Little to celebrate at Portman Road
MORE than 25,000 people gathered at Portman Road for an end of term party – but by the time they left, no one felt like celebrating.The last matches at the season at Portman Road have always had a carnival feel – but this time there was little to celebrate.
By Paul Geater
MORE than 25,000 people gathered at Portman Road for an end of term party – but by the time they left, no one felt like celebrating.
The last matches at the season at Portman Road have always had a carnival feel – but this time there was little to celebrate.
Few fans stayed to show their appreciation to the players at the end of a miserable afternoon: "All that's missing is the DJ playing the Madness hit You're an Embarrassment," one miserable fan said as he trudged out of the ground.
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Even before the match started there was a subdued feel in Portman Road.
Wimbledon's fans deserted them when the club announced plans to move to Milton Keynes – by Friday only 20 tickets had been sold for the away section of the ground.
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In the event there were about 50 Dons' fans in the ground – but they added nothing to the atmosphere.
Things didn't improve in the first half – with both teams apparently going through the motions, the fans were inspired into something approaching total boredom.
The loudest noise came from the polite applause when a pass found its target – but the crowd never really got going even when Town spurned chance after chance.
The first Wimbledon goal did change things rather – as soon as it was scored the atmosphere changed. Fans quickly started getting irritated with the team.
Half time seemed longer than usual – and there was a certain relief when it emerged that Forest and Reading were winning and Town's match was irrelevant.
The second half was a total embarrassment – with the only cheers for Ipswich coming when Darren Bent came on and then when he scored a goal to pull it back to 1-2.
By the end of the match Town fans were cheering the Wimbledon goals – many reckoned it was the biggest cheer they'd heard all season!
What was even more telling was the North Stand faithful singing the praises of departed heroes.
Hermann Hreidarrson was the first to get the treatment – followed by Micky Stockwell, John Wark, and even Chris Kiwomya.
The loudest and most heartfelt cheer was "Walking in a Stewart Wonderland" in honour of the lost goal hero who has spent the last seven months being ignored on Wearside.
And then came the most poignant chant: "There's only one Matty Holland." Few fans expect to be seeing him in a Powergen shirt come August.
Many of the crowd left well before the end. The directors will have been especially unhappy at the end of a bad days work.
Over the next few days season ticket holders will be getting letters asking them to renew for next year.
As they open them the most recent memory of the club will be Saturday's misery. How will they feel about writing out cheques for hundreds of pounds to the club?
See page 15 for a cash warning to season ticket buyers.