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Friday, December 31

Monaco midfielder for FPR trial?

Jimmy Juan

Darren Currie is preparing to play against West Ham for the first time since he left the club as an apprentice 10 years ago. Currie was at Upton Park alongside Kevin Horlock and Matt Holland. "I played youth and reserve team football with Matty and Kev and have great memories of my time at West Ham. It was a fantastic place to start my career. The facilities were great, the training for us there as kids was first class and I really enjoyed my time there. Funnily enough if I play against West Ham on Saturday it will be the first time I would have played against them since I left there as a kid."

Gerard Nash is to have a cartilage operation next Friday, an operation that will rule him out of action for six weeks.

Reports from France suggest that Town are about to take Monaco midfielder Jimmy Juan on trial. The 21-year-old, who appeared on the bench during Monaco's run to last seasons Champions League final, is finding it difficult to break into Didier Deschamps's side.

BFJ is likely to stay with the side that beat Stoke on Tuesday when West Ham visit FPR tomorrow, with 'keeper Lewis Price back in the squad after his loan period at Cambridge United was cut short due to an injury to Shane Supple.

Thursday, December 30

History on Town's side

Town will defy history if they fail to win promotion back to the Premiership come May. Since the Premier League was launched back in 1992 every team that has led Division One on New Year's Day has played in the top flight the following season.

Former coach Bryan Hamilton is certain that Town will be promoted at the end of the season and that mistakes learnt the last time they were in the top flight will not be repeated. "Knowing people at the club as I do - from the top down - Ipswich have learned a great deal from their experiences over the last three seasons. The club is in very good hands and they will not make the same mistakes again."

Despite reports earlier in the day that Antonio Murray was about to join Cambridge United on loan BFJ says that is not the case and that he has had no contact with new Abbey Stadium boss Steve Thompson regarding the young midfielder.

Drissa Diallo should be back in action in the next few weeks. The defender picked up a hamstring injury in training just under a fortnight ago.

And lastly, Birmingham City have finally completed the signing of Shefki Kuqi's younger brother Njazi from FC Lahti. The Finnish U-21 striker has moved to St Andrews for around GBP400,000.

Wednesday, December 29

New Deals/Price Recalled

Darren Bent and Matt Richards will both be offered new deals in the next few weeks. The two youngsters are currently contracted to Town until June 2006 but BFJ is keen to secure their services for a longer term: "We will be talking to both of them shortly. There is no rush with the older players but it is different with the younger lads."

Town's leading marksman Shefki Kuqi has revealed that he has a clause built into his current deal that gives him the option of a further two years at FPR should Town be promoted in May. However, the 28-year-old will be out of contract in the summer should Town fail to regain Premiership status.

Town have recalled Lewis Price from his loan spell at Cambridge United following an injury to Shane Supple. The Welsh U-21 'keeper had just started a second month at the Abbey Stadium but will now head back to FPR and rejoin the squad for this Saturday's home game with West Ham.

Tuesday, December 28

Town 1 Stoke 0

Town retained top spot in the Championship thanks to a 1-0 victory over Stoke in a largely entertainment free ninety minutes at FPR this afternoon. But its another three points, another clean sheet and the Blue's head into 2005 top of the pile thanks to Shefki Kuqi's 34 minute strike - his 12th of the season.

BFJ felt Town fully warranted their victory: "We had 15 shots in the first half and were terrific but we were just as good for 45 minutes at Millwall on Boxing Day when we went in 1-0 [down]. The difference today was that Kelvin Davis did not have a shot to save in 90 minutes. We defended properly and deserved to keep the clean sheet. Stoke are a big side, dangerous at free-kicks and corners. I called them the Land of the Giants earlier in the season and they haven't got any smaller. I'll take a 1-0 result any time."

And Town's manager singled out match winner Kuqi for special praise: "I don't think there is a more improved player, certainly in this division than Shefki and possibly the country. Some people doubted him when he arrived here from Sheffield Wednesday reserves but he has got better and better. It's a confidence thing with Shefki and at the moment his confidence is sky high. He works so hard for the team and makes it difficult for the opposition to get to our midfield and I am delighted that things are going so well for him. It's nice when one of the good guys is getting credit."

The win gives Town a three-point lead in the Championship. Wigan lost 1-0 at Burnley so Marcus Stewart's last-gasp winner for Sunderland at Nottingham Forest (2-1) puts the Black Cat's second, while Reading lost ground with a 3-0 defeat at Preston.

