England's disaster... Town's saviour?

ENGLAND'S defeat against Croatia last week was a disaster for the national game - but could it be the salvation of Ipswich Town FC?Look back through the history of the last 50 years, and it is clear that the Portman Road club always does better when England are in the doldrums.

By Paul Geater

ENGLAND'S defeat against Croatia last week was a disaster for the national game - but could it be the salvation of Ipswich Town FC?

Look back through the history of the last 50 years, and it is clear that the Portman Road club always does better when England are in the doldrums.

And a successful England team always seems to spell doom for the boys in blue.

When was Ipswich Town's most successful era? The 1970s and early 1980s.

How did England do during those times? They failed to qualify for the World Cups of 1974 and 1978 and the European Championship finals of 1976.

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Ipswich qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time in 1973 - and were putting in impressive European displays while England were knocked out of the World Cup qualifiers by Poland.

Ipswich won the FA Cup in 1978, and then had to watch “Ally's Tartan Army” march off to Argentina, leaving England at home.

England's re-emergence started in the 1982 World Cup in Spain - with a smattering of Ipswich players - which co-incided with the start of Town's decline after Bobby Robson left to manage the national side.

Since then success for England has spelled doom for the Town. A reasonably successful World Cup in 1986 saw Town's relegation from the first division and the near-glorious 1990 campaign happened as Town were struggling in the second division and eventually sacked manager John Duncan.

Graham Taylor's miserable European championship exploits of 1992 in Sweden happened in the year that Ipswich became one of the founder members of The Premiership and Town's “great escape” of 1994 happened in the year that England failed to make it to the World Cup finals in America.

Since then the England/Ipswich balance has continued.

Town were promoted in 2000, when England failed to progress past the group stage of the European Championships in Holland and Belgium.

The 2002 World Cup in Japan, where England won plaudits for their performances, co-incided with Town's last relegation from the Premiership.

In fact the 2001/2 season is a perfect example of how England's success mirrored Town's decline. At the start of the season England looked unlikely to qualify for the World Cup finals and Town had qualified for Europe.

But England's success against Germany - and their subsequent qualification for the finals - came as Town sled down the table.

Going further back in history when England won the World Cup in 1966, Ipswich had finished 15th in the second division - their lowest position for many years.

So with England failing to qualify for a major tournament for the first time in 14 years, the future must look bright for Ipswich Town.

The Tractor Boys are already well placed to mount a promotion challenge and with the added financial stability offered by a Marcus Evans' takeover the future should look very bright.

And let's face it most fans remember the good times for their club rather than the bad times for their country.

What are your memories of the summer of 2000 - lamenting England's failure in the low countries or looking forward to Town's return to the Premiership?

So look forward to the summer of 2008 - it should be a great time for Suffolk football fans!

n What do you think? Will Ipswich win promotion to the Premier League this season? Write to Sports Desk, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail starsport@eveningstar.co.uk. Please include your full name and address.

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