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Ipswich Town’s greatest games: Blues win First Division title in 1962

The most unlikely league champions? Almost certainly. This was the line-up which won the Division One title, against all the odds, in 1961-1962. Pictures: DAVE KINDRED

The most unlikely league champions? Almost certainly. This was the line-up which won the Division One title, against all the odds, in 1961-1962. Pictures: DAVE KINDRED

Dave Kindred

In today’s look back at Ipswich Town’s greatest games, we relive the extraordinary day in 1962 that the Blues shocked the footballing world by winning the First Division title.

Action from the crucial, championship-deciding game against Aston Villa at Portman Road in May 1962. Here, a shot from Ted Phillips goes just wide much to the relief of Villa keeper Sims. Ray Crawford is in close attendance. Picture: DAVE KINDRED Action from the crucial, championship-deciding game against Aston Villa at Portman Road in May 1962. Here, a shot from Ted Phillips goes just wide much to the relief of Villa keeper Sims. Ray Crawford is in close attendance. Picture: DAVE KINDRED

Ipswich Town 2 Aston Villa 0,

The ball is on its way to the back of the net, thanks to Ray Crawford's diving header after John Elsworthy had hit the bar. The ball is on its way to the back of the net, thanks to Ray Crawford's diving header after John Elsworthy had hit the bar.

April 28, 1962

The triumphant Town team arrives on the Cornhill in Ipswich in the traditional open-top bus to be greeted by thousands of adoring fans. Picture: DAVE KINDRED The triumphant Town team arrives on the Cornhill in Ipswich in the traditional open-top bus to be greeted by thousands of adoring fans. Picture: DAVE KINDRED

Ipswich Town skipper Andy Nelson holds the First Division Championship trophy aloft on the Cornhill after their win over Aston Villa in 1962 Ipswich Town skipper Andy Nelson holds the First Division Championship trophy aloft on the Cornhill after their win over Aston Villa in 1962

Surely the most extraordinary day in the illustrious history of Ipswich Town Football Club.

Andy Nelson doesn't look especially comfortable as he is hoisted skyward by John Elsworthy and Roy Bailey during the 1962 championship celebrations. Picture: DAVE KINDRED Andy Nelson doesn't look especially comfortable as he is hoisted skyward by John Elsworthy and Roy Bailey during the 1962 championship celebrations. Picture: DAVE KINDRED

Alf Ramsey’s collection of has-beens and cast-offs had shocked the football world a year earlier when they were promoted to the First Division. They were universally written off as relegation certainties.

But, as the season went by, incredibly Town found themselves in the race for the title, alongside mighty Spurs and Burnley.

Prolific strikers Ray Crawford and Ted Phillips were banging in goals left, right, and centre, supplied by Ramsey’s deep-lying wingers, Jimmy Leadbetter and Roy “Rocky” Stephenson.

It was a revolutionary tactic which flummoxed First Division defences and, four years later, would see England to World cup glory.

On the final Saturday of the season, in front of nearly 29,000 fans, Town knew they must win against visitors Aston Villa.

The first half was frustrating, but in the 72nd minute a diving header from Crawford brought the breakthrough. Four minutes later, Crawford struck again.

Town had done their bit, and a few minutes after the final whistle came the news that Burnley had only drawn.

Ipswich were First Division champions – arguably the greatest-ever achievement in English football.

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