Former Town midfileder Bobby Petta has criticised Bolton for not giving him enough time to prove himself during a trial at the Reebook: "Remarkably enough, I did not get the chance to prove myself during a practice game. Last Thursday, my agent called me all of a sudden to tell me that the trial was over."

Just like watching Brazil

Alan Brazil

He's been taken off his radio show due to drink, sacked for failing to turn up and reinstated due to public demand. The Pele of Ipswich Town, Alan Brazil, talks to the Guardian's Donald McRae here.

I'd walk a million miles ...

With Town's longest away journey of the season coming up very soon - the 650-mile round trip to Plymouth on January 3rd - a few numbers to fuel the debate (and there must be one taking place somewhere) as to who are the most dedicated supporters in the Championship.

If miles travelled is the true measure of a fans devotion then Plymouth's green-and-white army lead the way with any Pilgrim that makes it to all 23 away games also recording a staggering 12,292 miles travelled in the process.

Second are the followers of Sunderland, who get off relatively lightly at 10,616 miles, while Blue's fans are fifth in the travelling stakes clocking up 7,996 miles during the course of the 2004/05 campaign.

Coventry City supporters get away with the lowest aggregate distance to travel at 4,900 miles, 7,392 less than there Devon counterparts, while fellow East Midlanders Derby, Leicester and Forest also get off lightly thanks to being centrally located.

Of course the figures exclude cup games and any pre-season friendlies at home or abroad that may entice the diehards to up their seasons travelling costs even further.

The longest journey overall for the season is the 832 mile round trip that the fans of Sunderland and Plymouth will have to undertake to visit each others stadia, while the shortest journey between Championship grounds is the seven miles that separates West Ham and Millwall, although the journey from Sheffield United to Rotherham is just a mile further at eight.

Team Agg Miles
Plymouth Argyle 12,292
Sunderland 10,616
Cardiff City 8,456
Brighton & Hove Albion 8,426
Ipswich Town 7,996
Gillingham 7,706
Burnley 7,380
Preston North End 7,196
Reading 6,720
West Ham United 6,680
Wigan Athletic 6,624
Leeds United 6,582
Millwall 6,340
Queens Park Rangers 6,024
Watford 5,836
Rotherham United 5,748
Sheffield United 5,742
Crewe Alexandra 5,704
Stoke City 5,442
Wolverhampton Wanderers 5,262
Nottingham Forest 5,068
Leicester City 5,034
Derby County 4,954
Coventry City 4,900

NB: All mileages derived from Tony Kempsters excellent "English Football" website:


Monday, December 27

Millwall 3 Town 1

The New Den

Despite dominating the first forty-five minutes at the New Den yesterday, Town went in a goal down at the break to Barry Hayles looping 25-yard stoppage time shot. Danny Dichio, put the home side further ahead with a close-range tap in shortly after the restart before Town threatened a fourth consecutive come-from-behind-revival when Shefki Kuqi back-heeled into the Lion's goal on the hour. However, Town's fourth away defeat of the season was confirmed when Scott Dobie beat an ineffective offside trap to score on 79.

The scoreline was not a true reflection of play, thought BFJ, and Town should have had a penalty: "I can't remember a more one sided first-half and they've scored with their only shot at goal. We should have had a penalty when Tommy [Miller] went down in the box. I'm not blaming the referee, he was outstanding throughout the game but I felt the linesman should have been stronger."

Miller appeared to be fouled by Peter Sweeney as he shaped up for a shot: "It was definitely a penalty. The lad clipped me. I had no reason to go down because I was through for a shot at goal. He caught me on the ankle and I know there was contact. It was more a decision for the linesman than the referee. He was right in line with me and was in a great position to see the incident and I expected to see the flag go up but it didn't go our way."

Despite the 3-1 loss, Town remain top of the Championship as Wigan Athletic lost 2-1 at home to George Burley's Derby County. Sunderland missed the opportunity to draw level with the Blue's on points as they lost 3-2 at home to Leeds, but Reading moved within two points following their 3-0 win against Watford.

Tomorrow's opponents Stoke City have dropped off the pace in the Championship, since their 3-2 home win over Town back in September put them top, and head into the game 11 points behind the Blue's. Jim Magilton should be back in the starting line-up for the game while Arsenal loanee Daniel Karbassiyoon, a late second half sub yesterday, should start the game against the Potters on the bench.

And lastly, Town are being linked once again with Everton's Duncan Ferguson. BFJ is refusing to confirm or deny rumours that the big Scot will be on his way to FPR should Town gain promotion to the Premiership in the New Year. "I'm not thinking about next season yet," he said.

