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?
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.
How to get to Ipswich Town – Travel Information – Distance: 83 miles
If you’re making the trip across to Ipswich Town, one of the best ways to do so is to take the A505 towards Royston. Stay on the A505 as you pass around Royston and head on up to Duxford.
Go across the M11 and continue along the A505 until you reach the A11. Here, you’ll be wanting to head north. After nearly nine miles, merge with the eastbound A14 towards Felixstowe. You’ll be staying on the A14 for nearly 42 miles at this point, before taking the exit for what seems to be the A1156 into Ipswich.
A McDonalds and an Asda should be among the landmarks at this stage.
Keep on the A1156 over the various roundabouts and junctions until you get into more central parts of the town. Take the third exit at the roundabout; taking you onto the A1022 Civic Drive, before taking the third exit at the next roundabout for the A1071 Handford Road.
Shortly after, there will be a left turn for Portman Road and the stadium is down here.
You should find space in one of the Pay and Display car parks on Portman Road itself; the added bonus being that parking should be free after 8pm if you’re there on a weekday.
Services to: CAMBRIDGE
You can of course travel via London for this journey. But it’s easier and cheaper to go via Cambridge. As for the station, it’s just the other side of the river from the stadium. You’ll probably be able to even make your way using the floodlights as a reference point.
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