Town fans prepare for big match

A BLUE and white wave of excitement washed over Suffolk today on the eve of Ipswich Town's showpiece cup tie at Chelsea.

A BLUE and white wave of excitement washed over Suffolk today on the eve of Ipswich Town's showpiece cup tie at Chelsea.

A dedicated army of 6,000 Town fans will head to west London by rail and road tomorrow, clinging to the romantic hope that Jim Magilton's team can topple Chelsea's aristocrats.

Stamford Bridge's Shed End will accommodate the supporters from Suffolk, who will be armed with thousands of balloons and posters thanks to The Evening Star.

The FA Cup is renowned for its upsets - and according to the bookies, a Town victory would be a major shock.

Ipswich are considered 14/1 long shots to win, while Chelsea are a short 1/5.

Graham Sharpe, from Ladbrokes, said: “People will say Ipswich have no chance, but you never know.

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“These days, we don't know how seriously Chelsea will be taking the match. The FA Cup may not be at the top of their list of priorities.

“For instance, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has already said he will play a weakened team against Manchester United because his team are involved in a relegation fight.

“The majority of punters will have the game down as a home banker but from our point of view, we would be delighted if Ipswich could win or even draw.

“History suggests there will always be shocks at this stage of the cup - so why shouldn't Ipswich go and cause an upset.”

Adam Bensusan, retail store manager of the Ipswich Town shop in the Buttermarket said business had been brisk in recent days as cup fever grew.

“It's been excellent,” he said.

“It's been a bit of whirlwind experience drawing one of the biggest clubs in the world. We sold out of tickets in days and it has really raised interest in the club.”

The club has brought out a special t-shirt especially for the occasion, emblazoned with the slogan, “A Better Shade of Blue”.

Mr Bensusan added: “It would be great to get a draw and bring them back to Suffolk so everyone can see Chelsea.”

Can Town beat Chelsea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Vox Pop:

Ashton Liffen, 40, from Stowmarket:

“Hopefully, if we can get a draw and bring them back to Portman Road, we might get a result there.

“I think they've got to go at them all guns blazing and anything's possible.”

Joan Pike, 75, from Martlesham:

“I've got two grandsons, one's 17 and one's 15, and they're both off on the supporter's coach.

“Their mother was on the phone all morning while her sons were standing in the queue down at Portman Road.

“Hopefully they'll draw.”

David Dod, 62, from Darwin Road, Ipswich:

“I'm not a sports person as such but I always look at the scores and see how they're doing.

“They've always got a chance.”

Adam Warner, 20, from Ipswich:

“I'm saying Chelsea 4 Ipswich 1.”

James Ishac, 19, from Ipswich:

“I'm thinking Ipswich are going to make a big surprise this weekend.

“It's going to be an Ipswich win, definitely.”

Pauline Marsh, 64, of Foxhall Road, Ipswich:

“They've got as much chance as anybody, I suppose.

“They've just got to pull their finger out and start kicking the ball!”

Integral leader:

THIS season has been a mixed bag for Jim Magilton's unpredictable Ipswich Town.

From the high of beating Premier League hopefuls Reading to the bitter low of losing at East Anglian rivals Norwich, Portman Road has witnessed a topsy-turvy few months.

However, tomorrow's glamour FA Cup tie at big-spending Chelsea represents a break from the bread and butter of league football - and a chance for Town to test themselves against one of the world's best.

The showpiece occasion also offers a chance for the Blue and White faithful - who are turning out in such magnificent numbers - to get right behind their team.

The mumblings of terrace discontent must be silenced.

Banners calling for Magilton's head should be left at home.

And criticism of the players needs to be cast aside.

Because for Town to stand any chance in tomorrow's battle of Stamford Bridge, the manager and his team will need the full backing of the travelling 6,000 from Suffolk.

Come on you Blues!

The odds:

4/1 - Chelsea to win the cup

150/1 - Ipswich to win the cup

1/5 - Chelsea to win tomorrow

5/1 - Town to get a draw

14/1 - Ipswich to beat Chelsea at the Bridge

Did you know?

Probable starting line ups combined cost:

Chelsea: �121.8 million

Ipswich Town: �5.9 million

Tussle of the tycoons: Roman Abramovich v Marcus Evans

Abramovich:

Age: 42

Estimated wealth: �10.8 billion

How he made his millions: Abramovich began his business career selling plastic ducks from a Moscow apartment, but within a few years his wealth spread from oil conglomerates to pig farms.

Between 1992 and 1995 Abramovich founded five companies that conducted resale and acted as intermediaries, eventually specialising in the trading of oil and oil products.

When took over at Chelsea: June 2003

Cash spent at club: �600 million

Successes: Two Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup.

Memorable quote: “I don't want to throw my money away, but it's really about having fun and that means success and trophies.”

Evans:

Age: 45

Estimated wealth: �200 million

How he made his millions: Evans started his first company, Associated Promotions, in the early 1980s, attempting to tap into the growing corporate hospitality market.

His current business, Marcus Evans the company, employs more than 3,500 people in 36 countries around the globe delivering intelligence and business products across a full range of commercial sectors.

When took over Ipswich: December 2007

Cash spent at club: Around �20 million

Successes: An eighth placed Championship finish.

Memorable quote: None - the publicity shy tycoon shuns the limelight. However, his company website carries a quote from Aristotle: “All men by nature desire to know.”

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