Saturday, December 25

Merry Christmas

"Although this new Santa-forward cost us deer, we will sleigh the opposition" [groan]

A Merry Christmas and a Goalden New Year from prideofanglia.com and portman road blog!

Friday, December 24

Joe's selection dilemma

With Kevin Horlock back from his one match ban BFJ faces a selection dilemma for the game at Millwall on Boxing Day. Does Horlock, in excellent form prior to missing the Wigan game, go straight back into the starting eleven? If yes then who gets left out? Darren Currie who was instrumental in Tuesday nights victory over the Latics and the 4-2 come from behind win over QPR? Ian Westlake? Tommy Miller?

A squad of 17 will be making the trip to the New Den: Bent, Bowditch, Collins, Counago, Currie, Davis, De Vos, Horlock, Karbassiyoon, Kuqi, Magilton, Miller, Naylor, Richards, Supple, Westlake and Wilnis.

Kelvin Davis believes Town have yet to hit top form despite leading the Championship going into the Christmas period. "The togetherness of the team is great but, if you went around and asked the lads, I am sure they would all say that we have not been at our best yet. I still feel there is a lot more to come from us. Even when we were top of the Championship for a little while before, we could have played better and we all know that."

Thursday, December 23


Kit 1

Ian Westlake has signed a new deal that will keeping him at FPR until the summer of 2008. Tommy Miller, Shefki Kuqi, Jim Magilton, Drissa Diallo and Fabian Wilnis, whose existing deals run out in June, are all likely to be offered new ones in January, with the club anxious to avoid a repeat of last summer when a number of "wanted" players left because of the lateness of new contract offers.

Prepare for a bumpy ride warns Jim Magilton, as Town look to maintain pole position during the second half of the Championship campaign: "My advice to our supporters is to get ready for a memorable second half of the season. It won't be dull, so they should fasten their seatbelts."

And lastly, Kit 1 (pictured above) will be Town's new home strip for the 2005/06 season. Designed by Cobbold Stand season ticket holder Mark Tabor and his girlfriend, the strip received 43% of the vote in the recent fans poll.

Wednesday, December 22

Town 2 Wigan 1

Town leapfrogged Wigan to take pole position in the Championship with a 2-1 victory at a foggy FPR last night. For the third time in as many games the Blue's had to show their mettle to come from behind after drawing at Crewe and winning in style at QPR. This time they found themselves a goal down after 56 minutes when Leighton Baines's stunning 40-yard strike found the top corner of the net. But Richard Naylor equalised 10 minutes later with a glancing header from a Darren Currie corner and Darren Bent clinched all three points with a half-volley a minute from time that looped over Latics 'keeper John Filan.

Being top at Christmas is no guarantee that you will be there come the end of the season but, as David Sheepshanks rightly pointed out after the game: "Psychologically it was important to win that game and especially to come back from such a wonder strike; it just shows the extraordinary spirit that just runs right through the team and through every member of this Club."

BFJ says he was close to replacing Darren Bent before his last gasp winner: "He wasn't having his best game and I did consider substituting him because it wasn't going his way, but I reminded myself he's our top scorer and he only needs one chance. It's nice when it works out."

And Town's manager thought the Blue's were well worth their three points: "It's great to be top at Christmas and I'll enjoy my dinner this year but there is a long way to go yet and we are not getting carried away."

Latics manager Paul Jewell while disappointed with his sides performance thought Town deserved the win: "Although we started quite well and created a few chances, I have to be honest and say that I thought the better team won on the night."

Tuesday, December 21

Karbassiyoon joins Town

Arsenal's American youngster Daniel Karbassiyoon has joined Town on a months loan. With Drissa Diallo picking up an injury in training over the weekend BFJ has moved quickly to secure defensive cover. 20-year-old Karbassiyoon, who has made three Carling Cup appearances for the Gunner's this season and represented the USA at U-17 and U-19 levels, is expected to go straight into the squad for tonight's home game with leaders Wigan. "Daniel was off home to spend Christmas in Virginia but he has given that up to spend it with us at Millwall!" BFJ told the official site.

Jason De Vos is backing Town's strike partnership of Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi to win this evenings battle of the strikers and outscore the Latic's Nathan Ellington and Jason Roberts. "Benty and Shefki have really done the business this season without getting the same headlines as the Wigan strikers. We need them firing and if they are, I think they can really hurt Wigan."

