Day of reckoning

HAMMER time has finally arrived - and thousands of Ipswich Town fans were today set to roar their boys on to victory.Anticipation was suddenly transformed into nervous energy as the 12.

HAMMER time has finally arrived - and thousands of Ipswich Town fans were today set to roar their boys on to victory.

Anticipation was suddenly transformed into nervous energy as the 12.15pm kick-off in Tractor Boy's play-off semi-final first leg clash with West Ham approached.

Coachloads of Town fans converged on London's East End for the showdown.

Just three games lie between Town and the promised land of the Premiership.

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Seasoned fans were joined by many converts who were caught up in the buzz of playoffs fever this week to converge on the club's Planet Blue shops to snap up tickets and town kit.

Today's release of Town's new home kit led to the club planning to open the Planet Blue shop at Portman Road early so that fans heading to West Ham could wear the shirts at today's game.

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Adam Clouting, senior sales assistant, at Planet Blue in Ipswich's Buttermarket said: "It's been mad with people coming in buying tickets.

"It's buzzing. Everyone who is anyone wants to be a part of it now.

"Everybody in the club is just mucking in. Everyone in the ticket office has been working from 8am till 8.30pm."

And Mr Clouting said the feeling among fans was that Town was on the road to victory.

He said: "The majority of the fans are very optimistic that we're going to go up. It's going to be mad if we get to Cardiff."

The Evening Star got up extra early today to decorate as many bridges as possible along the A12 with 'Come on You Blues' banners to cheer on the hordes of fans who are driving down to West Ham this morning.

Star editor Nigel Pickover said: "Everyone in Ipswich seems to be doing their bit to cheer on the Blues this weekend and we're delighted to get involved in any way we can.

"And if we can cheer on the many fans driving down to West Ham and put a smile on their faces while they're driving even better.

"The Evening Star's season-long Back to the Top campaign goes from strength to strength."

After today's game it is back to Portman Road for the decisive second leg, on Wednesday, for what is sure to be an emotion-charged evening of football.

Thousands of Blues fans from across the country and beyond will be hoping it turns out to be a night to remember.


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