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20 April 2020

"How I became a lifelong Ipswich Town Supporter," a letter from one of Blues' oldest fans

Town fan Maurice Ramsay, who celebrated his 100th birthday on Saturday 18 April, has penned a letter to the Club detailing his love of the Blues.

"How I became a lifelong Ipswich Town Supporter," he writes.

"First, some background. I was born on a farm in Wark On Tyne, Northumberland on 18 April 1920. In 1927 the family moved to live in Norfolk to continue in the Farming business.  I went to school in Swaffham and with the help of the Headmaster joined Lloyds Bank in 1937. I relocated to Wellingborough in Northants and lived in digs. Then came the Second World War and a tour of Burma. After the war, I returned to the bank.

"I had always been very keen on rugby and played in my younger years. The bank sent me to Northampton and I spent time following the Northampton Saints. Then we moved to London and during that time I followed Harlequins, London Scottish, London Welsh, London Irish and Richmond. I was a die-hard and committed rugby man.

"However, as a country boy at heart, I was fed up of living in London and wanted to move back to the country, preferably back to Norfolk and Norwich. But in 1969 I was offered the opportunity to become Lloyds Bank manager at Cornhill in Ipswich. I accepted the position and prepared to move. I admit I was still a rugby man and knew little about football and would only recognise the footballers of the great English 1966 World Cup team. Then I met Bobby Robson...

"In 1969, having arrived in Ipswich and set up house in Rushmere St. Andrew, amongst many discoveries I found we held at the bank the account of Ipswich Town Football Club. They had generously granted my office two tickets to the Directors Box for every game. As a devoted rugby man, I was not sure I wanted to go. I thought at first that I would have difficulty becoming an ardent Ipswich Town fan. However, my son Mark who was 11 at the time was desperate to go, so I promised to take him to a game.

"This was the beginning of those glorious days under the seemingly relaxed attitude and stewardship of the famous Cobbold family, combined with the drive and unending enthusiasm of the Sir Bobby Robson. They welcomed me with open arms and prolonged friendship. We also at that time met the Chairman of the Supporters Club George Knights who ran the bar in the Directors lounge at every game, he was a busy man! I started to become more interested, the game was okay and the hospitality wonderful. I started to attend every game even though the results were mixed at the time.

"At the start of the next season, my son had become ill and needed a stay in hospital. On his return we attended the Manchester United home game. When entering the Directors Box we were greeted by George as usual. Shortly after, Sir Bobby arrived and took my son to the changing rooms to meet the teams. He met all the players of the Ipswich team and was left to talk to them, getting autographs at the same time. Sir Bobby then appeared again and introduced my son to an older man as he told me. That turned out to be Sir Matt Busby, who in turn took him into the Manchester United changing room where he met George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Nobby Stiles and many others. He still has the autograph book today! Ipswich won the game 4-0 and were 3-0 up at half-time. With the continued welcome of the Club and the atmosphere of the fans, I was hooked! I was going to become a permanent Ipswich Town Supporter.

"The next two or three years were not easy, Sir Bobby became under pressure and John Cobbold responded by extending his contract. Although the results were not great, we all stuck with it. However, things were beginning to change, Allan Hunter was signed and soon to be joined by a youngster called Kevin Beattie in defence. No disrespect to Chopper Derek Jefferson or Bobby Bell, but these newcomers gave solidity and flair to the defence.

"At Christmas, I invited the team for pre-lunch drinks at the bank, many players came straight after training on Friday and enjoyed some hospitality. I am not sure how some of them got home, but they still played well on the Saturday. Those really were the days!   

"Late in 1973, I was promoted in the bank, so had to move to Cambridge. But even without the A14 being built we would travel to every game. In 1973, at last we won something, the Texaco Cup, all the sweeter for beating Norwich in the final home and away. The real journey had begun!

"I could go on and on with many stories, but will just tell three that stick in my memory. 

"Later in 1973, we drew the great Real Madrid in the UEFA cup. Nobody apart from Sir Bobby and the team really expected us to win. At home we won 1-0. Thinking this might be our only chance to see Ipswich in Europe [that was certainly wrong] we flew from Luton with Monarch Air Lines for the second leg. In those days, not many made the trip, maybe 200-300. The realisation of the task ahead hit us when we arrived at the Bernabeu stadium. The teams came out and the atmosphere was unbelievable, 200-300 Ipswich supporters trying to make themselves heard amongst 80,000 Spanish. We outplayed Madrid and drew 0-0 and so qualified for the next round. Back at our hotel bar, the singing and drinking and total euphoria was unstoppable. Sir Bobby came to the hotel to thank the fans and was mobbed!

"The start of eight great years was underway!

"A few years later, I remember a game for another reason. In 1977, Ipswich drew Landskrona BoIS in the UEFA cup. We won 5-0 at home and were looking forward to a trip to Sweden.

"We left Harwich on the ferry on a breezy September evening, dinner was served followed by drinks in the bar. I was aware that the ship was starting to move around a bit but thought little of it. In the night a gale force seven had blown up. By morning, the sea was really rough, we were not allowed on deck. I could not stomach breakfast but decided to get up and shave as I do every day. I was left with cuts all over my face and had to patch my face up with toilet paper! The crossing took five hours longer than it should and we still had a long coach ride from Gothenburg to the game. It was worth it. The Swedish people greeted our supporters in Landskrona with wonderful hospitality. Not many of us talked about the game we won 1-0, most of the conversation was about the trip and whether it would be as bad going back as we were desperate to get home as we were playing Liverpool at home on Saturday. We did! We drew 1-1 with Liverpool.

"The other game I cannot forget is the crowning glory! The 1978 FA Cup final. A coach was organised by our pub in our village in Cambridgeshire .

"It rained and rained for two days before, then on Saturday the sun came out. Ipswich battered Arsenal on the day but it finished 1-0. How it was only one, I do not know. I thought we would never score. The sea of blue cheering the team on, Wark, Mariner and Burley all coming close to scoring. Post, bar, all seemed to deny us - then the unlikely hero Roger Osborne scoring and then overcome with heat exhaustion or perhaps just raw emotion. I had, before that, wondered if we would ever score. That day I did not need to drink, the atmosphere from the supporters and the the players provided excitement, intoxication of the moment and then at last the necessary happiness. I was also pleased that the hard work of Sir Bobby and the Club in general had been rewarded at last.

"On the slow coach ride back up Wembley way on the way home, I remember the landlord of our local pub jumping off the coach, taking off a policeman’s helmet and replacing it with his blue and white wig, luckily the policeman was okay with it. We then proceeded to a curry house in North London that had ben pre-booked; they ran out of beer in the first hour and had to re-stock from an off licence. I do not remember the food!

"This is just a snippet of my stories of a normally quiet, refined bank manager, rugby man converted to football in Ipswich, by Ipswich. Memories never to be forgotten.

"Sir Bobby and the players of that era will never be forgotten, I thank you all!

"Since then we have been always hopeful of a revival, briefly touching the Premier League with George Burley at the helm. In recent times, we have not been so fortunate.

"We have, by and large, kept our fanbase. When football returns, let’s hope we return to winning ways.

"In these difficult times, stay safe. Long live the Club and the supporters!

Maurice Ramsay."

Everyone at Ipswich Town Football Club would like to pass on belated birthday wishes to Maurice and thank him for his lengthy and ongoing support. A true Blue.

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