And BFJ has asked the FPR crowd to do their bit too. "It's a massive game and hopefully the occasion - I always think a game under floodlights creates a better atmosphere - will bring out the best in everyone. The prize for victory could hardly be bigger and while I have a great respect for Wigan we are at home in front of a full house and must look to make that count in our favour. Our supporters have been in great form themselves all season. They can cheer us to victory and give themselves the perfect Christmas present.'"

Monday, December 20

Diallo out until New Year

Darren Currie will almost certainly make his home debut in tomorrow's top of the table clash against Wigan as BFJ shuffles the side around to cater for the suspension of Kevin Horlock and an injury to Drissa Diallo. "Drissa has partially torn a tendon in his hamstring [in training over the weekend] and it means he will certainly miss the Christmas and New Year games," Town physiotherapist Dave Williams told the official site. Diallo's injury will see Fabian Wilnis switching to right back and Matt Richards coming in on the left.

Latics assistant manager Chris Hutchings has been playing down the importance of the game: "Nothing is decided in December, there is plenty of football to be played this season. This one game is going to make very little difference on who gets promoted or relegated, it is a big game and an important game for both sides, but it's only three points."

Former Town man Alan Mahon says he would like to see both sides promoted: "Both clubs believe they have what it takes to win promotion and if I had my way, we’d both go up. In an idea world I'd like to see Ipswich win automatic promotion and finish second in the table - behind us of course."

Interest from the likes of Charlton, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Everton is flattering and a boost to his confidence says Darren Bent, but he's happy at Ipswich and doesn't want to be anywhere else at the moment. "It'd be silly to leave at the moment as we've got a chance of going to The Premiership with a team that has come up though the academy. So I'm happy here and just want to keep going. It would be fantastic to go up."

And lastly, Lewis Price's loan deal at Cambridge United has been extended for a second month.

Sunday, December 19

Joe is the man

Former Town manager John Lyall, in a rare interview since his departure from FPR in December 1994, says that BFJ is the man to get Town back into the Premiership: "Joe has great experience and a huge knowledge of the game. He is an excellent manager and he can get Ipswich promoted."

Lyall who was appointed Town manager in 1990 said: "The season when Ipswich won the old Second Division title in 1991/92 to join the Premiership in its inaugural season ranks as one of the happiest in my footballing career. And there are similarities between that campaign and this one. My players were a genuine bunch and were all so willing to listen and learn."

Sunderland drew level on points with Town yesterday with a 2-1 victory over Burnley at the Stadium of Light and Reading moved within two following a 1-0 win against QPR.

Town of course take on leaders Wigan at FPR on Tuesday night in the top of the table clash with the visitors having not yet given up hope of signing Burnley striker Robbie Blake in time for the game.

Friday, December 17

Sheepshanks on FIFA committee

David Sheepshanks is in Zurich attending the inaugural meeting of a new FIFA Club Task Force of which Town are one of the UEFA representatives. The aim of the task force is to gather views of clubs from around the world but has no official capacity. "I see this as a great honour for the Club, to be recognised in this way," Town's chairman told the official site. "While I have previously served on a UEFA committee, I have never had any involvement with FIFA."

There will be a minutes silence in memory of former Wigan manager Harry McNally before Tuesday night's game with the Latics. McNally who managed Wigan between 1983 and 1985 passed away last Sunday.

Shefki Kuqi could be called up for national service in Finland. All Finnish nationals must serve six months in the Army before they reach age 30 and Kuqi, who is 28, has yet to do his stint. "I was unaware of this and will have to speak to Shefki," said BFJ.

And lastly, Town's U-18's will face Stoke City in the 4th Round of the FA Youth Cup after the young Potters defeated Manchester United 1-0 last night.

Thursday, December 16

Joe and Willy sign until 2007

Joe Royle and assistant Willie Donachie have both signed the two-year contract extensions announced at the clubs AGM last month and are committed to stay with Town until the summer of 2007. "We are both delighted to have signed," said BFJ. "I love the place, the club and look forward to another two-and-a-half years here. I'm not really one for contracts and certainly wasn't pushing for it, but the chairman wanted to do it which was nice."

Bill Clarke signed professional terms with the club today, a deal that will keep him at FPR until 2007. The 17-year-old Irish striker told the official site: "I've played for the reserves this season and scored a few goals and now my next target is to try and force my way into the first-team squad by the end of the season. I've seen Owen Garvan and Darryl Knights do it and that drives you on."

