I don’t know about you but I really enjoyed it on Saturday.
Ipswich Town’s comeback to its fans after more than seven months may not have ended in victory, but Paul Cook Blues’ new look has given us something to be positive about.
There won’t be many Town fans who return home worried or disappointed.
I’ll talk more about the game and the new players in a moment, but oh my gosh, it was so nice to be back to a live Town match.
Walking through Cardinal Park seeing Ipswich fans eating at restaurants dressed in their blue shirts. Young people enthusiastically jumped alongside parents as they made their way to the turnstiles, with fans trying on their new Town shirts outside of Planet Blue having just made their purchase. And of course the new signage on the Cobbold stand, ‘Our Town, Our Team’.
Like many, my neck was strained as I walked enjoying all the good times our club has had over the years with the new signage looking so beautiful.
There’s a long way to go to tidy up Portman Road, but it’s a good start.
So let’s play.
Well the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as the teams came out to a deafening welcome.
Fans of the city can really make so much noise. How many were there on Saturday, 6,000? Wow! It was like 26,000. Imagine when we get the regular crowds of over 20,000 people, which I think we will. The atmosphere is going to be great. It will bounce off the players.
I spoke to Rekeem Harper after the game and you could tell he was still on top, that he had lapped up the atmosphere, enjoyed the performance, and this is only the preseason.
Of course, Palace was a class above and Wilfried Zaha in a class of its own. I have to admit that Zaha is one of my current favorite Premier League players, which she plays week after week with one of the less fashionable clubs in the league.
But for the Blues, it was a new look, a new feeling but with familiar faces at first.
Nothing more than Kane Vincent-Young who really seems to find his mojo. He has the ability to be one of the best right-backs in League One this season, his marauding races should delight us.
There was something positive everywhere. With Wes Burns turning on the afterburners occasionally, he’ll skin defensemen Joe Pigott, a ball forward who has shown he knows where the goal is as his 20-yard second half thunders off the post.
Harper, Scott Fraser, Matt Penney all impressed, with new goalkeeper Václav Hladký producing great saves and a good distribution. Lee Evans is expected to return next week, more signings to come. Chuck in a strong performance as Toto Nsiala captain and James Norwood working his socks up front, young Cameron Humphreys seizing his chance. I liked everything.
The pace of work, the rapid movement, goes into the box, this team already bears the name of Paul Cook everywhere.
It’s only the preseason, yes I know, and there’s a full League One schedule with a lot of good teams against us. You don’t win anything in July, but as I’ve said several times in this column over the past few months, it really looks a lot different.
We have a strong team, a manager who knows how to win, new owners who understand our past and want a lot for our future and a CEO who will be looking to make a difference on and off the pitch.
Our brilliant fans, who have endured so much in recent years, have a huge role to play, and they will.
If the Saturday vibe was something to do, bring it along.