Sir Bobby to get town's highest honour

IPSWICH all-time hero Sir Bobby Robson is set to receive the town's highest honour, The Evening Star can reveal today.The footballing legend will be given the freedom of Ipswich on May 5 as the whole town celebrates the 30th anniversary of Ipswich Town's FA Cup triumph.

IPSWICH all-time hero Sir Bobby Robson is set to receive the town's highest honour, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The footballing legend will be given the freedom of Ipswich on May 5 as the whole town celebrates the 30th anniversary of Ipswich Town's FA Cup triumph.

Today, James Hehir, chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council, which is bestowing the honour on the 75-year-old, said: “Sir Bobby has been a tremendous ambassador for Ipswich and for football ever since he came to Portman Road.

“His success here in Ipswich and, later, for England proves he is a man of great stature.

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“But his contribution goes beyond the world of football. Sir Bobby's health campaigns show an additional side to him.

“He has also battled against illnesses with great courage and he has earned the town's respect and affection.”

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For an individual to be given the freedom of Ipswich is rare. The last person to be granted the honour was former MP Ken Weetch about 20 years ago.

And Nigel Pickover, editor of The Evening Star, said it was right that Sir Bobby was joining such a special group of people, particularly on a day of such joyous celebration as the 30th anniversary of the cup win.

He said: “He is determined to be here and he is thrilled to be honoured in this special way.

“He is the great Sir Bobby Robson and he deserves the freedom of Ipswich more than anyone else.

“We salute him.”

The ceremony is due to take place in front of thousands of fans on the balcony of Ipswich Town Hall after the 1978 squad travel through Ipswich in an open-top bus on May 5.

Inga Lockington, Ipswich's mayor, who will present the accolade, said: “If there is something Ipswich is known for it is football, and Sir Bobby Robson was so important in that.

“It will be a real honour to grant him the freedom of Ipswich, especially in front of the people of Ipswich.”

Are you pleased Sir Bobby Robson will be given the freedom of Ipswich? Who else would you like to see granted the honour? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail

Sir Bobby Robson

Bobby Robson was born in County Durham and grew up watching Newcastle United.

He began to play football at 11 and by 15 he was representing his club at under-18 level.

His professional career began in 1950 with Fulham where he played as an inside-forward until 1956 when he signed for West Bromwich Albion, before returning to the London club in 1962.

He left Fulham in 1967 and moved to Canada's Vancouver Royals before again coming back to Craven Cottage in 1968 as the manager.

As a player he made 20 appearances for the England national team, making his debut in 1957.

As a manager he moved to Ipswich Town in 1969 where he stayed for 13 years, winning the FA Cup and UEFA Cup.

In 1982 he became coach of the English national football team where he stayed until 1990 when he moved to PSV Eindhoven.

He also spent time as a manager at Sporting Lisbon, Porto, and Barcelona, before moving to Newcastle United in 1999.

He was knighted in 2002 for his services to football and already has the freedom of the city of Newcastle, which was granted in 2005.

AT a sun-soaked Wembley on May 6, 1978, Ipswich Town won the world's most famous football competition, claiming the FA Cup courtesy of a 1-0 win over Arsenal.

Three decades on the Evening Star, Ipswich Borough Council, BBC Radio Suffolk and Ipswich Town Football Club have teamed up to stage a reunion, marking the Blues' wonderful achievement.

On Bank Holiday Monday, May 5, the entire squad - including legendary boss Sir Bobby Robson - will enjoy an open-top bus ride through Ipswich, before a gala dinner at the Town Hall in honour of their Wembley triumph.

Thousands of fans are expected to converge on the Cornhill to watch highlights from the game on a giant screen.

Supporters can buy a table at the dinner at the Corn Exchange, priced at £1,000 + VAT for ten people, by calling Austen Dack on 01353 658216 or e-mailing

There are also £40 tickets for the event in the Corn Exchange's balcony. For more information call 01473 433133.

Freedom of the borough

The Free status dates back to medieval times when city and town charters drew a distinction between freemen and those serving a feudal Lord

Freemen enjoyed special rights, dependent on local customs, such as the right to graze sheep on the land and exemptions from certain tolls and dues

Nowadays the role is ceremonial and about a town or city bestowing an honour

Military units can also be granted the freedom of the town, a tradition which is thought to date back to feudal times, when militias would be allowed to march only when they had won the trust of townspeople

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