Carl Marston’s Travels with Town: my top-five long and despairing trips
PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:09 24 September 2020
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Football writer Carl Marston has visited 124 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he lists his top five most despairng long trips
In the current era, where supporters are not allowed in football stadia across the Premier league, Football League and National League, the only saving grace is that there is no danger of loyal away fans suffering those long-fruitless journeys home after a dispiriting afternoon or evening watching their side humbled on the road.
Goodness knows when away supporters will be allowed back into the homes of professional football clubs.
Still, as a way to soften the blow, you can always list the number of times you have ‘endured’ on a long away-day, witnessing awful performances on the pitch and then facing the prospect of many hours on the motorways and byways of England.
Of course fans would rather experience that misery, than the current misery of no first-hand live football at all.
But here’s my top five ‘longest and most fruitless journeys’ while following Ipswich Town over the years.
1 Home Park, Plymouth Argyle
Distance: 306 miles.
Result: 1-1 draw on October 24, 2009
One of the longest journeys you can face from Suffolk, in the Football League, it’s a big ask to travel to the Devon coast and back in one day, especially on the end of a drab performance and drab result.
‘How does this get into your top five, when Ipswich didn’t even lose?’ – I hear you ask.
Well, that’s a fair point, but it was the nature of the 1-1 draw that put the finishing touches to another disappointing day under Roy Keane’s watch.
A total of 784 Town fans made the trip, 11 years ago, to experience the latest chapter in Town’s search for a first win of the season.
They failed, for the 14th game in succession, to therefore prop up the Championship table with hosts Plymouth just one place above them. But even the struggling Pilgrims had won two matches.
At least super sub Jon Stead rescued a point with a 68th minute equaliser. Plymouth were reduced to 10 men by Darcy Blake’s red card for a two-footed lunge on Alan Quinn on 84 minutes, but no winner was forthcoming.
2 Bloomfield Road, Blackpool
Distance: 272 miles
Result: 6-0 defeat on August 25, 2012
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I have seen far too many away defeats at Blackpool, for my liking, but I guess the worst of the lot was an absolute drubbing in the Championship at the start of the 2012-13 campaign.
Town boss Paul Jewell confessed: “It feels as bad as a 6-0 defeat can get. For the first 44 minutes we were very good and I certainly didn’t see that coming at that point.”
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It was Town’s heaviest defeat since a 7-1 thrashing at Peterborough from the previous August, although that doesn’t make this top five because it’s only 92 miles between Portman Road and London Road, so is hardly ‘long and fruitless.’
An Aaron Cresswell own goal and a Gary Taylor-Fletcher effort put Blackpool 2-0 up by half-time. Tom Ince then bagged a brace before Craig Cathcart and Nouha Dicko completed the rout.
3 Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Distance 279 miles
Result: 1-0 defeat on January 13, 2007
It was a long way to trundle up the A1 to watch an away defeat, although this one gets into the top five because it was so very frustrating – Town should really have got some reward.
Boss Jim Magilton confirmed: “I thought we should have had something. When you come here you know you’ll get a pounding, but I thought we battered them second half.”
As it was, this Championship duel was settled by a 15th minute winner from debutant Anthony Stokes. These days, both clubs are now stuck in the third tier.
4 Brunton Park, Carlisle United
Distance: 311 miles
Result: 2-1 defeat on August 28, 2012.
Town have visited this far-flung corner of Cumbria five times, and have lost on every occasion. The last was a low-key League Cup first round tie, just a few days after the aforementioned 6-0 drubbing at Blackpool.
To make matters worse, we had to endure extra-time after Mark Beck had headed home a 90th minute equaliser for Carlisle. David Symington then netted an extra-time winner.
5 Liberty Stadium, Swansea City
Distance: 279 miles
Result: 4-1 defeat on April 21, 2011
Stuck in mid-table after another season of under-achievement, Town’s misery was in stark contrast to buoyant Swansea, who guaranteed their Championship play-off place helped by a brace from Fabio Borini.