Just the ticket for referee

WHEN referee Graham Simons was given the news that he had won a pair of tickets for Ipswich Town's first UEFA Cup match of the season, there was only one person he thought of taking.

By Jo Macdonald

WHEN referee Graham Simons was given the news that he had won a pair of tickets for Ipswich Town's first UEFA Cup match of the season, there was only one person he thought of taking.

While many men would turn to brothers, sons or male friends, Mr Simons knew this would be a perfect chance to not only watch his favourite team start their campaign back on the European stage but also an opportunity to take his wife away.

And so on Thursday he and his other half, Sandra, will be jetting out to Luxembourg to join as many as 2,000 like-minded Blues fans as Town take on FC Avenir Beggen in the first round of the competition.


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Mr Simons, of Highfield Drive, Claydon, said: "I'll be taking my wife who is also an Ipswich fan. It'll be nice to get away on our own.

"We've lived here for about 17 years and when we moved we took a bit of interest in the team, especially as our sons, who are 17 and 20 now, grew up with the club."

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Mr Simons, 45, was picked from hundreds of entries to an Evening Star/TXU Energi competition as the lucky winner of a pair of tickets to Thursday's match, including flights, transfers and accommodation for a night.

The news came as a pleasant surprise and he and his wife are now looking forward to getting away to see Town play as well as seeing a country which is not renowned as a British holiday destination.

Mr Simons, who referees for the Suffolk and Ipswich league, said: "Who goes to Luxembourg? It's not a tourist hotspot.

"We've tried to find maps and tourist information but it's difficult to find anything. We've found some basic details but I think it'll be more a case of turning up and seeing what there is."

And he is hopeful that Town will be victorious against FC Avenir Beggen come Thursday and give the team and their fans the boost needed after the disappointing end to last season.

"I think everyone was disappointed," Mr Simons said of Town's relegation. "We were all hoping beyond hope that we could just about hang on but the spectre of relegation was there even at Christmas time.

"There was a bit of worry about the European campaign last season as well. Although it was wonderful to be there, it really took a lot out of the club early on."

"It's got to be a good thing that we're back in Europe this season though," he continued. "I just hope that it doesn't run the same way as last year."

Of the competition Mr Simons won, Evening Star brand manager Austen Dack said: "This is our first big competition with TXU Energi and we've had lots of entries.

"It's fantastic to be able to give a trip away to Town's first European away game (and hopefully not the last)."

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