Thanks for the memories, says Osman

PUBLISHED: 13:18 05 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:29 03 March 2010

RUSSELL Osman was so touched by Ipswich Town's gesture in staging a UEFA Cup reunion, to honour the players who brought the trophy to Suffolk in 1981, that he requested to relay his thoughts on a memorable evening.

RUSSELL Osman was so touched by Ipswich Town's gesture in staging a UEFA Cup reunion, to honour the players who brought the trophy to Suffolk in 1981, that he requested to relay his thoughts on a memorable evening. Former Town and England defender Russell penned a message of thanks that he wanted to share with Star readers and we are proud to publish it in full.

I am sure that all the ex-players of ITFC who were there for the reunion dinner last week would agree with me in saying what a wonderful evening it was. I could not be present until midnight due to work commitments but I can assure you that I enjoyed the last few hours of evening/early morning as much as anyone else.

OK, it was great to see all the old players that I used to take the field with, but more on them later. The highlight for me was to see all the rest of the people who were just as much a part of the club's success as any one player.

Everyone from the laundry girls to the groundsmen, the girls in the ticket office, and secretaries, to the girls in the Centre Spot restaurant, had been invited. We have all changed in one way or another but we all share that wonderful memory of those fantastic European matches.

It is very rare for a club to go to the trouble of organising a night like last Thursday unless, like many clubs, they see a financial profit in it for them. For the club to 'roll out the red carpet' for us, made it feel an honour to have played for such a club. The occasion and how it was managed, and the way the wine flowed from start to finish, would have made Mr John and Mr Pat very proud.

It was an Ipswich Town night where every detail had been taken care of, and everything was done with bit of style. Pat Godbold, as always, was at the heart of getting all the players in the right place at the right time, no mean feat at all.

I felt terrible when I had to let Pat know that I could not be there until late, and I am sure that Terry Butcher felt the same as he was stuck on a ship in the Mediterranean. My eldest son Tom represented me and after seeing all the marvellous video clips of the European ties, actually now accepts that once upon a time his Dad did play a bit in quite a decent team!

It was a unique evening for the Osman family in that there were three generations present on the night with my father Rex having been in charge of the Centre Spot during this celebrated era.

Some players I see occasionally every year – Alan Brazil, Warky, Kevin Beattie, Mick Mills, George and a few others – but it was terrific to see Paul Mariner for the first time in at least 15 years, maybe even more. Eric Gates, even though he still lives in this country, up in the North East, is another one I had only seen once before since the early 80s, and that was in a testimonial game at Portman Road.

Likewise with Arnold and Frans – not bad players were they? – and alongside Roger Osborne for most of evening was someone I respect immensely, someone who taught me how to play centre-half properly, Allan Hunter.

It was also great to see the old coaching staff, Bobby Ferguson, Charlie Woods and, of course, Bobby Robson, who spoke brilliantly for over 40 minutes. He appeared to be quite proud of his team as he eulogised about the great season we had.

Many things happen at football clubs that go unnoticed by the supporters and yet this reunion dinner has been well covered in the local media. I just felt it would be good to put pen to paper on behalf of the players and let the club, the chairman and directors know how much we, the players, and our partners, appreciated the occasion.

Ipswich Town is a great club and I am sure all the ex-players wish them well for the rest of the season and in particular for the start of their new European campaign.

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