Thousands get to meet their heroes at Ipswich Town Open Day in Portman Road

Ipswich Town Open Day. Fun activities for all the family as well as first-team signing session. Left

Ipswich Town Open Day. Fun activities for all the family as well as first-team signing session. Left to right, Kaicee-Jai Bentley and Kaiden Bentley. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Blues fans of all ages have gathered at Portman Road today to meet their heroes ahead of the start of the new season.

Jane Middleditch with Town captain Luke Chambers at the open day. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Jane Middleditch with Town captain Luke Chambers at the open day. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Thousands of fans lined the side of the stadium this morning in a bid to meet the players, watch training and take part in fun and games.

The event, which traditionally is held in the run-up to the start of the new season, surpassed last year’s 4,000 within an hour and a half after 4,600 were clocked through the gates, with more than 2,000 enjoying the chance to meet players in the signing zone.

Fans enjoying watching the training session at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Fans enjoying watching the training session at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“It’s been really, really good, we’ve had a great turn out over 2,000 through [for] the signatures, so we are really pleased,” said stadium manager Gregg Pillinger.

There were queues around the ground for the event. Picture: GREGG BROWN

There were queues around the ground for the event. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“We open it up to the community and the fans can get really close to the players, and then they can get pitch side and watch the players what they do in the training session.

Fans had the chance to meet the players. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Fans had the chance to meet the players. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“Twenty-three times a year they see the guys running around on the pitch but to get up close and personal with them and to meet their idols is very, very important.”

No-one minded queueing as more than 4,000 fans attended the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BR

No-one minded queueing as more than 4,000 fans attended the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

After the signing session, the players took to the pitch where fans witnessed a typical training session for the club, while the practice pitch was buzzing with other activities.

Left to right, Town keeper Bartosz Marek BiaBkowski and Jamie Oakley. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Left to right, Town keeper Bartosz Marek BiaBkowski and Jamie Oakley. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

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A mini-golf challenge was set up alongside full games, goal-scoring challenges, bouncy castle and music entertainment, while Town mascots Bluey and Crazee posed for pictures with eager youngsters.

Left to right, Josh Taylor and club captain Luke Chambers. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Left to right, Josh Taylor and club captain Luke Chambers. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Sarah Hughes, 28, said: “We have never been before but we have heard about it in previous years and thought we would come.

Pictured with David McGoldrick is Charlotte Bee and Harley Calver. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Pictured with David McGoldrick is Charlotte Bee and Harley Calver. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“It’s been brilliant – being free as well is good, but it just gives them the chance to look around the stadium.”

Tommy Smith chats with a fan at the signing session. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Tommy Smith chats with a fan at the signing session. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

For Ali Wright, 36, who is one of three generations in her family to go along to home games as a season-ticket holder, the event was important going into the new season following the difficulties the club experienced in the 2016/17 campaign.

Fun activities for all the family as well as first-team signing session were part of the open day fo

Fun activities for all the family as well as first-team signing session were part of the open day for Ipswich Town fans. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“The morale of fans is quite low so I think it is great to help boost morale and start the season off on the right foot,” she said.

Part of the crowd watching the Ipswich Town training session. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Part of the crowd watching the Ipswich Town training session. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“There is so much to do and the players are really lovely at the signing – they want to see the children, and at the end of the day the children are the next generation of season ticket holders.”

Left to right, Remy and Jaelyn Small enjoying the day. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Left to right, Remy and Jaelyn Small enjoying the day. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Fans enjoying watching the training session at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Fans enjoying watching the training session at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Fans enjoying watching the training session at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Fans enjoying watching the training session at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Fans enjoying watching the training session at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Fans enjoying watching the training session at the Ipswich Town Open Day. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown