under Mike Bailey, we were top until the week before when we got stuffed at Chester 4-0. The same day Ipwich beat bottom placed Crystal Palarse Div 1 outfit 3-2.
After wins over Harlow Town, Bournemouth, Plymouth and Fulham, it was FA Cup 5th round day. A real David v Goliath and what makes football so special and as a quiet 14-year old it was also to be my first ever away match without my parents. I went with two older friends and an older gentleman called Pat, who stood for years with us on the east terrace. Pat drove us and I often wonder about him, he was a lovely bloke and I hope I'm wrong but I'd imagine he would probably now be supporting the Addicks from heaven. Of my two mates, one I lost touch with, the other I still see everytime I go to The Valley for a pint beforehand.
We stopped on the way to Suffolk in a country pub, I sipped on a coke, was given a bag of crisps and we played pool. I don't remember much else until we got to Portman Road an hour before kick-off. I had been to many away games but this was something else, 12,000 Addicks crammed into the covered terrace behind one of the goals and sung the whole song book for two and a half hours while our little club containing such luminaries as Phil Warman, Peter Shaw, Les Berry and Martin Robinson gave the league leaders the fright of their lives.
I can still name that famous Ipswich team. They had some terrific players but the midfield of Thijssen, Muhren, Wark and Gates was being given a real runaround by Colin Powell, Dick Tydeman, Phil Walker and Martin Robinson.
At the half it was goalless and to this day I remember standing there with all those people thinking that I will not forget this day in a hurry and I never have. Just before the hour John Wark settled the home side's nerves and put them in front, but we battled away until the end. I remember a couple of half chances that fell Hales, Walsh and Tydeman's way but in the final minutes Paul Mariner undeservedly got Ipswich's 2nd but the Addicks left the field to a standing ovation from all sides of the ground.
I was physically sick when I got home, I think the excitement just got the better of me and I'm not embarrassed to say it. In retrospect those early 80's were tough times for Addicks, we were relegated the season before with just 6 wins but I have some wonderful memories of that 1980/81 season, let us not forget our only one in the 3rd tier for 33 years. Promotion was gained at Carlisle, for what was to be the first time, and without a doubt that day out at Portman Road certainly sealed the love of a 14-year old teenager with I suspect other things on his mind.Charlton:
Johns, Naylor, Warman, Shaw, Berry (Smith 46), Tydeman, Powell, Walsh, Hales, Robinson, Walker.Ipswich:
Cooper, Osman, McCall, Thijssen, Beattie, Butcher, Wark, Muhren, Mariner, Brazil, Gates.
Sub (not used): O'Callaghan
Attendance: 30,221 (this ended up being Ipswich's 2nd highest of the season)