For clubs like Ipswich Town that have seen such riches, the idea of meeting humble lads such as ourselves must surely be a shock?
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For clubs like Ipswich Town that have seen such riches, the idea of meeting humble lads such as ourselves on equal terms must come as a shock? From times longer ago, we’re probably talking Swindon Town or Newcastle United; teams we only ever got the chance to meet in the FA Cup or something. Then came the swathe of Football League stalwarts dropping into the Conference. And then it was those fallen ‘giants’ we’d encounter on our rise up into League One. But there are still plenty who have stayed out of our reach.

So, why are we lumping the Tractor Boys in with the likes of – say – Manchester United?

Who are Ipswich Town Football Club?

Oh, here’s a long tale. It’s one that goes back 140+ years; the Tractor Boys first recorded in 1878. For their first decade, they were plain old Ipswich AFC. That all changed in 1888 when they merged with the local rugby club. And now we can start to pick up the pace as they moved up through various county and regional leagues. They turned professional in 1936; joining the Southern League in the same year.

Two years later, the Tractor Boys became members of the Football League. They haven’t looked back. After 10 seasons in Division Three South, promotion took them into Division Two. While the club was relegated at the first attempt, they returned back up just a couple of years later and – shortly after – they reached the top flight. Leading from the dugout at the time was a certain Alf Ramsey. No idea what became of him. But he did take the club to a whole other level in 1962; champions of England proving quite an achievement.

Ramsey wasn’t the only England gaffer to cut his teeth at Portman Road. Bobby Robson arrived in 1969. By the time he left in 1982, the Tractor Boys won the FA Cup (1978) and the UEFA Cup (1981). He couldn’t quite deliver the championship, however; twice ending up with a runners-up medal (1981 and 1982). And, even as the post-Robson era saw the club relegated to the second tier, they came back to form part of the first Premier League.

Why do we know the Tractor Boys?

It’s almost pointless banging on about their league record. You can draw a Venn diagram of both our respective league fortunes – and the circles won’t come near to touching. The 2011 season did, however, see us close the gap between us to just one division; us up in League One and them in the Championship. As we all know, we weren’t able to take that extra step up. And the Tractor Boys were comfortably mid-table in the second tier.

So, what gave? The 2013-4 League Cup Round One draw.

What is our record against them?

As a year, 2013 didn’t prove to be a great one. Boro’ tumbled down the League One table and axed Gary Smith as boss. The following season would be equally as painful. But that overlooks the fact that we started it with a bit of a cupset; beating the Tractor Boys by two goals at the Lamex in August 2013. It felt like a fleeting encounter between two clubs that knew different levels of success over the years. And we’ll say no more about it.

Except we will say more about it.

The League Cup Round One draw did its thing again just two years later; this time, taking us to Portman Road. And this time it was our turn to be on the wrong end of the result. An OG put us ahead at the half time break. But two second half goals ensured that our hosts avoided a second straight upset at our hands; winning 2-1. We can deal with that too. Our record in the League Cup ain’t the greatest, that’s for sure.

And yet that still wasn’t enough to appease the footballing gods. Just one year later, Boro’ returned to Portman Road for a third League Cup Round One tie against the Tractor Boys. This serious case of déjà vu was made slightly easier to bear thanks to Ben Kennedy. His goal ensured that we picked up the win and got the better of them once again. Seriously – what are the chances of three games in four seasons against the same cup opponent?

Ipswich Town: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 2 — W 2 — D 0 — L 1 — F 4 — A 2 — Pts n/a — WR 67%
Our last tango: Ipswich Town 0-1 Stevenage, 09 August 2016

What happened to them?

As we write, another four seasons have passed and there have been no more meetings between ourselves and the Tractor Boys – Not even in the first stage of the League Cup! But the gap between us is back to one division again; their dismal 2018-9 season ending with relegation to League One. And, while we remain one division apart, who knows how soon our next meeting could be. There’s always the Papa John’s Trophy nowadays too…

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Ipswich Town club profile


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