Me and My Club
with kes hawkins
ITT Writer and Town fan Kes Hawkins discusses his favourite Town player, piece of memorabilia and more.
How did you became a Town fan?
Ipswich Town has been a part of my life for about as far back as my memory goes. As a kid, my mum worked in marketing for the company that sponsored Town so had some close involvement with the club and I also looked up to my older brother who had been Town-mad from an early age himself.
Saturday afternoons growing up in my household were centred around Ipswich Town and that was just that.
First Town game. Year/team/score/ground?
I’m pretty sure my first game was a home game against Watford in 1995. I was three years old, Town won 4-2 and I have vague memories of bursting into tears every time the fans made any noise!
I think it was April 1998 before I went back and watched a 5-1 win against Port Vale. By the end of that, I’d caught the bug and started pestering my parents to take me at every possible opportunity.
Favourite Town player of all time and why?
Going to have to say David Johnson. I just remember my first couple of seasons of regularly watching Town he was the definition of the ‘fox in the box’ type striker. He banged them in for fun and really played the game with a smile on his face.
Marcus Stewart is rightly valorised for his Wembley exploits and then the following season in the premier league, but it’s worth remembering how vital Johnno’s goals were in maintaining Town’s push for promotion throughout the 1999/00 season.
Favourite Town goal ever and why?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Martijn Reuser hitting the roof of the net from 18 yards out to make it 4-2 Town in the play-off final, Wembley 2000. The moment the ball left his foot, you just knew it was in, and we were up. I still get shivers down my spine watching it back today.
Best Ipswich Town captain of all time and why?
Matty Holland by a long way. As a player he had vision, a great range of passing and chipped in with a variety of goals at crucial times – but most importantly he led by example and acted as a decent professional and a gentleman on and off the pitch. His trademark lap of honour to show appreciation for the fans after every home game was a touch of class as well.
Who is your favourite Town manager and why?
I would have to say George Burley due to the success we endured under him as well as his obvious passion for the club.
I have a lot of time for Joe Royle, though - a good-hearted character that did a commendable job with a tiny squad and hardly any money. Some of the best attacking football I’ve seen Town play was during the Royle era, it’s a real shame he just missed out on taking us up in 2005.
Worst moment as a Town Fan?
The 5-1 thrashing by Norwich at Portman Road in 2011 stands out above all. I had left it late buying a ticket and ending up sitting a restricted view seat, away from all my mates. I stood alone watching that absolute capitulation by the 11 players on the field that night. Norwich completely played us off the park and it was the most toxic atmosphere I’d felt inside Portman Road.
That, for me, was the night that epitomised Paul Jewell’s tenure at Town. Spineless, shambolic and humiliating.
Favourite piece of Town memorabilia is?
I still have the matchday programme from the day I was a mascot in 2001, which has a small section with my picture and profile in it. It was a premier league home game against Leicester and we won 2-0 I believe – Richard Wright’s clean sheet being ruined only by the superbly executed penalty I slipped to his left-hand side in front of the North Stand during the pre-match warm-up.
Greatest Town game you have watched & why?
It simply has to be the 5-3 victory in the play-off semi-final at Portman Road against Bolton in 2000. It had everything – three penalties, two red cards, eight goals and a last minute equaliser to complete Jim Magilton’s hat-trick before we sealed it with two goals in extra time.
I was seven years old and had never experienced an atmosphere like it; people sat in the row next to me and behind were just embracing me and jumping up and down. It was made so much sweeter by the memories of missing out on away goals to Bolton the year before.
Most memorable Town moment as a fan of Ipswich and why?
I’m going to say everything before and after the play-off final at Wembley 2000.
As a seven year old walking up to the famous twin towers, seeing the flags and scarves everywhere and being amongst the atmosphere was unreal. All of my family and family friends went to the game together – me, my brother and his friends all had blue and white painted faces, blue wigs, the lot. I remember looking out over the stadium and it was a sea of colour split; 50/50 Ipswich blue and Barnsley red. I had never felt such anticipation.
What brings back the fondest memories is being immersed in the sheer glory after the game. From walking back down Wembley way singing Town songs to arriving back in Ipswich and seeing fans partying in the street and dancing arm in arm on St. Matthew’s roundabout, it was truly incredible.
I was even allowed to stay up late with my brother and his friends who convinced my Dad to take us on a drive around Town. We beeped the horn at every Town fan we saw that were still lining the streets, pouring out of the pubs and enjoying the celebrations. Looking back I think to myself that it’s times like those that are exactly what supporting your hometown club all is about: A sense of community and shared pride.