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ITFC in the Ipswich & District League
The following is a potted history of Towns association with the Ipswich & District League (now the Suffolk & Ipswich League), from the leagues formation in 1896 through to the last time a Town side competed in the IDL way back in 1936, taken mainly from the book Five Score: The SIL Football Book of the Century.
John Eastwoods The Men Who Made the Town, published in 1986, and considered by many Town fans to be the definitive club history, makes just a few passing references to Towns involvement with the IDL, but, from the history of the league penned by KP Wood in 1996, it appears that between those years Town entered not only a reserve side and an A side, but the first team also competed.
In the early 1900s the seniors competed in two leagues simultaneously: From 1903 to 1906, the South East Anglia League and the Norfolk & Suffolk League, and from 1907 to 1910, while continuing to play in the Norfolk & Suffolk League, they also took part in the East Anglian League. So, moving forward to the 1920s and 1930s it is not that odd to see them competing in the Southern Amateur League whilst also entering a senior side in the IDL, which they did from 1925 to 1935.
Sadly, just a smattering of Town results are available in the SIL history, all of which are included below. Ideally we need to get our grubby hands on a complete set of IDL handbooks for the complete story
Although founder members of the IDL, Town do not take part in its inaugural season having already arranged a full set of, mainly, friendly fixtures.
Town enter a RESERVE side who finish bottom of a seven team Division One.
Town withdraw their reserve side. Three players, who with in a short time will join Town, were selected to play for a representative XI against champions Woodbridge Old St Marys: T Sharp, E Betts and P Green. Another six players, who will likewise join Town later in their careers, are selected to play for the Division Town representative XI against Division Tow champions Brantham Athletic: L Swann, H Steel, F Freston, E Renaut, F Potter and C Finch.
After an absence of three years the RESERVES are back, finishing fourth in Division One with just 8 points from a possible 24.
The RESERVES reach the final of the Suffolk Junior Cup losing 3-0 (their opponents are not mentioned in the text).
The RESERVES have a more than useful season, and although they lose heavily at Leiston (4-1), they seldom slip up against lower placed sides with their wins include a 4-2 victory away to Felixstowe Town.
The RESERVES finish runners-up, a single point behind Division One Champions Orwell Works. A few results:
Reserves 1 HMS Fisgard 1 (start of season)
Five Score also mentions that the Reserves recorded a win against Royal Horse Artillery (3-1) and a suffered a defeat against the same side (1-2 at Portman Road), but according to the final league tables RHA played in Division Two!
In the Suffolk Junior Cup:
A third place finish for the RESERVES in Division One. A satisfactory campaign, says the text, but side inclined to drop points unexpectedly. Some results:
Reserves 1 Royal Horse Artillery 2 (venue unknown)
The RESERVES finish as runners-up in Division One, four points behind Orwell Works, but with one game (against Bury Alexandra) left un-played. At the end of the season only Towns RESERVES were left challenging Orwell Works. The two sides met on April 27th with Orwell Works winning by a goal to nil. Town were considered to have been the better side over the course of the season but suffered from inconsistency, with calls from the senior side no doubt having an effect too. Some results:
Reserves 7 Brantham Athletic 0 (January 5th)
Town RESERVES beat Stowmarket 4-0 in the Suffolk Junior Cup Final.
The RESERVES finish two points behind Champions Stowmarket after the two sides had led the division for most of the season. The crunch match took place at Sidegate Lane, Ipswich on Saturday December 14th, with the visitors winning 2-1. This effectively ended Towns title ambitions and they had to settle for runners-up spot for the second successive season. There were rumours during the course of the season that the Reserves might join a new Woodbridge & District League. A few results:
Reserves 5 Royal Horse Artillery 1 (venue unknown, October 1907)
In a pre-Christmas representative game IPSWICH TOWN (Fenn & Phillips) beat the IDL (Barnard) 2-1.
Towns RESERVES finish a lowly sixth. A specially arranged match at Portman Road sees Champions Westbourne Mills beat a Rest of the League side 3-2. Some other results:
Reserves 3 Stowmarket 0 (at Portman Road)
The Reserves also competed in the new Woodbridge & District League, and the FA Amateur Cup Final was held at Portman Road on Saturday April 3rd, 1909. A gate of £110 was taken as Casuals took on New Crusaders.
The RESERVES miss out on the Championship by a single point. A few results:
Woodbridge Town 1 Reserves 3 (venue unknown)
Towns senior side lost 4-1 to Westbourne Mills in the Suffolk Senior Cup Final, which was played at Mills Castle Hill Ground in February (attendance 500).
Felixstowe Town were worthy Champions, according to the text, while the RESERVES declined to 5th. Only two Reserve results are listed:
Antiquarians 0 Reserves 3 (at Lattice Barn)
Back in those days, says the text, Stowmarket and Town seldom saw eye to eye and the games between the two sides were fractious at times and it was no secret, that Stowmarket were very much FA supporters, whilst Ipswich Town covered their ears at the mere sound of the words Football Association.
Town entered an A SIDE in Division Two for the first time who finished a creditable second, one point behind Champions Stowmarket Reserves. Both sides were running neck and neck for the title up until February 11th when a very young Ipswich Town A lost 4-1 to St. Bartholemews. Town then dropped a point against YMCA in a 2-2 draw. Two other A results are recorded:
St. Bartholemews 0 A Side 1 (venue unknown)
Various references to young in the text suggest that the A side were a forerunner of the youth team.