Elsewhere, Richard Logan, presently with Peterborough, looks set to join Grimsby. Logan who was released by Town in 2002 had a brief loan spell at Shrewsbury earlier this season.

Wednesday, December 15

BFJ hopes to bolster defence

Having strengthened the midfield with last weeks signing of Darren Currie, BFJ would now like to beef up defensive cover, and hopes to do so before Christmas: "... I still feel we are short of cover at the back should we pick up a suspension or an injury or both with so many games coming up. So I would like to bring a defender in and it's not impossible that we could have someone here before Christmas. I have spoken to one club in particular about a player this week and we shall see what develops."

Elsewhere, 17-year-old striker Billy Clarke has signed professional terms with Town, while former front man Alun Armstrong has agreed a new deal with Darlington that will keep him there until the end of the season. Armstrong has scored eight goals for the Quakers in 14 appearances.

Tuesday, December 14

Youths advance

Town's U-18's beat Portsmouth 3-2 after extra time at FPR last night to earn an FA Youth Cup 4th Round tie against either Stoke City or Manchester United.

Town dominated large parts of a high tempo game but allowed the visitors to score twice against the run of play. Matt Day put Pompey ahead early in the second half before James Krause first powered home an equaliser and then Billy Clarke put Town 2-1 up following some excellent build-up play. The Blue's should have built on that lead but allowed the visitors back into the game with quarter of an hour left in normal time when Daryl Fordyce's deflected shot looped over Shane Supple.

Town somehow failed to find the back of the net in the first period of extra-time, Daryl Knights twice going close, before finally finding a winner three minutes into the second period when Charlie Sherringham's pass found Danny Hayes who rounded the 'keeper and slotted home.

An exciting contest but a shame that it was watched by just 520 fans - others perhaps put off by freezing temperatures.

The ticket office phones are "burning" as fans buy up tickets for the three games at FPR over the festive season. The visit of West Ham on January 1st should be a sell-out, the Wigan game next Tuesday (December 21st) is heading for a crowd of around 27,000 and a brisk trade for the Stoke clash on December 28th is reported, although there is likely to be plenty of seats available on the day for that game. The top of the table clash with Wigan and the Stoke game are both "live" Sky games.

BFJ is looking to dip into the loan market to bolster his squad ahead of Town's hectic Christmas schedule and a new face could be in place for the match against Wigan. "There is room in the budget for one loan signing and in an ideal world I'd like to sort something out before the Christmas programme gets under way."

CEO Derek Bowden says contract talks will take place in January with players whose current deals are up at the end of the season, including Jim Magilton, Fabian Wilnis, Drissa Diallo, Shefki Kuqi, Antonio Murray and Tommy Miller. Bowden said, "Joe will talks to all those players he needs to in January after we have got the Christmas period of fixtures over with. There are a lot of players out of contract who we want to keep and he will talk to them or their agents."

And lastly, a new website for the ITWFC under 11's can be found here and will be on-line until the official site for all the ITWFC teams is re-launched in 2005. The girls by the way recorded a fine 5-1 victory over the Waveney Herons on Sunday.

Sunday, December 12

QPR v Town pictures


QPR 2 Town 4

Town kept pace with Championship leaders Wigan with a 4-2 win over QPR at a packed Loftus Road yesterday afternoon. Town could have been four goals up before taking the lead through Jason De Vos after 25 minutes, but QPR's Chris Day making a string of excellent saves to keep Town at bay. And then, in the space of five minutes, Town found themselves behind when Paul Furlong first equalised, and then put Ranger's ahead, with two long range thunderbolt's, beating Kelvin Davis first on his left and then on his right.

Having lost there way in the first half, Town hit back in style in the second, with the introduction of Darren Currie in the 55th minute proving to be the catalyst. Currie's pass found Shefki Kuqi who set up Darren Bent for the equaliser, and his 10th of the season (58), Currie then put Town ahead quarter-of-an-hour later with a curling shot that took a deflection past Day (72) and Kuqi, scoring his 10th of the campaign, crashed home his shot to put the result beyond doubt (77).

BFJ, who had been watching Currie for a number of seasons, said of Town's new midfielder: "He had a terrific impact on the game. I have been aware of Darren for some years, and it came to our notice before the Brighton game that he was in the best form of his career - he was their best player against us. He has quality: he loves the ball, and the ball loves him."

The home side's defeat was harsh, according to QPR manager Ian Holloway: "They did not deserve to win by two goals. But there is no shame in being beaten by Ipswich. They are one of the best teams - if not the best team - that we have played this season."

