Game over for Tractor Boy?

IN today's image-obsessed world, is Tractor Boy still the right mascot to be cheering on Ipswich Town, or does he portray our area as backwards and basic?Critic of the eight-foot talisman Ken Biggs and columnist Matthew Tacket give their views on whether Tractor boy is ploughing the right furrow for the town.

IN today's image-obsessed world, is Tractor Boy still the right mascot to be cheering on Ipswich Town, or does he portray our area as backwards and basic?

Critic of the eight-foot talisman Ken Biggs and columnist Matthew Tacket give their views on whether Tractor boy is ploughing the right furrow for the town.

DELIGHTED by last month's derby victory against Norwich, Ken Biggs's joy was only stifled by his disdain to see the team mascot celebrating.

Star reader Ken, a lifelong town fan, said the 3-1 win was almost as exciting as the day Ipswich won the FA Cup. Yet despite his elation, he has issued a call for Tractor Boy's boots to be hung up once and for all.

He said his joy in victory was soured by photos of Tractor Boy in The Evening Star which “overshadowed” the smiles of happy supporters.

“I just don't like the whole image,” said the 73-year-old of Nelson Road, Ipswich.

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Today we give him the change to argue his case - against the Star's very own Matthew Tacket.

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What's your opinion? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Why I hate Tractor Boy, by Star reader Ken Biggs

”The old yokel type image that seems a bit derogatory to me, to the people of Ipswich and people who drive tractors themselves.

It also gives people in the country who write on football the opportunity to 'have a go' at the image of the football club. I remember reading a headline once which said the Middlesbrough Maseratis beat the Ipswich tractors.”

Mr Biggs said he is not against mascots in general but would rather have one that does not have negative connotations attached. “I wonder how many long-standing supporters cringe at the sight of the image set up to represent the team, known to us as the Super Blues,” he said.

“We have seen the club top the tables in the lower divisions and when led by Alf Ramsey become Division One champions at the first attempt, a unique achievement which in all probability will never be repeated.

“We have watched them run rings around the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea and cheered them on when they won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup under Bobby Robson.

“The nickname Tractor Boys, and the effigy, is an insult to the club and all the players who have played for Ipswich Town Football Club over the years.

“I wonder how many would like to take that Tractor Boy to Portman Road - not to the ground which has been graced by many famous footballers over the years, but to a skip at the refuse site a few yards away.

Mr Biggs is not alone in wishing to see the back of Tractor Boy.

Back in 2000 the Ipswich Partnership expressed concern about fans singing about the Tractor Boys as the group aims to promote Ipswich as a centre of high-tech business.

The case for Tractor Boy- by Matthew Tacket.

WHEN it comes to football mascots few are as recognisable as our very own Tractor Boy.

Since he came on to the scene he has helped cheer Ipswich Town on to great heights in the Premiership and gave rousing support in the 2001 UEFA Cup campaign.

And the self-deprecating chant of “1-0 (or 2-1, 3-1 etc.) to the Tractor Boys” has become synonymous with the Portman Road ground.

True, if you take a cynical view of Tractor Boy's image, with his out-of-fashion hat and ear of corn hanging from his mouth, you could argue he represents a potentially negative caricature of East Anglian stereotypes.

But to say that his appearance and terrace chants denigrate the status of Ipswich is surely a step too far.

It's akin to taking the view that Luton remains a primarily hat-making town because of their nickname The Hatters or that The Red Devils of Manchester United regularly partake in satanic rituals.

And even if Tractor Boy does conjure images of a backward town how many people with half a brain are really going to believe that to be the case?

Besides Tractor Boy is nowhere near as controversial a talisman as other mascots.

Take Wolfie, the mascot of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolfie used to rally the crowds with playful kick-arounds with the opposing mascots before his team took to the pitch.

That was until the arrival of Bristol City's Three Little Pigs when, in front of a television audience of millions, Wolfie lost his cool in the pre-match contest and ended up battling all three pigs in a pitch-side punch-up.

Needless to say, he never worked in Wolverhampton again.

Elsewhere in the country Hartlepool United's H'Angus the Monkey is a reference to a story from Napoleonic times when residents of the town are said to have hung a Monkey that had been washed up on shore. It is said they believed the animal to be a French spy. The mascot became such a star that it was remarkably elected town mayor in 2002 with a manifesto pledge of free bananas for all children.

People in Hartlepool are clearly not lacking a sense of humour.

Will we get to a stage when the people of Ipswich do?

I certainly hope not. After all it's just a bit of fun.

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