Divisions ran deep between those supporting the AFA (like Ipswich Town) and the FA, and so in the season before the IDL officially divided, Division One contained just five clubs (including the RESERVES), and Division Two just six (including the A SIDE). May clubs were competing in other leagues as they were obviously not content with the IDL programme of just eight and ten games respectively.
The Reserves finished 4th in Division One while the A Side picked up the wooden spoon in Division Two. The Reserves denied Stowmarket a possible title win with a 3-0 win at Portman Road in the final game of the season. A 0-3 reverse against Woodbridge Town just prior to Christmas is the only other result noted in the text. Orwell Works, who won the title, played a benefit match against the Town senior side at Portman Road, in April, for the relatives of those lost in the Titanic disaster.
The A Side suffered a 9-0 hammering at the hands of Stowmarket Reserves, a 2-0 loss to Champions All Saints United, and managed to score just four times in their ten games.
Two versions of the IDL were competed this season, and next, as local sides split between those who favoured the AFA and those who supported the FA. The RESERVES and the A SIDE competed in Divisions One and Two of the AFA Version, finishing next to bottom and bottom respectively, with the A Side failing to win a single game.
No mention is made of scorelines from either sides games, although the text does make reference to the AFA version of the Suffolk Senior Cup Final which the first team won 2-1 against All Saints United.
In what would prove to be the final season of the IDL before the Great War, the Reserves were withdrawn (no reason for this is given in the text) and their place in Division One (of the AFA version) was taken by the A SIDE who finished second albeit out of four sides. Only one result is mentioned, a dull 1-1 draw against the Army side RGA Landguard at Walton Recreation Ground.
The season that would never be saw a record number of sides register for three divisions as the AFA/FA dispute was settled in July. The Reserves would have participated in an eleven team Division One but no mention is made of the A Sides whereabouts.
The IDL resumes, but with no side from Portman Road participating.
The A SIDE make a return to the league in a twelve-strong Division One, and finish ninth. This is the last recorded entry of the A Side in the IDL.
The IDL now boast 59 teams across five divisions but there is no representation from Portman Road.
No entry from Portman Road, however in a representative match the seniors lose 2-0 to the IDL in the Tubby Shield. Portman Road is also made available for a benefit game for Aircraftsman Case, a serviceman who lost a leg in an accident at RAF Martlesham: Civilians 1 United Services 3.
Ipswich Town SENIORS enter the IDL for the very first time, while the RESERVES compete in Division Two Section B. The former end the season in a three-way tie for first place with RAF Martlesham and Walton United. Town were then drawn to play RAF Martlesham, with the winners taking on Walton United, in a play-off for the title. After a 2-2 draw in the first game, Town won the replay 7-2 (both games played at Sidegate Lane), and the right to face Walton at Woodbridge Towns ground. Walton ran out deserved winners in that game, according to the text, by two goals to one. The Reserves finish seventh in their division.
After the excitement of the previous season the SENIORS finish a disappointing eight in Division One while the RESERVES show some improvement with a third place finish in Division Two Section A.
The SENIORS finish second bottom in Division One while the RESERVES finish mid-table in Division Two Section A.
A highly competitive Division One sees the SENIORS finish eight, just nine points behind Champions Lowestoft. The gap could have been less but Town failed to complete one fixture.
The RESERVES and Old Nactonians dominated Section A of Division Two with Towns second string dropping just three points during the season to finish as Champions. The RESERVES also enjoyed a good cup run but lost the Suffolk Junior Cup Final to United Services (Lowestoft) 3-1 after two 1-1 draws.
N Groom and B Chamberlain of Town represented the IDL in a 3-2 victory over an Essex & Suffolk Border League XI.
The SENIORS finished third in Division One while the RESERVES finished in the same position in Division Two Section A.
The SENIORS drop to sixth in Division One but the RESERVES clinch their second Division Two Section A title in three years by a clear seven points.
An IDL XI beat an Ipswich Town XI 6-1 in a representative match.
The SENIORS, finishing second bottom in Division One, are out shone by the RESERVES who win yet another Division Two title this time Section B. The text says the Reserves were a very powerful outfit. Indeed they lost just one game while finding the back of the net on 107 occasions. They also won the divisional final with a 7-2 win against Barham House from Section A.
An IDL XI drew 2-2 with an Ipswich Town XI in a representative match.
The SENIORS show a huge improvement in form to finish third in Division One, while the RESERVES hit 122 goals to clinch their third straight first place finish, and round off the season with a 5-1 win over Needham Market in the Division Two play-off. The 122 goals for sets a new league record.
An IDL XI beat an Ipswich Town XI 4-1 in the now regular representative match.
The SENIORS finish sixth in Division One while the RESERVES clinch another title, finishing three points clear in Division Two Section B and defeating Hadleigh United 4-0 in the Divisional Final.
Town SENIORS very last season in the IDL - they would be competing in the all new and powerful Eastern Counties League in the 1935-36 season - sees a fifth place finish in Division One. The RESERVES, considering their exploits over the previous six years, finish a very disappointing ninth in Section A of Division Two.
Town RESERVES bow out of the IDL with a fifth place finish in Section A of Division Two.
Five Score: The SIL Football Book of the Century by KP Wood 1996
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