Kevin Horlock will serve an automatic one match ban, after picking up his 5th booking of the season, and misses the Wigan home game on December 21st. Speaking of the ban BFJ said: "That was another reason to bring Darren Currie in because we knew we were light in midfield and with Kevin out, it would have meant playing 433 instead of having the option of sticking with four across the middle of the park."

And lastly, Currie, apparently the most tattooed footballer in the English game, became the 48th Town player to score on his first team debut.

Friday, December 10

Currie signs

Town have signed Brighton midfielder Darren Currie for GBP250,000. The 30-year-old agreed personal terms and passed a medical this morning and goes straight into the squad for the QPR game tomorrow. Currie, nephew of 70's legend Tony Currie (who played for Sheffield United and England), becomes the first player to join Town for a fee since George Burley signed Marcus Bent back in November 2001.

Owen Garvan had been named in the squad for the trip to Loftus Road but could possibly be left out following the signing of Currie. The 16-year-old midfielder had an outstanding game for the reserves in the 1-1 draw with Derby earlier in the week according to coach Steve McCall. Town: Bent, Bowditch, Collins, Counago, Currie, Davis, De Vos, Diallo, Garvan, Horlock, Kuqi, Magilton, Miller, Naylor, Richards, Supple, Westlake and Wilnis.

Town will meet up with Georges Santos tomorrow for the first time since his move to QPR in the summer. Santos, who spent just twelve months at FPR, expects both Town and the R's to be in or around the promotion pack at the end of the season. "We are both in the top six at the moment and I believe we are capable of staying there for the remainder of the season."

Academy player's Daniel Flack and Adem Atay will not be offered professional contracts with the club this summer and are free to find new club's in the meantime. BFJ has also said the club are looking for a loan club for reserve midfielder Antonio Murray.

Tommy Miller, who's contract runs out in the summer, says he will listen to offers from other clubs in the New Year to safeguard his future. Miller, who does not expect an offer from Town until they know which division they will be playing in next season, said: "I absolutely love it here at Ipswich and I'm really settled in the area, so I would not want to go but we are allowed to talk to other clubs in January and I would be prepared to look at that."

The vacant manager's slot at Oxford United, a position that Town captain Jim Magilton had been linked with a couple of weeks ago, has been taken by former Argentina international striker Ramon Diaz.

And lastly, Barry Knight takes charge of his first Bolton game for four years when he referee's their Premiership game at Norwich tomorrow. Bolton manager Sam Allardyce will no doubt be looking forward to meeting up with Knight for the first time since Town tonked the Trotter's 5-3 in the 2000 play-off semi-finals. Knights sent off two of Allardyce's mindless thugs, booked nine more and awarded Town three penalties - and quite rightly too.

Thursday, December 9

Player's to dig deep

Town players are ready to dig into their own pockets to raise money to pay for a charter flight to Plymouth for the long haul to Devon in the New Year. "It is a long, long, way and I would certainly chip in. Skipper Jim Magilton has said we have a fantastic opportunity to get in the Premier League and he is right. I don't think we should let any little thing stand in our way," Jason De Vos tells the EADT today. "We should be as professional as we can about everything and, if finances at the club are that tight, then I'm sure all the players would be more than happy to pay for the flight because, at the end of it, we are only helping ourselves." Still smarting from the 2-0 loss to Sunderland, following a long coach journey, Town are anxious to avoid a repeat at Plymouth, the furthest Championship club away from Ipswich.

Daryl Murphy's week long trial with Town has been cut short through injury. The Republic of Ireland U21 international has returned home with a groin strain but hopes to be back to try again in January. And another youngster that has caught Town's attention, South African Dean van Staden, was due to play for Needham Market in a friendly last night. The 19-year-old central defender, from South African league side University of Pretoria, is looking for a permanent deal with a British side.

Elsewhere, one of two "European Team of The Year" medals, awarded to Town in 1981 by sportswear company Adidas and France Football magazine is up for auction on Ebay. Current bid (last time I looked) is GBP320.00. 1981 is debatably the best year in the clubs history, a year that saw a UEFA Cup win, a second place finish in Division One and an FA Cup semi-final appearance. Was it really 23 years ago?

Wednesday, December 8

Reserves draw at Pride Park

Owen Garvan's 10th minute strike cancelled out Marcus Tudgay's 4th minute opener to earn the reserves a point in a 1-1 draw at Derby last night. The Republic of Ireland youth international giving Rams 'keeper Lee Grant no chance with a powerful shot from just inside the area. Town: Supple, Synott (Craig 62), Collins, Hogg, Mitchell, Murray (Flack 45), Manning, Garvan, Richards, Counago (Knights 62), Bowditch. Unused subs: Atay and Clarke.

