Ipswich Town F.C.

Ipswich Town
Full name Ipswich Town Football Club
Nickname(s) The Blues, The Tractor Boys
Short name Ipswich
Founded 1878 (1878)
Ground Portman Road
Ground Capacity 30,311[1]
Owner Marcus Evans
Manager Mick McCarthy
League Championship
2015–16 Championship, 7th
Website Club home page

Ipswich Town Football Club (/ˈɪpswɪ ˈtn/; also known as Ipswich, The Blues, Town, or The Tractor Boys) is a professional association football club based in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. They play in the Championship, the second highest division in English football, having last appeared in the Premier League in the 2001–02 season.

The club was founded in 1878 but did not turn professional until 1936, and was subsequently elected to join the Football League in 1938. They play their home games at Portman Road in Ipswich. The only fully professional football club in Suffolk, they have a long-standing and fierce rivalry with Norwich City in Norfolk, with whom they have contested the East Anglian derby 139 times since 1902.[2] The club's traditional home colours are blue shirts and white shorts.

Ipswich have won the English league title once, in their first season in the top flight in 1961–62, and have twice finished runners-up, in 1980–81 and 1981–82. They won the FA Cup in 1977–78, and the UEFA Cup in 1980–81. They have competed in the top two tiers of English football uninterrupted since 1957–58, currently the longest streak among Championship clubs after Coventry were relegated in the 2011–12 season. They have competed in all three European club competitions, and have never lost at home in European competition, defeating Real Madrid, AC Milan, Internazionale, Lazio and Barcelona F.C., among others.[3]


For the history of matches versus local rivals Norwich City F.C., see East Anglian derby.

Early years and entry to the Football League

The club was founded as an amateur side in 1878 and were known as Ipswich A.F.C. until 1888 when they merged with Ipswich Rugby Club to form Ipswich Town Football Club.[4] The team won a number of local cup competitions, including the Suffolk Challenge Cup and the Suffolk Senior Cup.[5] They joined the Southern Amateur League in 1907 and, with results improving steadily, became champions in the 1921–22 season.[6] The club won the league a further three times, in 1929–30, 1932–33 and 1933–34, before becoming founder members of the Eastern Counties Football League at the end of the 1934–35 season. A year later, the club turned professional and joined the Southern League, which they won in its first season and finished third in the next.[7]

Ipswich were elected to The Football League on 30 May 1938, and played in Division Three (South) until the end of the 1953–54 season, when they won the title and promotion to Division Two.

Promotion and instant First Division success

The club were immediately relegated back to Division Three (South) the following year at the end of a poor season, but made better progress after Scott Duncan was replaced as team manager by Alf Ramsey in August 1955. The club won the Division Three (South) title again in 1956–57, and returned to the higher division. This time, Ipswich established themselves in Division Two, and as the division champions, won promotion to the top level of English football, Division One, in 1960–61.[7]

Ipswich – AC Milan 1962–63 European Cup programme, on display at the San Siro museum in 2005

In the top flight for the first time, Ipswich became Champions of the Football League at the first attempt in 1961–62.[7] As English league champions, they qualified for the 1962–63 European Cup, defeating Maltese side Floriana 14–1 on aggregate before losing to Milan.[7] Ramsey quit the club in April 1963 to take charge of the England national team; after the team won the 1966 World Cup, he received a knighthood for "services to football" in 1967.[8]

Decline and revival after Ramsey

Ramsey was replaced by Jackie Milburn,[7] under whose leadership fortunes on the pitch plummeted. Two years after winning the league title, Ipswich slipped down to the Second Division in 1964, conceding 121 league goals in 42 games – one of the worst-ever defensive records in English senior football.[9] Milburn quit after just one full season and was replaced by Bill McGarry in 1964.[7] The club remained in the Second Division for four years until McGarry guided Ipswich to promotion along with his assistant Sammy Chung in the 1967–68 season, winning the division by a single point ahead of Queens Park Rangers.[10] McGarry left to manage Wolves and was replaced by Bobby Robson in January 1969.[7]

The Bobby Robson era

Robson led Ipswich to two major trophies and several seasons in top flight European football. The successful period began in 1973 when the club won the Texaco Cup and finished fourth in the league, qualifying for the UEFA Cup for the first time. By the late 1970s, Robson had built a strong side with talent in every department, introducing the Dutch pair Arnold Mühren and Frans Thijssen to add flair to a team that featured British internationals including John Wark, Terry Butcher and Paul Mariner, although the Ipswich squad perhaps lacked the depth of established big clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United. Ipswich regularly featured in the top five of the league and in the UEFA Cup.[11] At their peak in the 1979–80 season, they beat Manchester United 6–0 in a league game at Portman Road, a game where United goalkeeper Gary Bailey also saved three penalties. The defeat cost United two points – the margin which eventually separated them and champions Liverpool.[12] Major success came in 1978 when Ipswich beat Arsenal at Wembley Stadium to win their only FA Cup trophy,[13] the triumph was followed by a UEFA Cup victory in 1981. The club also finished as league runners-up in 1981 and 1982.[14][15][16]

Robson's success with Ipswich had attracted the attention of many bigger clubs, and he had been linked with the Manchester United job when Dave Sexton was sacked in May 1981, but the job went to Ron Atkinson instead. It was the Football Association who lured Robson away from Portman Road a year later, when he accepted their offer to manage the England national team in July 1982.

Relegation after Robson and promotion under Lyall

His successor at Ipswich was his assistant manager Bobby Ferguson.[7] Under Ferguson, Town finished mid-table twice,[17][18] but worsening performances meant that they began to struggle in the top division. The recent construction of an expensive new stand at Portman Road had limited the club's budget, despite the money gaining from sales of key players including Frans Thijssen and John Wark.

