Fuller Flavour: Relegation may have been a blessing in disguise
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It’s a very happy anniversary for this EADT/Ipswich Star column today. First launched on September 24, 2012, it has overseen a period which in the main, has not been the happiest in our history, writes Karl Fuller.
I don't write the headlines but the very first one seven years ago read "The white wine has run out - and so has the patience."
This referenced how in the days of John Cobbold a crisis at our club was when the wine ran out in the boardroom while at that point our patience was running out as we languished at the foot of the league towards the end of the Paul Jewell era.
I wrote in that column: "I believe you have to look at the whole picture of the club, to cement foundations upon which to start building again to evolve it back into the community, to bring the passion back and to make the place feel like 'our Ipswich' again."
And through the tenures of Messrs Jewell, McCarthy and Hurst, and even Roy Keane before all those men, at no point did I personally ever feel that we really had our club back.
Then along came Paul Lambert and since his arrival, I really feel that we are seeing serious movement off the pitch towards getting that whole community feel about the place.
We're seeing community projects taking off with schools and the younger supporters now being enticed back to the club. Older fans are coming back and the atmosphere at games is so much better thanks to the Blue Action group that Lambert continues to support.
Wins and clean sheets are paramount to the growth of Lamberts project and the squad in place is as good as it should get for League One football.
I've been hugely impressed with Kane Vincent-Young, James Wilson has fitted in well, James Norwood will score goals at this level as he has proved already, and our 'own' are stepping up to the plate in Luke Woolfenden and Flynn Downes.
Yet bizarrely, despite what we've achieved so far in the league this season, I feel that there is so much more to come as we've yet to win any game convincingly and there is still no obvious set system or formation. There might not be all season for all we know, and adaptability is never a bad thing.
Our last two games both saw 1-0 away victories with a few changes made to our starting line-up on each occasion. At 2pm on Saturday, there were a few groans on Twitter when Town announced the side to take on Gillingham.
Fans will get frustrated when they see certain players not starting but could we really expect Emyr Huws and Jon Nolan to start two games in five days? If Norwood was not 100% fit, it was right that he should have started on the bench.
I must admit that those last two games did get a bit tense especially when seven minutes of injury-time was announced at MK Dons as we know what usually happens when that amount of time is added on at the end of games.
So back to the top of the league, still unbeaten, five clean sheets in a row - what's not to like?
The feel-good factor is back and long may it continue. I enjoy coming to games again now whereas just over a year ago, I felt as if coming to games was a chore and was only happening because it was like a drug addiction that I needed in my life to exist.
A chance to catch up with mates has always been a huge part of the matchday experience. Going to watch Ipswich was so often the excuse rather than the reason for my journey from Essex to cross the Suffolk border.
Getting relegated was never ideal. I certainly didn't want it, but it might just be a blessing in disguise. It's far too early to say of course but the seeds of hope have been planted.
I won't allow my thoughts to race ahead of me yet but there's more keeping me happy now than in most of the past seven years of writing this column!
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