Karl Fuller: Lambert is bringing the fans back - I saw it happen in person at Southend
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I read Stuart Watson’s final verdict of the weekend with great interest as he reflected on Paul Lambert’s first anniversary and what the Scot has achieved in his year in charge, writes Karl Fuller.
One of the key talking points was how Lambert has reconnected fans to the club and how a new generation is now on board. There are some from a previous generation that are returning too, now that the club has moved on from its stagnant position of so long.
The group that I stood with at Southend on Saturday was the perfect example of those different fan types as it contained someone from the past, present and future generations.
I travelled down with my old mate Kevin Mitchell who is somewhat a veteran of supporting Town and whose earlier life saw him travelling all over Europe as well as enjoying Wembley in 1978.
He remains a top fan today. His daughter Abbie drove - she is a relevant newcomer as a season ticket holder - and his granddaughter Skye was on board too, attending just her second away game - her first being the defeat at Accrington a week earlier.
It's fair to say that Abbie and Skye both enjoyed themselves on Saturday no doubt enjoying the occasion of watching Ipswich win away in a fantastic atmosphere.
But my thoughts were with an old mate of mine in Antony Humphries who was attending his first Town game for a long time having been disillusioned at both the end of the Mick McCarthy era and throughout the disastrous period under Paul Hurst.
Antony was keen to see whether the hype around this current Ipswich era would be vindicated both on and off the pitch.
Naturally, a game at Southend would always be a good one within the stand and it probably wasn't a true game for Antony to judge the mood on the terraces.
Nevertheless, and suffice to say, this fan who went all over the country watching his beloved Town back in the day thoroughly enjoyed his afternoon at Roots Hall and was particularly impressed with a few Blues to boot.
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I think enough to see him back at Portman Road sometime soon and this is exactly what has and continues to happen under Lambert.
For the misgivings that are to be endured from time to time on the pitch, much continues to build off of it and whilst not always the most important part - it's a results business after all - it's still a major ingredient of the rebuild that Lambert has gotten right.
For me personally, the barometer was set before the home game with Middlesbrough during Hurst's reign to gauge my feelings for the club.
That night, when on the road, I reached a junction where I had to turn left to go to the game or keep straight on to head for home and head for home I did.
I simply had no energy to force myself to the game. Now, I'd turn left every time. It's a thumbs-up from me after year one and I look forward to how this story develops over the next year.
As for Saturday, our other travelling companion, Jason Bennett and I had an interesting afternoon. We found a pub not far from Southend seafront who momentarily stopped serving alcohol due to 'excessive singing' as one barmaid told me and when they did resume, it took over 20 minutes to be served.
Not just in the pub though, there were literally Ipswich fans everywhere within half-a-mile of the ground, so much so that I don't recall seeing one Southend fan in colours.
Once inside the ground, it was a real throwback to the 80's and undoubtedly just about the worst football ground cosmetically that I have visited for many a year.
That said, it gave the ground character and the rusty, corrugated roofing certainly helped raise the noise level.
I was privileged to see Jason Dozzell walking along our row to find a seat and he took the time to say hello and have a quick chat, rekindling memories of the time I saw him on the pitch there in 1992.
This game may not have had the edge of that one, but it was still another decent away day.
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