Paint the town blue for Sir Bobby

LET'S paint the town blue and white!That was the clarion call to shopkeepers in Ipswich today as the town prepares to bid a final farewell to Sir Bobby Robson.

LET'S paint the town blue and white!

That was the clarion call to shopkeepers in Ipswich today as the town prepares to bid a final farewell to Sir Bobby Robson.

Borough council leaders are urging traders to deck their windows out in Town's colours on Monday when the former Ipswich and England manager's memorial service is screened live on the Cornhill.

They hope to create a bright backdrop of support and respect in Sir Bobby's honour.

The council, backed by Ipswich Town, broadcaster Sky and the Football Association, recently announced it will beam footage direct from the service at Durham Cathedral.

The Cornhill has a special significance for Blues fans - Sir Bobby made his final public appearance in Ipswich there last May, receiving a hero's welcome when he stood on the balcony of the Town Hall after being given the Freedom of the Borough.

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He was joined by his 1978 FA Cup-winning team at the Thirty Years of Honour celebration, organised by The Evening Star.

The location has also been the scene of celebrations to mark UEFA Cup success in 1981 and promotion to the Premier League in 2000.

The memorial service will mark the start of an emotional week for supporters of both Ipswich and Newcastle United - Sir Bobby's boyhood favourites.

Town will officially rename the club's North Stand in his honour before the Blues' home match with The Magpies on September 26.

His widow, Lady Elsie, is expected to be at Portman Road as guest of honour.

Ipswich Town will be selling special blue and black scarves, priced at around �6, with all profits going to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Borough council leader Liz Harsant, a season ticket-holder at Portman Road, urged town centre shops to play their part in turning Ipswich blue on Monday.

She said: “I am sure there will be a great deal of interest - Sir Bobby was not only a national hero, he was an Ipswich hero and will always be a legend here.

“We are grateful to the FA and to the football club for their support and I hope many people turn up and pay their respects to this great man.

“We thought it was fitting to hold the event on the Cornhill as this was the scene of the FA Cup celebration and the granting of the Freedom of the Borough to Sir Bobby just last year.”

Sir Bobby managed Ipswich during the club's glory years, steering the Blues to domestic and European glory during his 13-year tenure at Portman Road.

The 76-year-old, who also coached Barcelona and Newcastle, died at his home in Durham on July 31 after succumbing to cancer - the fifth bout of the disease he had fought.

Tell us how you will be honouring Sir Bobby on Monday - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Sir Bobby's last appearance in Ipswich:

ON an occasion charged with emotion, thousands took to the streets to mark the 30th anniversary of Ipswich Town's glorious FA Cup triumph.

Last May's magical reunion of the boys of '78 - Thirty Years of Honour - provided a final chance to pay homage to the great Sir Bobby Robson.

His moving speech to the legions of Blues followers from the Town Hall balcony will never be forgotten for those who were there.

Fans roared and chanted the names of their Wembley heroes as, one by one, they took the microphone to recall their memories of May 6, 1978.

But the loudest cheer was reserved for Sir Bobby, an adopted son of Ipswich and the man who put its football club firmly on the map.

Recognition of his importance to Ipswich was made by former mayor, Inga Lockington, who presented Sir Bobby with the freedom of the borough before paying tribute to his and the team's remarkable feat.

Considered by many to be the father-figure of English football, Sir Bobby said: “To see everybody together again is wonderful.

“This is a great day in my life and it's a great pleasure for me to be here.

“I'm overwhelmed to receive the freedom of the borough. It's a great honour and an honour I respect.”