Europe’s Forgotten Clubs:Ipswich Town

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The region of East Anglia located on the eastern coast of England is divided between between Norfolk and Suffolk,Cambridgeshire in which is located one of the most famous universities in the world,the University of Cambridge.However when it comes to football it is between Norfolf and Suffolk counties and their respective teams Norwich City and Ipswich Town.Besides that the canaries of Norwich have played in the Premier League and in the last couple of seasons acts like an yo-yo club between the Championship League and the Premier League it is the club from Suffolk county and their rival in the Old Farm derby Ipswich Town which is much more successful.Ipswich Town was formed in 1878 and in the 1886-87 season won the Suffolk Senior Cup which was their 1st major trophy however it wasn’t until 1938 that Ipswich Town became a professional club and was elected to join the Football League after spending six decades in amateur ranks where 16 Suffolk Senior Cup titles.In the years after the election to the Football League,Ipswich wasn’t a successful club and it was basically wandering in the lower leagues of the Football League besides that led by Tom Garneys who was club’s best striker in the 1950s,Ipswich got promoted to the Second Division in the 1953-54 season only to be relegated back to the Third Division in the next season.But after Scott Duncan left the club after coaching it for two long decades (1936-1955),Ipswich appointed former Tottenham and Southampton right-back Alf Ramsey which launched a golden era at Ipswich Town and the club moved from being an obscure local club into the European stage.In his first season in charge (1955-56) Ramsey turned the club in which Ipswich scored 106 goals in 46 matches and finished 3rd in the Third Division (South) but in the next 1956-57 season Ipswich was promoted back to the Second Division with the emergence of Ted Philips who scored 46 goals in a season which to this day is a club record.Ipswich enjoyed moderate success in the Second Division and in the FA Cup in the end of the 1950s until after three years spending in the Second Division they were promoted ahead of Sheffield United and Liverpool in the 1960-61 season to the First Division for the first time in their history.But it was the next 1961-62 season which put Ipswich on the map of English and European football as well as in history books when led by Ray Crawford and Ted Philips with Alf Ramsey on the bench they won their first and only First Division title and with that they went to play in the European Champions Cup next season.In the 1962-63 season as the Champion of England Ipswich participated in the European Champions Cup where in the Preliminary round faced the Maltese club of Fiorana which in the 1st leg in Malta they won 4-1 while at home at Portman Road Ipswich completely demolished Fiorana 10-0 with Crawford scoring five goals.But in the next round in their first adventure in Europe Ispwich Town faced none other else than the eventual winners of the European Champions Cup later that season AC Milan.Ipswich Town lost both legs of the 1st round against AC Milan (3-0,1-2),while Ramsey quit the job as Ipswich manager in April 1963 in order to coach the English National Team in which he won the 1966 FIFA World Cup.After the departure of Ramsey Ipswich went through a period of decline which saw them to drop to the Second Division just after two seasons they won the First Division title,until the 1967-68 season where under Bill McGarry they won the Second Division title which meant a return to the First Division,however Bill McGarry left the club for the Wolverhampton Wanderers and he was repleaced by Bobby Robson who led Ipswich Town to European glory.After they finished 4th in the First Division in the 1972-73 season,Ipswich qualified for the UEFA Cup for next season and returned for European competitions after being absent for a decade.In the 1973-74 UEFA Cup by facing none other else than Real Madrid in the 1st round and they shocked the football world by beating Real by a single goal and by drawing 0-0 at Bernabeu which meant they advanced to the 2nd where they faced Lazio led by Giorgio Chilaglia in which they won their 1st leg at Portman Road,but lost in italy 2-4 but it was enough to advance to the 3rd round where they faced FC Twente which in they beat them in both legs (1-0,2-1).Eventually Ipswich exited the UEFA Cup in the quarterfinals against the East Germans of Lokomotive Leipzig after losing of penatly shootouts.In the next three seasons Next season Ipswich entered again the UEFA Cup but crashed in the 1st round against the team they beat last season,FC Twente.While in the next 1975-76 season Ipswich reached the 2nd round of the UEFA Cup after they were defeated by the eventual finalists of the competition that season Club Brugge.In the 1977-78 season Ipswich beat Landskrona BoIS and Las Palmas in order to reach the 3rd round where afeter penalty shootouts were defeated by mighty FC Barcelona.On the club plan Robson built a strong side in every department with players like Arnold Muchren,Frank Thijssen,Jack Wark,Terry Butcher and Paul Mariner besides that it didn’t had the depth which clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United but during the Bobby Robson era the club was constantly in the top five with the 1977-78 season when they finished 18th but in the same season they won the FA Cup by beating Arsenal in the final thanks to a goal scored by Roger Osborne.In the 1978-79 season thanks to the FA Cup victory in the previous season Ipswich Town qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners Cup where they reached the quarterfinals by beating AZ Alkmaar and Wacker Innsbruck,only to be again defeated in the quarterfinals by FC Barcelona.Ispwich returned to the UEFA Cup in the 1979-80 season but crashed in the 2nd round thanks to the away goal rule by Grasshopper Zurich.But it was the before the glory which would achieve in the next 1980-81 season.Ipswich Town made the final of the UEFA Cup in the 1980-81 season after years being in the competition for the large period of the 1970s,they beat Aris Thessalonki (5-1,1-3),Bohemians Prague (3-0,0-2),Widzew Lodz (5-0,0-1),Saint-Etienne (1-4,1-3) in which Michel Platini played and 1.FC Koln (1-0,1-0) and in the final in two legs they faced AZ Alkmaar in which in the 1st leg at Portman Road they defeated them 3-0 but lost the 2nd leg in Amsterdam 4-2 but it was enough for Ipswich’s first and only European trophy.

That was the height of success of Ipswich Town which had during the Bobby Robson era where they won the FA Cup,the UEFA Cup and finished twice 2nd in the First Division (1981,1982),in the 1981-82 season Ipswich returned to the UEFA Cup as title holders but they immediately crashed in the 1st round where Aberdeen defeated them in the 2nd leg 1-3 after  a 1-1 draw.After the Bobby Robson left the club for the manager position of the English National Team,Ipswich went into decline and in the 1985-86 season was relegated to the Second Division after 16 years of playing in the First Division.They managed to return to the Premier League in the 1991-92 season,but again the were relegated in the 1994-95 season and it took five seasons to return in the Premier League when they beat Barnsley in the Champioship League playoff final 4-2 and in their first season (2000-2001) in the Premier League they achieved a respectable 5th place which was enough to play in the UEFA Cup in the 2001-2002 season after more than two decades being absent from the competition,they made it into the 3rd round after beating Torpedo Moscow and Helsingborg where they were defeated by Inter Milan and played one more season in Europe thanks to the UEFA Fair Play system besides that they were relegated from the Premier League.In its last run in Europe Ipswich Town reached the 2nd round of the UEFA Cup where they were defeated by Slovan Liberec on penalty shootouts.That was the last of Ipswich Town in European competitions,currently Ipswich Town after being relegated from the Premier League is playing in the Championship League in which they are trying to achieve promotion to the Premier League and hopefully a return to Europe.

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