Matt Richards has vowed to win back his first team place. A regular for most of 2003/04, the England U-21 defender lost his place at the beginning of this season with an ankle injury. "It's been quite frustrating for me because every player wants to be out on the pitch. But the team have been playing well, the defence has been looking strong so there has been little reason to change things around. It means I have to be patient and continue to work hard in training and play well in the reserves and wait until my chance comes along."

That's it!

Tuesday, December 7

Royle: Bring on the Trotters

BFJ is confident that Town can dispose of Bolton following the two sides paring in the third round of the FA Cup. "We are strong at home and have yet to be beaten on our own pitch this season. This gives us a great chance of going through to the fourth round."

Should Daryl Murphy's week long trial at Town prove a success the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international could move to FPR for free. Murphy is rated around the GBP250,000 mark but an international move, from Ireland to the UK, would mean that rules that require a fee to be paid for an under 23-year-old could be side stepped.

Tommy Miller, who was prevented from playing from Scotland under Bertie Vogt's due to injury, is very much part of Walter Smith and Tommy Burns plans as they take custody of Scottish National team affairs following Vogt's resignation last month.

Monday, December 6

Keep believing and stay positive say's Jim

One Anglia's "Delia Smith": Rusty, belches black smoke and in need of a good servicing

Despite Saturday's slight blip at Crewe, Town captain Jim Magilton says that Town have put themselves in a great position, but they must remain positive and keep believing in themselves if they are to gain promotion come May.

"We've given ourselves every chance if we're still there or thereabouts at Christmas. Our objective at the start of the season was to get off to a good start. We've done that and we've maintained it. Now really it's up to us. We've got to keep going, keep believing and stay positive. People are going to play catch-up. The big guns haven't really started firing and I expect a late challenge from maybe one, but I firmly believe that we've got a good chance. There's a long way to go and our objective remains the same and that's the ultimate goal of reaching the Premiership."

Waterford United's Daryl Murphy will be joining Town today for a week-long trial. The former Luton trainee, and Republic of Ireland U-21 international, has scored 22 goals in all competitions so far this year.

Yesterday's FA Cup third round draw pitted the Blue's against our good friends Bolton Wanderers, a tie that BFJ is looking forward to. "This will be a good test of our Premiership ambitions. Sam [Allardyce] and I go back a long way and he has done a brilliant job at Bolton. He has had to work hard with free transfers and triallists and, along the way, has rescued a couple of careers for people like Kevin Davies."

Former loanee midfielder Alan Mahon was on the scoresheet for Wigan yesterday as they trounced Preston 5-0 at the JJB Stadium to leap-frog Town and move back to the top of the Championship.

And lastly, a number of Town fans travelling from Cambridge to Ipswich for last weekend's home game with Brighton refused to board One Anglia's service because the train bore the name "Delia Smith". Operator One has a number of trains named after local celebrities including the "Sir Alf Ramsey".

Sunday, December 5

Crewe 2 Town 2

Gresty Road

Town increased their lead to two points at the top of the Championship but had to overcome a 2-0 half-time deficit to draw 2-2 against Crewe Alexandra as Gresty Road yesterday. The highly rated Dean Ashton put the home side ahead with two well taken strikes to up his tally to the season to 17. But the Blue's, who could have been two goals up through Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi before Ashton's first goal, fought back strongly in the second period with goals from Richard Naylor and Darren Bent. BFJ thought it very much a case of two points dropped rather than one earned:

"I don't know how we were behind at half-time to be honest. Television will confirm or not confirm my opinion that both goals were borderline offside and we've missed four or five chances that we would have put away with some appendage to our bodies. In the second half it was one-way traffic and our goalkeeper was redundant. It was a great comeback and the second half was a great display of in-your-face passing football. You can see it either way and I won't argue. If you're two goals down on foreign soil and you come back it's a great revival. If you miss enough chances to win three games then it's two points lost, which we did and I don't think even Dario will argue with that."

Elsewhere, the U-18's outclassed their West Ham counterparts to record a 4-0 victory at Playford Road.

Saturday, December 4


BFJ says nothing would please Crewe manager Dario Gradi more than to knock Town off top spot in the Championship at Gresty Road later today. The Railwaymen are in excellent form at the moment and have won their last three league games. "I can see Dario rubbing his hands. Make no mistake, they will be waiting for us and we will have to be ready to cope. They are a dangerous team. But as league leaders we want to stay there and that means winning, rather than drawing, games. We know what we have to do up there."

