Fuller Flavour: An obscured view at Wimbledon and another must-win home clash with Oxford

17 February, 2020 - 16:30
Karl Fuller missed Town's big win over Burton. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Karl Fuller missed Town's big win over Burton. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Stephen Waller

For the first time in many years, I have missed two consecutive home games, writes Karl Fuller.

James Norwood and Town were disappointing at Wimbledon - not that Karl Fuller could see! Picture: PAGEPIXJames Norwood and Town were disappointing at Wimbledon - not that Karl Fuller could see! Picture: PAGEPIX

After missing the Peterborough game, I was both quite happy and surprised as over the years, when I have missed a home game, we normally win. So, with the trend bucked against Posh, it was back to normal service on Saturday as typically I missed a 4-1 win.

Speaking of missing games however, what did annoy me was last Tuesday night's trip to AFC Wimbledon. I had quite a fraught afternoon with an unexpected family matter that almost saw me miss the trip altogether.

Having made the decision to finally go, there was trouble in the air the moment we tried to enter the visitors' terrace.

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I travelled with five others including my friend's 12-year-old son. We were directed away from the covered section by the stewards and found ourselves on a flat piece of terracing, level with the corner flag. Rather like the lower tier of the North Stand, there is a barrier that separates supporters from the wall to allow a space in between for stewards to walk up and down.

Before kick-off, it was apparent that Wimbledon stewards were struggling to cope with the situation, with so many Town fans in attendance. As it turned out, there were 789 Ipswich supporters present whilst on the preceding Saturday, there were just 88 Fleetwood Town fans there!

Some Ipswich fans had no option but to climb the barrier to fill the space between that and the wall. We realised very quickly what this would mean to us and my friend allowed his son to climb over too so he could take up a position against the wall so he could at least see some of the pitch.

The net result for me - who stands a measly 5ft 8ins tall - was that I could only see the pitch directly in front of me and therefore, I literally could not see any of the two thirds of the pitch that we were attacking.

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In 41 years of watching Town home and away, I'd never experienced anything like this. It was ironic when a friend texted me to say he'd heard that we had hit the crossbar. I could only reply with the fact I'd heard it too but just couldn't see it!

He saw as much in Rugby as I did at the ground! To say it wasn't the best of experiences is an understatement.

Onto this Saturday and we welcome Oxford United for another of those 'must win' home games, that we have plenty of between now and the end of the season.

A home game against Oxford always takes me back to that crunch relegation encounter in the old First Division in April 1986. I was only 15-years-old at the time and still at an age where I only frequented games when my Dad took me. He always had a habit of leaving games early too and this day was no exception.

I vaguely recall us going behind to a John Aldridge goal before two second-half goals within 100 seconds by Jason Dozzell and then Terry Butcher saw us edge ahead.

At the time, it seemed almost probable that the winners of this game would stay up and the losers would be relegated. With the game now level heading towards its climax, my Dad did his usual 'come on, we're leaving now' motion and I left the ground assuming a draw would be the outcome.

Annoyingly, my older brother could stay until the end. We had got back to the car park at the train station when I heard a roar that honestly had me looking up to the sky expecting to see a low-flying aircraft.

My Dad looked at me and said, 'You know what's happened?' And I guessed, Ipswich had scored.

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Sure enough, Ian Atkins scored a 93rd minute winner and my brother eventually returned to the car telling me how he'd been one of hundreds to invade the pitch.

I was gutted, just as I was when the win still could not prevent us from being relegated.

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