'Truly brilliant' football fan Penny receives ITFC themed send-off

Penny Clark, who died aged 61, eating an ice cream sundae

Penny Clark was the 'life and soul of the party', according to her sister Sheila - Credit: Family of Penny Clark

The family of a much-loved Ipswich Town fan has thanked staff at Portman Road for braving the elements to pay their respects as she took one last journey past the home of her beloved football team. 

Penny Clark, 61, from Ipswich, died at the end of December 2021. 

Her sister, Sheila, said that it had been a tough start to the year without her sister, who had Down's Syndrome, but that the family took comfort in the fact that she was now "at peace". 

Penny Clark as a youngster, meeting John Wark

Penny Clark was a huge Ipswich Town fan, pictured here meeting John Wark - Credit: Family of Penny Clark

Penny had planned her funeral and was adamant that Ipswich Town would be front and centre.

She had an Ipswich Town coffin with a horse and carriage.

Sheila said: "It was a real love, that football team could do no wrong."

Her passion for the Blues meant "everything was blue and white" and you would never catch her wearing green and yellow said her sister.

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And when it was decided not to have a church service, Sheila asked the funeral director if it would be possible to take a route past Portman Road instead.

Sheila contacted the club on the morning of Penny's funeral, on February 15, to see if anyone from the club would come out while her coffin was passing. 

She said: "It was pouring down with rain and I saw one man standing by the gate in Sir Alf Ramsey Way and he was drenched. 

"And then we went around the corner and five people were there. I thought that was so lovely they took the time to come out in the rain for someone so special."

Penny Clark's Ipswich Town coffin being pulled by horse and carriage in the rain

Penny wanted an Ipswich Town themed funeral with a horse and carriage - Credit: Sheila Clarke

Speaking about Penny and what made her brilliant, Sheila said: "She always smiled. She always had a hug for everybody. She didn't know the word hate, it wasn't in her vocabulary. 

"She knew what she wanted, if she wanted something she would do it and if she didn't want to do it she wouldn't. 

"Doctors said she had dementia in the end and I used to say to people if you'd known her a few years back she was the life and soul of the party. 

A young Penny pictured with Ipswich Town player Jason Dozzell.

Penny loved Ipswich Town and supporting the Blues, here she is pictured with Jason Dozzell. - Credit: Family of Penny Clark

"A long, long time ago she actually invited the Ipswich Town squad to a birthday party she wasn't even having. 

"My mum was lucky because the manager - I can't remember who it was at the time - phoned to say they couldn't come because they were playing away that weekend. 

"She was truly brilliant."

Penny Clark wearing a white dress

Penny Clark always had a hug for everyone, her family recalled - Credit: Family of Penny Clark