Fan's reward for life-long love
PASSIONATE Ipswich Town fan Jamie Beddard will today be rewarded for his 20-year-plus stint of singing the blues.The 35-year-old will be presented with a national prize, The Barclaycard Fan of the Month award, on the pitch prior to today's game.
PASSIONATE Ipswich Town fan Jamie Beddard will today be rewarded for his 20-year-plus stint of singing the blues.
The 35-year-old will be presented with a national prize, The Barclaycard Fan of the Month award, on the pitch prior to today's game.
It is presented once a month to a fan in England who has shown incredible commitment to the cause.
Mr Beddard, who suffers from cerebral palsy, certainly fits the bill having missed just a handful of games in the last 15 years.
Speaking from his home in Islington, London, he recalled how his love affair with Ipswich first started.
He said: "Being brought up in Islington I was under severe Arsenal pressure, but always had a leaning towards Ipswich. This combined allegiance was bought to a head by the 1978 Cup Final.
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"When my Dad asked me, at 2.59pm, who I wanted to win I uttered the life-changing words, 'The Town'.
"The rest is history and my bank balance – trains, planes and automobiles, and incidence of glory, Second Division mediocrity, Full Member's Cup and relegation battles – have suffered accordingly."
Ever since that memorable day Mr Beddard has followed the Blues across the country, and more recently Europe. He said the highlight of his time as a fan is the play-off final victory at Wembley over Barnsley to secure a return to the Premiership.
Suffering from cerebral palsy means travelling to games can sometimes be more difficult for the ardent Town fan.
He said: "Obviously physically it's harder – my mobility is limited and walking any distance is a great effort. Sometimes I use a manual wheelchair when I find a suitable mug to push me. Seriously, my friends are accommodating but normally I just get on with it.
"I have never known any different so, to me, it's no big deal."
He added that collecting the award on the pitch would be "pretty special" and that winning it "makes justifying my obsession to my long suffering girlfriend a tad easier!"
The Barclaycard Fan of the Month is a new award introduced as part of the sponsorship of the Premiership.
Nic Gault, sponsorship director, said: "Jamie typifies the sort of dedication shown by many fans in the Barclaycard Premiership. This award is all about recognising the loyalty, passion and commitment fans show to their clubs."
Among the spectators watching Mr Beddard's moment of glory will be a group of American fans who have travelled across the Atlantic to watch today's game.
A total of ten members of the North American Ipswich Town supporters' club have jetted over for a whistle stop visit, including watching today's game and a tour of the ground.
After the tour at Portman Road yesterday the fans had the chance to meet and fire a host of questions at Town chairman, David Sheepshanks.
Mr Sheepshanks, who even sported a USA Tour T-shirt for his visitors, said: "It's fantastic that they have travelled over and it just shows how international the support is for this football club.
"It is important for me to make time to speak to them and hopefully a win against Southampton will be the crowning moment of their visit."
Mick Scrivener, San Diego-based chairman of the supporters' club, said: "It's fantastic for everyone. A lot of the guys are in England for the first time so to come to the ground and meet the chairman is really special."
n Help choose Town's new away strip, see Page 45
www.itfc.co.uk – Ipswich Town's official website.
www.portmanroad.com – home of the North American supporters club.
www.4thegame.com – Official Barclaycard Premiership website.