Dave Gooderham: We’re not going up - so let’s start playing without fear
Turn to chapter nine of the late Len Shackleton’s autobiography, the ‘Crown Prince of Soccer’, and you will be greeted by an almost blank page, writes Dave Gooderham.
The chapter is entitled 'The Average Director's Knowledge of Football' and is followed by a note that simply reads: 'This chapter has deliberately been left blank in accordance with the author's wishes.'
I know what you are thinking. That the next 650 words or so will be aimed at Marcus Evans and headlined with something akin to 'An Ipswich Town owner's knowledge of football'. Not quite. I was thinking about this famous chapter from a player I know very little about when I was considering this week's theme.
I almost contacted the esteemed sports editor to ask if we can we simply leave this page in the newspaper blank. Though I'm not sure how well that would work on the website. The reason? I feel out of words, dear reader. Supporting Ipswich Town recently has been like an incredibly messy break-up when you go through the whole gamut of emotions.
Happy, elated, hopeful, desperate, angry, sad, disgruntled, fed-up and bored. I know some of these virtually mean the same thing, but I had to get that ITFC brain-dump out of me. The players, like me, are bored of saying the same thing and we are all fed up of listening to them.
Some fans are gearing themselves up for the fight - against the owner, managers, players and all the above - and I salute them. But I simply feel resigned at present. Unsure what the future holds, unhappy with the (recent) past as well as the present, I don't have that much fight left in me.
Do we get rid of the current manager? Part of me thinks so, another part of me wants Paul Lambert to succeed because then we will have something to celebrate. A bigger part of me just doesn't trust Marcus Evans to get it right because I'm not sure he knows what the right move is.
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He's tried experience, he's tried an up-and-comer and he's tried a PR man, though obviously Lambert is more than that. Nothing is working. I'm reading this back and I'm finding it depressing - so I must apologise to you readers (if any of you are still reading).
Am I falling out of love with football? That's the ironic thing. I've never found the game more beautiful. Coaching Under-8s, seeing their development, their enthusiasm, their joy. Talking to (well trying to beat) my sons at Fantasy Football or FIFA, settling down to watch a big domestic or European clash or putting big parts of my life on hold just in case England get to the latter stages of the Euros.
My sons have made me fall in love with football more than ever - at the same time Ipswich are trying to send me to divorce courts.
How will things change? I'd like Ipswich Town to start playing without fear, really take the shackles off. We are not going up, I think we are all almost certain of that, so let's start really imposing ourselves on opponents and taking the game to them.
I know this isn't always possible and injuries certainly make it more difficult. But I would rather be entertained and lose 4-3 than play safe and draw or lose by the single goal. Isn't football meant to be fun, after all?
The worrying thing is that if I had written this column last season, I would have been saying the same thing. Maybe in a different division, maybe in a slightly different end of the table, but still the same thing. Urging Lambert to play attractive football - something which has been promised but never really delivered. Urging his players to get the ball down and really believe in themselves.
I am trying to remain positive, but it is difficult. I don't share the same memories as those born just 10 years before me (pre-1979). But I do have a random Town fan who grabbed me when Gary Megson scored that own goal, I have Marcus Stewart's gloves and David McGoldrick's silky touch. I have beating Barnsley and Inter Milan and interviewing Luke Hyam after he scored his first goal for his hometown club and seeing how much it meant to him.
This is my club. I have no idea where we are heading and the future remains sketchy at best. But I will cheer the Blues, super or otherwise, no matter what in the hope of more memories to come. What choice do we really have?
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