Fans celebrate Euro return with pride

LUXEMBOURG City belonged to Ipswich Town fans as the blue and white European army went on the march again in support of George Burley's team.Relegation may have hit hard in May, but the memories of last season's European crusade that took the team and supporters to Russia, Sweden and Italy lived on in Luxembourg yesterday.

IPSWICH Town fans are today being hailed as wonderful ambassadors for the country after the Tractor Boys' triumph in Europe.

Luxembourg City's leading newspaper Luxemburger Wort carried a front page story today praising Town fans for their behaviour during the club's successful European excursion.

Yesterday Luxembourg belonged to Ipswich as the blue and white army went on the march again in support of George Burley's team.

Relegation may have hit hard in May, but the memories of last season's European crusade that took the team and supporters to Russia, Sweden and Italy lived on yesterday.

Fans arrived by air, sea and car and on a sweltering hot day they paraded around Luxembourg, mixed with the locals and enjoying the food and drink in the cafes and bars.

The town centre market square was the focal point for much of the fan activity and there was much excitement when Town chairman David Sheepshanks arrived to speak to many of them.

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Sheepshanks, wearing shorts, was mobbed by a great crowd and he spoke to them and slapped them on the back.

They in turn showed their affection for the head of the Portman Road board.

But, when the chants began to go up of "Don't sell off our team", Sheepshanks decided it was time to make his way out of the square in his usual jovial, good-natured and diplomatic manner.

Some Town fans were sporting "Turban Hreidarsson" headware as they chanted the name of the popular Icelander in the market square.

Blues supporters were a credit to themselves and the club around the streets of Luxembourg.

A party of older fans, all aged between 50 and 60, said they were trying to find the offices of the legendary Radio Luxembourg studios that used to pump pop music around Europe in the late 1950s and 60s.

A popular figure among the Ipswich fans was Mick Mills, the ex-Blues and England captain, who led the team when they won the FA Cup in 1978 and the Uefa Cup in 1981. Mills was heralded by fans everywhere.

They chanted "There's only one Mick Mills," and bowed down towards him in homage to arguably the greatest professional footballer in the history of the Suffolk club.

Mills, now on the sports staff of The Evening Star, said: "This takes me back to my days in Europe as captain of the team. I remember as a young player we played against Real Madrid and Barcelona and teams like that.

"Our support then was good, but the way the fans get behind Ipswich now is absolutely fantastic. The club must be doing something right."

Before the match Mills walked on the pitch at the Josey Barthel Stadium in the warm evening sunshine to chat with many of the players of Avenir Beggen.

Ipswich fan David Catchpole summed up the occasion in Luxembourg yesterday. "It was fantastic," he said.

Town may have been relegated ,but the European bug still bites hard. It is wonderful visiting these countries.

It is not just about football, it is about enjoying life and it was wonderful to see so many Ipswich fans behind the team in Luxembourg.

Another fan, Barry Kent, said: "Everybody was well behaved and a credit to the club.

"Ipswich Town have a great reputation both at home and abroad for their fans' support and behaviour. I hope it continues right until the end of the season and that the team can go even further in the Uefa Cup than they did last season.

Big match analysis – pages 44-47

Opinion page 6

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