UEFA Cup stars celebrate in style

PUBLISHED: 08:39 31 May 2011 | UPDATED: 09:13 31 May 2011

Ipswich Town's UEFA Cup winning stars of 1981 at last night's dinner.  Picture: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town's UEFA Cup winning stars of 1981 at last night's dinner. Picture: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller.com

Stephen Waller

THE Ipswich Corn Exchange was awash with star players of yesteryear last night, as Ipswich Town’s UEFA Cup success of 30 years ago was remembered and celebrated in style.

THE Ipswich Corn Exchange was awash with star players of yesteryear last night, as Ipswich Town’s UEFA Cup success of 30 years ago was remembered and celebrated in style.

Mick Mills, Town’s triumphant skipper from that glorious UEFA Cup campaign of 1980-81, walked in with the trophy at the start of the evening, before the gala dinner.

The bulk of the squad were in attendance at this “UEFA 30” event, including keeper Paul Cooper, defenders Mills, George Burley, Russell Osman, Steve McCall and Kevin Beattie, midfielders Frans Thijssen, John Wark and Eric Gates, and strikers Paul Mariner and Alan Brazil.

Organised by the Evening Star, Ipswich Borough Council and Ipswich Town FC, the evening was hosted by Gerry Harrison, who covered Town’s European adventures of the 1970s and ‘80s for Anglia TV.

Harrison enthused: “The players were playing at the highest level, but they were all so approachable. It was a privilege to watch them and work with them.”

Former skipper Mills joked, while holding onto the giant and rather cumbersome trophy: “It has to be the worst designed trophy of all time!

“I remember the (two-legged) final against AZ 67 Alkmaar very well. It was the end to a fantastic season.

“Having beaten St Etienne away in the quarter-finals, everyone in the country became serious that we might even manage to win the treble.

“Yet we so nearly missed out on everything,” added Mills.

Current Chief Executive, Simon Clegg, spoke on behalf of the current staff, while owner and chairman Marcus Evans was also in attendance, although he did not wish to be identified.

“The club is incredibly proud of the rich heritage it enjoys, and I’m delighted that so many players from that team are here tonight,” said Clegg.

“Thank you for what you did. You gave us the history and heritage that we are so proud of.”

Current manager Paul Jewell could not make the event, as Clegg confirmed: “Paul has just returned from holiday and could not come down because he has been engaged in club business.”

Town’s coach from 30 years ago, Bobby Ferguson, was also present, as were members of staff from that era still involved with the club, including vice-president and former club secretary David Rose, and former manager’s secretary Pat Godbold.

The Major of Ipswich, John Le Grys, also addressed the audience, and later in the evening there was an entertaining players’ question-and-answer routine, and an auction of memorabilia.

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