Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Green, Green Grass of Home

A couple of things have happened since the West Brom game that have left me thanking my lucky stars that we have Layer Road and our very own patch of green, green grass that we call Home. And it has made me question a couple of previously held beliefs.

The first was watching some bits of the Southampton v Cardiff match on TV on Sunday as part of my warm up for the big match - Hamilton v Alonso v Raikkonen. I wasn't really watching the game, I was listening to the noise coming from the TV. The echo of the crowd in the St Mary's Stadium suggested that only a few hundred had bothered to turn up. A check in the press the next day suggested there were nearly 21000. I guess most were sleeping, but it did mean that we could have fit our capacity into the space that remained and still had room for 3000 more. The rattling of voices off the walls showed that a ground being only 63% full hasn't got any atmosphere. The learning outcome here for me is that maybe 10,000 is adequate for Cuckoo Farm, for the time being anyway. Let's not lose the terrific and glorious '
Real Football Roar' that erupts from everywhere except Terraces 1 and 2. Six and a half thousand muted voices in a larger stadium and we might as well be talking to ourselves. We need to live up to the title we won last season.

The second life changing event happened at Portman Road on Tuesday night for our first local derby of the season. It was a last minute decision and I managed to get a couple of tickets on the morning of the game, but my son and I had to sit in the Cobbold Stand shoulder to shoulder, back to knees (knees in my back, my knees in someone else's back), with a few thousand tractor drivers from another world. We had agreed that we were not going to say or do anything that might get us 'outed' as travelling criminals in that part of the world where we hoped to steal three points points from under their noses.
The plan started well and we took the lead in the most eerie fashion I have ever experienced. A great build up and stunning shot after half an hour. We had the lead and the roar was choking inside us. It happened without any noise - it was like watching the TV with the sound off. Had we really scored? Were we really one-nil up? Did we really have those three points in our grasp? Well the way the match went for the next 40 minutes either side of the break suggested we had already banked the three points.

Then an extraordinary set of events - a penalty where the ref didn't send off the offending keeper, who then has the cheek to save the spot kick, and town of Ipswich wakes up. They spot that we are making off with the booty and I'm sure they don't know how they did it but they managed to wrestle one point back from us and put one of the others spinning through the air for a few minutes. Then they snatched the whole damn lot and ran off to the bank themselves. Two different types of 'stunned' in the course of one match. I know which one I preferred.

In fact 'stunned' was the byword for the post-match interviews on the radio. Even Neil Kelly, our radio presenter, was stunned as he asked questions of Platt and Davison: "How did it ... ? What was ... ? Why ...?" was exactly what he said - he couldn't get any more words out himself. The replies were equally short: "I, just, dunno." "I ..." "Dunno"!

OK, so back to the life changing events - the cramped seats in the Cobbled Together Stand made me realise that Layer Road isn't as bad as I once thought. I've always considered my own seat to be economically constructed but Portman Road takes the biscuit. I'll be happy with my current space being replicated at Cuckoo Farm, although I'd really like a bit more width and leg room please - but I promise won't moan about the piece of heaven I possess until then.
(Click heels together three times, and repeat after me "There's no place like Home",
"There's no place like Home", ... "There's no place like Layer Road")

No comments: