Portman Road Ipswich Town
Championship League v Leicester City
Saturday, February 25th 2006, 3pm
the fact that Leicester City had never won away at Portman Road since 1997,
courtesy of a Mark Robins strike in the League Cup en route to the final that
year, the travelling Blue Army contingent were in buoyant mood ahead of this
much anticipated match against Ipswich Town. A rejuvenated Leicester side under
the stewardship of caretaker manager, Rob Kelly, were playing entertaining and
passionate football to the delight of the Leicester faithful. A lot had been
made in the local media in Leicester about the poor record at Ipswich and our
overall lacklustre history against them. Staggeringly, Leicester had not beaten
Ipswich in the previous half dozen matches played against Town since Leicester
were playing football at their previous home at Filbert Street, where we won
against the Tractor Boys in the season both contended in the Premiership. The
year was 2001 and the score 2-1.
Anyhow, I had taken time off work with the intention of going to the match with a relative. I always see the matches against the East Anglian teams as a sort of "grudge" match, due to my upbringing in Suffolk and with many friends supporting the two main teams in the region. Of all the away days I have been on in the past decade, Portman Road is the one ground I have visited most frequently and therefore I have seen it develop and recently alter with modernisation and expansion. It was a bitterly cold day in February and made for unsavoury conditions to spectate, let alone for driving in. The swift passage along the A14 motorway that meanders through the county was pleasant and upon entering Ipswich, we were greeted by the anticipated gridlock and congestion with the road network seemingly overwhelmed with the volume of football traffic attempting to infiltrate the town. Portman Road is located near the town centre and is pretty well sign-posted. We conveniently parked the car at my dad's workplace around a 5 minute walk to the stadium and upon leaving the car it became obvious just how freezing it was. These were sub-Arctic conditions in East Anglia and eskimo clothing would have been recommended and advised.
Leicester had brought a healthy number of fans to the game with around 1,200 herded in to the upper tier of the Cobbold Stand. From glimpsing at the matchday programme, the ground is not the best day out for travelling supporters with attending numbers from other clubs minimal and pitiful making Leicester's army of followers looking quite impressive. The Cobbold Stand offers an impressive panorama of the stadium and importantly an unimpeded view of the ground and pitch. However, gaining access to the upper tier is an ardous and challenging task as fans bussle up the tight stairway and crowd in the the cramped concourse that verges on utter pandamonium, especially when there is a decent away support! Portman Road seems to retain the charm and spectacle of a traditional ground and yet has modern aesthetics and amenities. The two stands behind both goals have been completely redeveloped with large tiers added to make both goal ends impressive and enclosed, in keeping with the rest of the stadium. The only unfortunate aspect of the ground is the fact that both the Britannia Stand and the Cobbold Stand are starting to show their age and have deteriorated slightly and appear weathered and hagged in places.
Portman Road is a friendly
place to come and visit and even the stewards are polite and helpful, which is
an added bonus that you do not expect as part of the matchday hospitality.
Portman Road quickly filled up to near-capacity with around 25,000 in attendance
on this cold February day. Just before kick-off, the Leicester players came over
to the touchline to clap the away contingent in appreciation for recent support
and reinforce the sense of unity the new look squad had with the fans.
As the game kicked off it became apparent that the atmosphere at Portman Road had not improved on last year. It was virtually non-existent and hardly a chant was roused or a passionate outburst mustered. There was complete an utter silence apart from the mocking chants from the Leicester fans. "No noise from the Tractor boys" we toyed and "Shall we sing a song for you?" was sang with great gusto. Yet there was no reply, apart from bemused glances from the South Stand adjacent and a few sarcastic claps.
The first half was a turgid affair and pretty dour to reflect the weather and the Ipswich support. Iain Hume missed a golden opportunity early on when put through, but blasted his shot just wide of the post as he raced clear. The second-half began more brightly and chances were a plenty for both teams with Ipswich grabbing a goal fifteen minutes in to the re-start. After the Town fans had finished their rather subdued celebrations, silence again resumed and resonated around the ground, broken only by chants of "one nil-and you still don't sing!" from the teasing Blue Army who were rather surprised at the nonchalance before them. Despite the best efforts of a valiant Leicester side that pushed forward for an equaliser, but were denied by some smart saves in the Ipswich goal, they leaked a second to seal the match for the Tractor boys. The Town fans to our left then made "Easy" gestures and bounced up and down in celebration to the music. The North Stand managed to create a half-hearted outburst, but like what had followed before, it was tepid and weak, instead resembling a background noise of somebody listening to a radio in a library with no vibrancy or heart.
The game finished 2-0 and the Ipswich hoodoo continued. Our finest run of results in three years had come to an end and the Leicester masses trudged out in despondent mood after hearing that arch-rivals Derby County had won against Plymouth to make matters worse in the relegation battle to avoid the dreaded drop. There are still another 10 games to go and the Blue Army consoled themselves with the thought that things could be worse, we could support Nottingham Forest and that seemed to raise a wry smile amongst the travelling Foxes.
an away or general football fan who has visited Portman Road recently?
If so why not submit your own review of the ground and general day out?
Click here to find out more.
Return To The Ipswich
Return To The Main Menu