Town should be unchanged from last Saturday's victory over Brighton although Kelvin Davis did miss two days training this week with a dead leg.

And elsewhere, over 500 half-season tickets have been taken up by supporters keen to watch the Championship run in at FPR, and the Club's Hospitality and Events department have clinched first place in the Championship category of Directors' Choice in the National Association of Caterers' awards (bit of a mouthful so to speak).

Friday, December 3

Royle cursed?/Ashton was target

Joe Royle has been named Championship manager of the month for November, the third time he has picked up the award in his two years at FPR. Town won four of their five league games during the month, thrashed Sheffield United 5-1, kept three clean sheets, and now top the table.

BFJ will be looking to reverse the curse that goes with winning the award as Town have lost their subsequent games on both occasions he has previously been honoured. Following his March '03 award Town lost 4-3 at home to Forest, and they lost by the same scoreline to Gillingham after his October '03 success!

Crewe striker Dean Ashton was top of BFJ's list to replace Darren Bent had Town's board accepted Charlton's GBP3.0M offer for him back in August. "Had the directors decided to accept the offer for Benty, the player I would have wanted to replace him was Ashton. He was at the top of my list and I don't mind admitting it."

Neither Owen Garvan or Darryl Knights are included in squad for the visit to Crewe tomorrow. Owen had been in the squad for the Brighton game as cover for Tommy Miller, who was recovering from an injured elbow, while Knights provided back up for Dean Bowditch, who had been nursing an injured ankle.

Town: Bent, Bowditch, Collins, Counago, Davis, De Vos, Diallo, Horlock, Kuqi, Magilton, Miller, Naylor, Richards, Supple, Westlake and Wilnis

Thursday, December 2

BFJ has loan targets in mind

Sell out

BFJ has two or three player's in mind to bring in on loan should reinforcements be required over the Christmas period, and has not ruled out the possibility of bringing in Palace's Shaun Derry, despite being told by Simon Jordan that the player was only available on a permanent deal. "If Palace changed their mind I would still be interested. But Mr Jordan owns the club and is entitled to do and say exactly what he wants. I have two or three different kinds of players in mind. Because of the versatility within my squad, I can't say if I would definitely want to bring in a wide or a central midfielder. Both Ian Westlake and Tommy Miller can play both roles, so it would depend on our exact needs at the time as to who, if anyone, we would try to bring in on loan."

Irish midfielder Owen Garvan is hoping to keep his place in the squad for Saturday's trip to Crewe's Gresty Road. The 16-year-old, who only joined the Academy last summer, was on the bench for the first time on Saturday and wants more of the same. "I'd only been to Portman Road a couple of times before the Brighton game. Jim Magilton showed me around the place and when I walked into the dressing-room and saw my name and number on the peg, it was just amazing."

Ex-Canary Mark Rivers, who had a weeks trial with Town during pre-season, is the man to watch out for at Crewe says BFJ. "He will definitely be looking to prove a point."

The game at QPR in a weeks time is heading for a 17,000 sell-out. Town sold the remainder of their allocation earlier this week and only restricted view seats remain for R's fans.

Jason de Vos, who turned down the offer of a two-year contract extension at Wigan to join Town in May, says the move to FPR best decision of his career. "It has been the best decision of my career to come here. Ipswich is a fabulous club and I'm really enjoying my football. Things are going well for us on the pitch and I'm delighted we are top."

And lastly, Town have been allocated ball number 18 in this weekend's FA Cup 3rd Round draw. Gary Pallister and Tony Cascarino will be rummaging about in velvet bags at 4pm on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 1

Under fire

The FA have charged Brighton manager Mark McGhee with abusive behaviour toward a match official following Albion's 1-0 defeat at FPR on Saturday. Brighton had two penalty appeals turned down by Referee Trevor Kettle who presumably was the target of a McGhee tirade.

Town have come under fire from Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan for the way they conducted negotiations with his club when trying to land midfielder Shaun Derry on loan. "Ipswich wanted him on loan and were pleading poverty, but if they're so poor, why didn't they accept the GBP3.0M they were offered for Darren Bent?"

And lastly, Town's reserves lost 1-0 to Palace at Selhurst Park last night. The Eagles, including Shaun Derry in their starting line-up, secured victory through a Sandor Torghelle strike after 36 minutes.


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