Sir Bobby is freight for a laugh

TOWN legend Sir Bobby Robson led a captive audience down memory lane to reflect on a successful era as Ipswich manager.Members of the Felixstowe Freight Club and their guests enjoyed an emotional speech laced with good humour from the current Newcastle boss.

TOWN legend Sir Bobby Robson led a captive audience down memory lane to reflect on a successful era as Ipswich manager.

Members of the Felixstowe Freight Club and their guests enjoyed an emotional speech laced with good humour from the current Newcastle boss.

Sir Bobby, who will be 70 later this month, interrupted his busy schedule – the Geordie giants host Premiership leaders Arsenal in a game of massive importance on Sunday – to address a 250-strong audience at the Orwell Moat House.

They warmed immediately to his nostalgic theme as he admitted that his affinity to Town even meant that quitting to become England manager in 1982 had been a wrench.

"It was a wonderful 14 years with Ipswich," he reflected. "I had great working conditions, great directors and an unbelievable chairman in John Cobbold, the like of whom we will never see again."

Sir Bobby had the audience in stitches as he reeled off anecdotes in which Mr John, as he was affectionately known, played the leading role.

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Like the time he headed an Ipswich Town delegation into London to attend the annual dinner of the South East Counties League, at which he was to make his inaugural presidential address.

"Mr John had been drinking before the dinner and again during it, and when he was introduced he stood up, swayed one way then the next, then toppled back and actually disappeared under the table," remembered Sir Bobby.

"He was lifted up, carried out and, although he hadn't managed to utter a single word, he was given a standing ovation!"

Sir Bobby also recalled an away game at Leicester when Mr John sat alongside him in the Filbert Street directors' box.

He said: "We were losing 2-0 and he turned to me and said 'The boys are playing rather well today, Bobby. Have you been working on some new things in training?'

"It dawned on me that he actually thought we were winning. I had to tell him 'Mr John, Leicester are in blue and we are the away team, wearing yellow'.

"It was at that point, I think, that I decided 'I'm not going anywhere, I'll stick with this guy'. I knew when I was well off!"

Sir Bobby also recalled almost a decade on the continent, the highlight of which was to be coach of Barcelona.

He captivated the crowd with the tale of how the Barca president asked him to find a player capable of enthralling the club's notoriously hard-to-please supporters.

"I told him I had the player – Ronaldo," he said, before revealing how the Spanish club's initial offer of 10 million dollars was rejected, PSV Eindhoven only relenting when the ante was eventually doubled.

"The president then sold Ronaldo to Inter Milan just eight months later for 32 million dollars – and he didn't even give me 10 per cent," he laughed.

Former Town players Kevin Beattie and John Wark, both set on the road to stardom by Sir Bobby, were part of a hugely appreciative audience.

The event, jointly sponsored by local firms Boast International and Sportsmen in Business, also raised more than £1,000 for Suffolk-based charity Disability Care Enterprise, of which Sir Bobby is a vice-president.

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