Behind enemy lines!
Unable to make the recent U's game with Cardiff due to a family party the opportunity came up to watch 'rivals' Ipswich in their home game against Burnley.
Now as a Colchester fan that follows them home and away I shouldn't be going to watch Ipswich should I? The reaction from my Colchester United supporting mates supported this. Every time the first reaction was 'traitor' but I explained that I would soon be back to watch the U's at Palace.
I'd been to watch Ipswich before and although I don't hate Ipswich I`ve always wanted their opposition to win. In fact before the game I`d made a promise to myself to politely clap if Ipswich score but have my own quiet celebration if it was Burnley.
We turned up at the stadium, and what a stadium. Although Portman Road is not one of the biggest in the country (although it's not exactly small) it is one of my favorites to go to. It`s all seated but still has managed to keep a lively atmosphere going. A rare thing these days.
I was taken first to the club shop which unlike our Portacabins is an impressive two story 'megastore'. We viewed the new kits which Town fans were voting for and then went upstairs to a balcony in the corner of the stadium which offered great views of the stadium. I really hope Cuckoo Farm has something similar.
We went to the turnstiles of the Brittania Stand. For those who don`t know the Brittania has a large Astroturf pitch behind it. Although the weather was hardly warm people were standing on this having a drink while the kids had a kickabout. Although it's hard to have something like this everywhere it is one of the things that help make the match day experience greater.
As we entered the stadium you can see how nice a stadium it is, a good PA system gets the crowd going and the atmosphere was building (although recent results had meant a smaller crowd than usual).
The match day host tried to get the crowd going before kick off by playing high beat songs such as 'Welcome to the Jungle' and the club song 'Singing the Blues' but recent results meant the crowd were anxious and unusually quite. Much different to the loud start we get at Layer Road!
One thing that did surprise me was the Portman Road pitch. Once the best in the league it is now patchy and cuts up VERY easily. My Ipswich supporting friend told me that the club was recommended a spray to put on it but it went wrong. Thank god for our pitch.
The game started brightly but the ball was bobbling everywhere a Town tried to play passing football.
0-0 half time seemed to be a fair score.
Second half and the pitch yet again played a part. Alan Lee was almost certain to score till a bobble lead to him sending his shot wide.
As darkness drew in the atmosphere rose as Ipswich started to pile pressure onto Burnley, who looking at the time wasting were playing for a draw.
Ipswich had lost their last three games to a last minute goal and in the 86th minute Burnley scored and a sense of Deja Vu ran around Portman Road. Town fans flooded out of the stadium.
Ipswich didn't give up though and equalised through an Alan Lee penalty in the 90th minute.
Call me a traitor or anything but I was gutted when Burnley scored and even cheered when Town equalised. They sure deserved it. A mixture of the town performance and Burnley time wasting angered me at the tought of Burnley taking all three points.
Ill always be a Colchester fan through and through but on 2nd December 2006 I realised that maybe Ipswich aren't as bad as I thought and my respect for the club grew.
Up the U's.