Support grows for Sir Bobby stand idea

A GROUNDSWELL of support for the renaming of Ipswich Town's North Stand in honour of Sir Bobby Robson was today gathering momentum.

Josh Warwick

A GROUNDSWELL of support for the renaming of Ipswich Town's North Stand in honour of Sir Bobby Robson was today gathering momentum.

Hundreds of fans have already signed an online petition calling for club bosses to afford the hugely-popular Geordie the accolade of having part of Portman Road named after him.

And today key figures from the Ipswich community backed the campaign.


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Former Town defender Kevin Beattie, considered by many as the finest player to ever pull on the famous blue and white shirt, urged the club to listen to fans.

“I think it's a very good idea,” he said.

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“We all know Sir Bobby's not well, although he will continue to battle on.

“If the supporters want it then that's what should happen. No one knows better than them.”

Ipswich MP Chris Mole also offered his support.

He said: “I think it would be entirely consistent with the affection in which the town and the club hold Sir Bobby, as was shown during the 30th anniversary celebration of the 1978 FC Cup victory.”

Borough council leader Liz Harsant described Sir Bobby as a wonderful man.

“I think renaming the North Stand would be a really nice idea,” she said. “I would support it.

“He's been such a wonderful man for Ipswich. He is known and loved all around the country and we should be proud as Ipswich people that he's part of our town and our club.”

A similar campaign has been launched in Newcastle, Sir Bobby's home town, where supporters are calling for one of the stands at St James' to be named in his honour.

Evening star columnist and Those Were The Days fanzine editor Phil Ham said calls for a North Stand name change were significant because they had originated on the terraces rather than in the boardroom.

“The club has given Sir Bobby plenty of tributes in the past, but this seems to be something that has come from the fans,” he said.

“It's something people were discussing when the news broke that Sir Bobby has not got much time left.

“It makes sense that the North Stand is the one that's being suggested because it's a tribute from what the club has always referred to as the fans' stand.

“If it's something the fans want, it's something the club should consider.”

Do you think the North Stand should be renamed after Sir Bobby? E-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN

To add your name to the petition, sign and return the attached petition slip to the above address or visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/sir_bobby_robson

IPSWICH Town today promised to consider the supporters' calls for a North Stand name change.

Terry Baxter, director of communications at Ipswich Town, said: “The club were delighted when Sir Bobby Robson agreed to the Galleria restaurant being renamed in his honour earlier this year,” he said.

“We know how proud he was and how pleased all supporters were to have the room named in this way.

“We are aware of the supporters' petition and understand the sentiment and will give due consideration to their request.

“At this time, as always, we are wishing Sir Bobby the very best.”

Should the club rename the North Stand, it will be the latest in a long line to honour former heroes in such a way.

In 1999, Nottingham Forest renamed the City Ground's Executive Stand, the Brian Clough Stand to recognise the huge contribution Clough made to the club.

Three years ago, Fulham renamed the club's Stevenage Road stand after the London club's legendary ex-star Johnny Haynes, who died months earlier.

North of the border, Scottish club Motherwell dedicated one of their stands to former captain Phil O'Donnell, who died suddenly last year.

At Chelsea, the Matthew Harding Stand is named after the club's former vice chairman who died in a helicopter crash in 1996.

West Ham United followed suit, naming one of its stands in memory of Bobby Moore.

Meanwhile, at Aston Villa, former chairman Doug Ellis will forever be associated with Villa Park, where part of the ground carries his name.

Did you know?

Building of the current North Stand started in 2001 following the demolition of the previous dated structure.

For much of the 2001/02 season, the stand was devoid of any fans, with some pundits claiming the lack of the North Stand roar was partially responsible for the club's relegation from the Premier League.

Another 4,000 seats were added as a result of the redevelopment, meaning Ipswich was able to boast a 30,000 all-seater stadium.

The North Stand also houses the club's superstore.

However a decision was made not to include any executive facilities, because the North Stand has traditionally been the haunt of Town's most loyal and vociferous supporters.

The combined cost of the rebuilding of the North Stand and the South Stand, formerly Churchmans and now the Greene King Stand, came to £22million.

Jason Osborne, 39, of Norwich

“I'm a Norwich City fan. It's sad news about Sir Bobby. He's done a lot and he's also been England manager. He's the only Ipswich Town manager I respect.

“The stand should be named after him.”

Frank King, 76, of Prince Of Wales Drive, Ipswich

“It's a brilliant idea. He was a first class manager for Ipswich. His work has been important to people who have got cancer. It is very sad he has months to live. He's a lovely man.”

Jacki Vallance, 54, of Cliff Lane, Ipswich

“It's very sad news. He is respected by the whole community. I'm not an Ipswich fan but he was a very good manager and he did a lot for the town when he was here.

“The North Stand should definitely be named in his honour, if not the whole stadium.”

Kerry Fairweather, 27, of Curley Road, Ipswich

“It's sad news, he's a nice bloke. They should rename the stand. He's done so much for Ipswich and he should be honoured. He always supported Ipswich.”

Angela Spooner, 31, Stowmarket Road, Great Blakenham

“I'm a Newcastle United fan. I was quite shocked to hear the news about him. It's a good idea to rename the stand, he's a nice bloke. He was popular in Newcastle as well. I hope Newcastle rename a stand or do something similar to honour him.”

Nigel Barnes, 38, of High Road, Trimley St Martin

“I'm an Ipswich Town fan. It's sad news for football and sad news for Ipswich. He put Ipswich on the map as far as football is concerned. I think renaming the stand is a brilliant idea and a good way of honouring him.”

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