My favourite Ipswich Town XI: Ross Halls
- Credit: Archant
This feature is proving very popular as MIKE BACON continues to chat to Town fans, young and old, about their favourite-ever Ipswich Town XI. This week, video/photographer ROSS HALLS, tells us his favourite side which, as a fan in his 20s, is from the last two decades.
Goalkeeper: BARTOSZ BIALKOWSKI
I have always liked goalkeepers.
Unfortunately the last decade or so, we haven't been blessed with some of our best-ever at Portman Road, although Christian Walton is doing a great job now. But my favourite is the man with the beard, the Polish international, Bartosz Białkowski, who of course went to the World Cup. Had a loan spell at Town in 2009, but didn't play, then came in as back-up to Dean Gerken before getting his chance, becoming No.1, and from that point on was unbelievable. Watching his reel of saves, there are some unbelievable ones. A great character as well.
Wing-back: FABIAN WILNIS
What a guy he was. Solid right-back.
Of course part of the team that won promotion back to the Premiership. He enjoyed a testimonial at Portman Road because he was there for so long, you don't get that very often these days. Fabian had a few managers at Town, but was still picked regularly. Always went forward well, scored a few goals, of course we remember the ones against Norwich and Manchester United, in particular. He played more than 300 times for Town.
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Centre-half: JASON DE VOS
My first proper captain at Ipswich Town when I was growing up into my Town supporting days.
He was a cracking signing, we got Jason on a free from Wigan. He won so many headers and used to do something we could do with some of our defenders doing today, he could score from set-pieces. Named in Town's Hall of Fame. Of course at Ipswich we have a great connection with Canadians, Craig Forrest, Frank Yallop and Jaime Peters, to name a few. But De Vos was my favourite.
Centre-half: CHRISTOPHE BERRA
Again, a free agent signing.
Reunited with Mick McCarthy at Ipswich as they were together at Wolves and another player who was a great addition, and an experienced centre-half. His first season he won Supporters Player of the Year. He wasn't the fastest, but read the game so well and again scored from set-pieces. Did of course get sent off in the play-off semi-final, second leg, against Norwich, which some fans haven't forgotten, but I think that's a bit unfair. He was another great character.
Centre-half: GARETH McAULEY
I really liked Gareth, despite a bit of a shaky start at Town.
A real leader on and off the pitch, he turned into a superb player. Again scored goals from set-pieces, like all my three centre-halves! Sadly, left on a free, which I couldn't at the time and still can't get my head round today. He then played for seven seasons in the Premier League with West Brom. Also, did you know, Gareth was made an MBE in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to football in Northern Ireland? Tremendous.
Wing-back: AARON CRESSWELL
This guy is just a fantastic footballer.
One of the few good things Paul Jewell did at Town was sign Aaron from Tranmere. He enjoyed a superb first season, even getting linked with a Premier League club. But he stayed and carried on with us. Had a wand of a left-foot, he was always going to head towards the Premier League though, but not with us, sadly. Took set-pieces, scored from set-pieces. Went to West Ham and hasn't really looked back has he?
Right-midfield: GIOVANI DOS SANTOS
He made such a big impact in such a short space of time.
Eight games, four goals, the Mexican did some incredible things. We signed him on loan from Spurs and I can't still get over the fact that deal actually happened. I was so impressed with him, his touch, movement, goals. Scored against Norwich, the last time we beat them. But some of the things he did on the pitch, like wow! I was amazed. Mexican international and as a very young fan at the time, I was mesmerised by him.
Centre-midfield: OWEN GARVAN
He had the ability to float the ball around the pitch.
Very laid-back character and this is a bit of a big comparison, but he reminded me a bit of a young Steven Gerrard, the way he looked and went around the pitch. Owen made a big impression when he arrived, he was part of the FA Youth Cup-winning team in 2005, broke through with Joe Royle and then became a bit of a right-hand man for Jim Magilton, who he sort of replaced in the side. Sadly, didn't have the career at Town we would have liked, although he did play more than 150 games for us. Went to Palace and played in the Premier League.
Centre-midfield: TOMMY MILLER
What a man, goalscoring midfielder, penalty king.
Tommy linked up so well with Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi. That was my first real proper season of watching Town, week in, week out. The thing that stood out for me with Tommy was his celebrations. He had two celebrations, the one with the snooker cue, he would use the corner flag as the cue. And the press-ups he would do with Shefki. Such fun. Box-to-box midfielder who, as I said, scored goals. Something we have been lacking for some while.
Left-midfield: DARREN CURRIE
I don't think many will include Darren in their XI.
A winger, but not an especially quick one! I loved him, a few stepovers, getting crosses in. Our very own David Beckham in the way he looked and scoring from set-pieces. Good crosser of the ball, just a good tidy player. Loved the fact he had the No.10 shirt and tattoos everywhere! I've had the opportunity to speak to him a few times and he's a great character. And of course part of a successful Town team, enjoying back-to-back play-offs, under Joe Royle.
Striker: DARYL MURPHY
I normally like two up front, but this man can do the job on his own.
Daryl had three loan spells before he signed permanently at Town. He actually scored 23 seconds into his Town debut against Middlesbrough. He played on the left-wing a lot during his first two spells which I don't think did him any favours. But let's remember the season when he hit all the headlines, the 2014/15 season. 27 goals, right foot, left foot, headers, linking up with David McGoldrick, he almost fired us into the Premier League. I just loved some of his goals, scored some crackers that season. I don't think we've had a target man like him since.
Substitutes: None! This is my XI that will see the game through.
Manager: JOE ROYLE
Good old Joe, his teams scored so many goals.
And what a job he did, with very little money. Brought his own players in after so many were sold. Missed out on the play-offs twice, a great manager for us. He signed Darren Currie for a start. What a nice man as well. Those two seasons with the back-to-back play-offs were a real joy, so many good games. He did a fantastic job for us. Then again, I'm only in my 20s, so I didn't have a great choice of managers to choose from for this feature! Hopefully Kieran McKenna will be my main man in years to come.
And if you missed any of these from the series....