I have had two marriages in my life. One to Ipswich Town and the other to my wife. Is it time to put an end to all this bigamy and file for divorce? Now before you get the wrong idea, I am a happily married man. It is the other relationship that I am calling into question here.
For more than 50 years I have followed the Blues, and even before this Coronavirus struck, I was already experiencing the worst phase of my life as a true blue. Going down to this division was bad enough but then to see us fall away so dramatically after Christmas, and out of the play-off places, was quite frankly soul-destroying. At one stage we had games in hand and a seven-point lead at the top, but that was whittled away over time, and our poor form and injuries to key players did the rest. But we are now facing a double whammy and Covid-19 threatens to tear the lifeblood out of the game we love.
Terry Hunt, writing in the East Anglian Daily Times, is beginning to question his commitment to the cause as well and like me, he has followed the Blues diligently for more than half a century. In his North Stander column, he says this. The saddest thing of all is that when I talk to fellow Town fans, we pretty much all agree on one thing: We haven’t been missing football one little bit. It’s a sad indictment of the hugely dispiriting experience of being an Ipswich supporter in the last few years.
And that just about sums up how I feel as well. He chooses the perfect word to define clearly our current state of mind. ‘Dispirited’. I have never felt so low as this supporting the Tractor Boys and as Hunt points out, we are certainly not the only ones! Football has indeed taken supporters for granted for far too long, and the question that we all should be asking is will they ever get them back? The longer this delay goes on the worst things will get, and human nature being what it means is that we all adapt to our new environment, and start to take up other interests.
I would not dare to think too long about the number of hours I have spent either watching Ipswich in action or devoting large chunks of my life to them in other ways. I know that my other marriage is on a better footing now that I can afford more shopping time, without constantly looking at my watch each Saturday afternoon, as kick-off gets nearer and my impatience grows!
The divorce papers are on the table and although I have looked at them many times I am still reluctant to sign. How could I? It would feel like a death in the family if I was to part company with Ipswich Town. I have invested too much time and money, and even though this is the worst period in my love affair with the Blues, I am reminded too that the wedding vows we made were in sickness and in health.
Like the rest of the football world, Town might be in intensive care at the moment, but as long as they are still breathing I will remain faithful – no matter how painful this journey might turn out to be.