Town thanks its Wembley heroes

A TRULY magical day in celebration of a wonderful achievement. On an occasion charged with emotion, thousands took to the streets to mark the 30th anniversary of Ipswich Town's glorious FA Cup triumph.

A TRULY magical day in celebration of a wonderful achievement.

On an occasion charged with emotion, thousands took to the streets to mark the 30th anniversary of Ipswich Town's glorious FA Cup triumph.

Yesterday's magical reunion of the boys of '78 - Thirty Years of Honour - also provided a chance to pay homage to the great Sir Bobby Robson, whose moving speech to the legions of Blues followers from the Town Hall balcony brought a tear to the eye.

Fans roared and chanted the names of their Wembley heroes as one by one, they took the microphone to recall their memories of May 6, 1978.

But the loudest cheer was reserved for Sir Bobby, an adopted son of Ipswich and the man who put its football club firmly on the football map.

Bravely battling cancer for the fifth time, the dignity, pride, and warmth which have become the former Town manager's hallmarks were there for all to see.

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Recognition of his importance to Ipswich was made by the mayor, Inga Lockington, who presented Sir Bobby with the freedom of the borough, before paying tribute to his and the team's remarkable feat.

Considered by many to be the father-figure of English football, Sir Bobby said: “To see everybody together again is wonderful. It's a fantastic turnout and takes me back 30 years.

“It was a long time ago - many of the players haven't changed and they're still very young and fit.

“We had a lovely team spirit - that will never break up. We had great team morale, we had good players and quality on the pitch of course, but that was a huge reason behind out success.

“In the final itself we were the better side but just couldn't score. I wondered if we would score or if we would get robbed. But once Roger got the ball over the line I knew that we would hold out.

“The team really deserved the victory. The worry was we had played so well but we still weren't in a winning position. Fortunately it didn't change and we kept going until the end and played some quality football.”

The former England, Barcelona and Newcastle boss also told of his pride at receiving the freedom of Ipswich.

“This is a great day in my life and it's a great pleasure for me to be here,” he said.

“I'm overwhelmed to receive the freedom of the borough - it's a great honour for me and an honour I respect.”

The players, many of whom had not seen one another for years, met at Suffolk's home of football, Portman Road, for probably the final cup reunion.

From there, they were transported by open top bus around the town, their parade greeted by countless numbers of fans who had made the effort to honour Sir Bobby's boys.

But the jam-packed Cornhill which eagerly awaited their arrival left the squad dumfounded.

So keen were supporters to acknowledge the team, that the 5,000-person capacity was quickly reached, meaning many more had to be turned away. Blue and white flags, banners and scarves turned the town square into a shrine to the town's football club.

A deeply moved Kevin Beattie said: “It's amazing that it's been 30 years since the win and we're still getting the same response - you couldn't ask for any more.

“Ipswich isn't the biggest place in the world but it has got the greatest fans and they never forget you - that's what it's all about.”

What was your reaction to yesterday's celebrations? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks described the incredible scenes as thousands flocked to the Thirty Years of Honour event as phenomenal.

The 1978 cup-winners were met with a sea of blue and white on a day charged with emotion.

Sheepshanks said: “The supporters have been phenomenal - and that's just what Sir Bobby is.

“In the history of this proud football club, none of us will ever forget Sir Alf Ramsey's amazing achievements but what Sir Bobby did for the club, the town and the county was utterly remarkable.

“To finish in the top six in nine out of ten seasons - and the only season we weren't in the top six was when we won the FA Cup - is a legendary feat.

“Between 1972 and 1982, Ipswich would have been in the Champions League in seven of those years. I think that says it all.

“We often deal in clichés but Sir Bobby Robson is genuinely a legend in his own lifetime.

“He put Ipswich Town on the map, for the world to see.

“We should not forget his players who were the stars on the day. But I think we are particularly here to pay tribute to our own club president - and for me, the president of Ipswich.”

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