This was the season that Ipswich Town fans’ apathy was finally blown away
PUBLISHED: 12:32 04 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:32 04 June 2015
Copyright Ashley Pickering
This was the season that any lingering apathy among Ipswich Town fans was finally blown away.
So says Blues managing director Ian Milne, who uses the attendance statistics from 2014/15 to prove the point.
The average league attendance at Portman Road was 25,651 in 2004/05 but thereafter that number dwindled steadily, hitting 16,654 in 2013/14.
That told you everything you needed to know about the way Blues fans felt about their club during the false dawns and disappointments of the Jim Magilton, Roy Keane and Paul Jewell eras.
Mick McCarthy’s quiet revolution understandably took time to win back hearts and minds, but a sixth-place finish with 78 points – the club’s best campaign in a decade – seems to have done the trick.
With Town’s average home league attendance going up for the first time since that third-place finish under Joe Royle, to 19,602, Milne said: “The interesting thing is that our attendances didn’t really start to rise until the beginning of November.
“I recall the article that you wrote around that time which was ‘start believing’ and all the rest of it.
“I think it was at that point (following back-to-back home wins over Wolves and Watford) when people did finally start to believe and they began turning up again.”
The pain of a play-off semi-final defeat to arch-rivals Norwich City was raw and the images of jubilant Canaries celebrating on the pitch at Carrow Road will live long in the memory, but those emotions were quickly replaced by a sense of pride at the campaign which has just passed and feeling of hope and optimism looking forwards.
Master man-manager McCarthy has overseen two-and-a-half years of steady progress and has been quick to point out that his previous play-off disappointments at Sunderland and Wolves were quickly followed by a Championship title.
“Just because of who beat us in the play-offs, nothing can undermine where we have got to and where we are at,” said Milne.
“Of course when we lost the second leg against Norwich everyone was a bit down, but we came back in and the phones were ringing for season tickets, the response on social media was great, the newspapers were supportive and we felt much better. It really was the fans who quickly picked us all up.
“In a perverse sort of way the manner in which the season ended has given us a lift. From the regret of the play-offs we have drawn strength for next season.
“I think the big positive out of this is that it’s shown how good we are. I think the fans recognise that this club is in a different place now and that we’ve achieved that together; Mick, the players, the fans, the whole community.
“I think the apathy that had grown among supporters over so many years has gone now. This will be the season that we will look back on as being the catalyst for that.
“It has been a near three year progress. It started slowly, both on and off the field, and in November time it really began to gather pace.
“In my mind that momentum is still going on. I just think we are heading in the right direction.”