‘Without a doubt, the best day of my life’ - Town fans remember Wembley glory

PUBLISHED: 13:30 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:10 29 May 2020

Stuart Goldsmith, left, with brother Neal outside the old Wembley Stadium before Ipswich Town's play-off fonal win over Barnsley on May 29, 2000. Picture: STUART GOLDSMITH

Stuart Goldsmith, left, with brother Neal outside the old Wembley Stadium before Ipswich Town's play-off fonal win over Barnsley on May 29, 2000. Picture: STUART GOLDSMITH

Archant

On the 20th anniversary of Ipswich Town’s famous win over Barnsley which propelled them to the Premier League, fan and writer Amy Downes shares her memories of the day and those of fellow supporters...

Monday 29th May 2000 was, without a doubt, the best day of my life.

Hearing Ipswich Town legends recall the magnificent events of the day has made me nostalgic, and I wondered what memories our fans might have to share?

So, I asked Blues fans on social media to share their favourite memories from the trip to Wembley 20 years ago:

Stuart Goldsmith's pictures from inside the ground on play-off final day Picture: STUART GOLDSMITHStuart Goldsmith's pictures from inside the ground on play-off final day Picture: STUART GOLDSMITH

Travelling there

As season-ticket-holders who lived in Cambridge, my Dad, middle sister and I travelled to London via the A11 and it wasn’t until we almost reached the M11 that we started to notice fellow fans on the road.

Kevin Higham left his home in Leicestershire at 4 am to drive to Portman Road. He recalled: “Me, my Dad and my Grandad travelled down to Wembley with the Town fans and when we got there saw a sea of blue and red on Wembley Way.”

Colin Love enjoyed the journey down by coach: “The A12 was full of cars with scarves and flags hanging out of the windows, and then on the return trip people stood on the bridges waving at all the fans travelling home.”

Ipswich Town fans outside Wembley before the play-off final win over Barnsley on May 29, 2000. Picture: STUART GOLDSMITHIpswich Town fans outside Wembley before the play-off final win over Barnsley on May 29, 2000. Picture: STUART GOLDSMITH

While professional darts player and fellow Ipswich fan Kevin Painter almost didn’t make the game: “On the weekend of the play-off final, I was at a competition in North Wales. Somewhere along the M6, I had a blow-out!

“I managed to get to my friends in Cambridgeshire to switch cars. Things could have been much worse!’

Many of our fans travelled huge distances to be there, like Andrew Tilly: “This is the only game I’ve ever been to. I flew over from New Zealand just to see it and back home again four days later. I was in heaven all day!”

And others watched it from home, like Frankie: “I was only 11. I remember running round the garden in celebration afterwards and getting told off for being too loud!”

MORE:‘I dream of this happening again for Ipswich Town’ - chairman, manager and captain remember Wembley 2000

Arriving at Wembley

Ipswich Town fans inside Wembley for the play-off final win over Barnsley on May 29, 2000. Picture: STUART GOLDSMITHIpswich Town fans inside Wembley for the play-off final win over Barnsley on May 29, 2000. Picture: STUART GOLDSMITH

Once we reached the stadium, we joined Wembley Way and I was blown away by the hubbub of cheerful chanting surrounding me.

Gareth Cook recalls playing football in the car park against Barnsley fans, while Laura Bilner tells me her 9-year-old-self greeted Barnsley supporters with a shout of ‘Blue Army’!

A few fans recall the strange weather just before kick-off, something I had completely forgotten: “Krissy Day says: ‘I remember pre-kick off, it absolutely fell down with rain. I was thinking maybe the game wouldn’t go ahead.’

“But then the clouds parted and Wembley was bathed in sunshine.”

MORE: Watch the dramatic highlights as Ipswich Town beat Barnsley at Wembley - 20 years ago today

Good memories of a great game

I won’t relive the game in detail here, but there were stand-out moments, like when we went a goal behind. Peter Abbott says: “I remember going 1-0 down, turning to my wife and saying, ‘not a problem we can win this.’ The day just felt like it was ours.”

And the goal from Marcus Stewart: “His header was great because we were singing, ‘are you watching Norwich’, just as the ball was played down the left side of the pitch in front of us.”

But I dare say there’s one moment that every single Town fan treasures the most.

Remember when Manchester City secured the Premier League title in 2012? Well, Reuser scoring the fourth goal against Barnsley was our ‘Agueeeeeeeeeerrooooo moment’.

It’s my Dad’s favourite moment too, he describes the reaction from the crowd as ‘an explosion of joy.’

Christopher Overett told me: “It put an end to the agony of the final 11 mins of the game, thinking every time they got near our goal they’d equalise.”

Kev Sherwood added: “All I could do was sink into my seat out of shear relief and exhaustion, with tears running down my cheeks because we’d finally done it, after years of hurt.”

Daniel Blowers recalls “George Burley and Dale Roberts celebrating on the touchline when Bam- Bam put Reuser in and he finished it.”

While Nic Wright remembers: “The top tier of the stand bouncing as we jumped up and down each time we celebrated our goals!”

MORE: Four strikers, 52 goals, two painful injuries and one Wembley win - the tale of Burley’s four Town marksmen

Celebrations

Jack Saunders had a great view of the trophies and medals being presented. He said: “Our seats were right next to the steps and I got to high-five every single player as they went past.

“I also got to throw my scarf to Matt Holland, which is one of the three he’s wearing in all the photographs!”

In his recent interview with podcast Blue Monday, skipper Matt Holland talks about the journey home with the players and how he couldn’t wait to watch the game back with his Dad.

And there was a warm welcome waiting for the returning fans too. My Mum, who usually doesn’t even know the result of a game until a few days later, greeted us at the door wearing an Ipswich shirt - she’d never worn one before and never has since!

Jack Todd recalls: “One of THE most memorable things was seeing the fans who hadn’t managed to go standing on bridges and at the sides of the road waving flags and scarves. Absolutely electrifying!”

And finally, a random memory from ‘Super Frans’ which I had to include: “Going into the urinal after the game to find myself standing next to Roger Osborne. God’s honest truth. Surreal moment.”

- What are your memories? Let us know below! If you want to write about Town for Your Posts, e-mail mark.heath@archant.co.uk for more information.

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