Ipswich were finally relegated to the Second Division at the end of the 1985–86 season. Terry Butcher, their last remaining key player from the successful 1981 team, was sold to Rangers that summer.[19][20] Ferguson, who had remained in charge despite the relegation, resigned in May 1987 after reaching the promotion play-offs but failing to return the club to the first division.[7] Ipswich Town were then managed by John Duncan for three years until he was replaced by former West Ham boss John Lyall in May 1990, with Ipswich still in the Second Division.[21] Lyall guided Ipswich to the Second Division title and promotion to the new FA Premier League, ready for the 1992–93 season.[22] Suffering only two league defeats before the New Year,[23] Ipswich started the season well and were fourth in the Premier League in January 1993, but a dip in form during the final weeks of the season saw Ipswich finish in a disappointing 16th place.[24] Poor form continued into the following season and Ipswich only avoided relegation that year when Sheffield United suffered a last-gasp 3–2 defeat at Chelsea on the final day of the season.[22] Six months later, fortunes on the pitch had not improved, and Lyall was sacked as Ipswich manager in December 1994 with the club rooted to the bottom of the Premiership.

Relegation and revival under George Burley

Lyall's successor, George Burley, was unable to turn team performances around, and Ipswich suffered a Premiership record defeat, 9–0, at Manchester United, on their way to relegation.[25][26] Back in the second tier of the league, Burley led the club to three consecutive promotion playoffs, but they were to endure defeats in all three semi-finals. Ipswich finally returned to the Premiership in 2000 after coming from behind to beat Barnsley 4–2 in the last Division One playoff final at Wembley Stadium.[7] Ipswich performed well in the Premiership in their first season with Burley's side finishing in an impressive fifth place—being pipped by Liverpool on the last day of the season for a place in the Champions League. Consolation was a UEFA Cup place and FA Premier League Manager of the Year Award for Burley.[27]

This spell in the top division ended after two seasons and the loss of income due to relegation led to the club going into financial administration.[28] There was the minor consolation of again qualifying for the UEFA Cup, this time via the UEFA Fair Play ranking, and Ipswich survived two ties before losing in the second round proper to Czech side Slovan Liberec.[29] A poor start to the season, culminating in a 0–3 defeat at struggling Grimsby Town, meant that Burley was sacked in October 2002 after nearly eight years as manager.[30]

Since 2002

First team coach Tony Mowbray was given four games as caretaker manager, winning once, but he was ultimately replaced as manager by the former Oldham Athletic, Everton and Manchester City manager Joe Royle, who had played for local rival Norwich City.[31] Royle inherited a side struggling near the Division One relegation zone, but revived fortunes such that the team narrowly failed to reach the playoffs.[32] The 2003–04 season saw the club come out of administration and continue to challenge for promotion back to the Premier League.[33] They finished that season in fifth, but were defeated in the playoff semi-finals by West Ham United.[34]

Narrowly missing automatic promotion in 2004–05, Royle again took Ipswich to the play-offs, but once more they lost to West Ham United in the semi-finals.[35] 2005–06 saw Ipswich finish in 15th place—the club's lowest finish since 1966.[36] Joe Royle resigned by mutual consent on 11 May 2006,[37] and a month later, Jim Magilton was officially announced as the new manager.[38] In November 2007, the club were involved in takeover discussions with both businessman Marcus Evans and former Birmingham City director David Sullivan.[39][40] In December 2007, Evans completed his takeover of the club, purchasing an 87.5% stake in the club, investing around £44 million, which included the purchase of the club's existing £32 million debt.[41] The club agreed a sponsorship deal with the Marcus Evans Group on 20 May 2008, lasting until 2013, the longest in the club's history.[42] Magilton was sacked in April 2009, and new Chief Executive Simon Clegg replaced him with Roy Keane.[43] Keane's spell as manager came to an end after an unsuccessful 18 months, when he was sacked in January 2011, to be replaced briefly by Ian McParland in a caretaker role before Paul Jewell took the reins on a permanent basis.[44] With Ipswich bottom of the Championship, Jewell left his position on 24 October 2012 by mutual consent.[45] He was replaced temporarily by Chris Hutchings for a single match in a caretaker role, before Mick McCarthy was appointed full-time on 1 November 2012.[46] McCarthy led Ipswich to avoid relegation, taking them from bottom of the league in November to finish in 14th position,[47] 9th the following season[48] and in 2014–15 a 6th-place finish and playoff semi-final exit at the hands of local rivals Norwich City.[49] In the 2015–16 season, Ipswich failed to replicate their success of the previous season and finished 7th, their third consecutive top ten finish since McCarthy took over as manager.

Colours and crest

One of Ipswich Town's nicknames is The Blues, stemming from their traditional kit, which is predominantly blue. Since turning professional, Ipswich have used a number of away colours, including white, orange, red and black vertical stripes, claret and green, cream and black vertical stripes and dark blue and claret.[50]

Ipswich's orange away kit used during the 1999–2000 season

The shirts worn by players of Ipswich Town did not sport a crest until the mid-1960s, when they adopted a design featuring a gold lion rampant guardant on a red background on the left half and three gold ramparts on a blue background on the right half.[50] In 1972, the crest was redesigned as the result of a competition, won by the Treasurer of the Supporters Club, John Gammage. Each element of the new design was intended to represent the region.[51]

I regarded the Suffolk Punch as a noble animal, well suited to dominate our design and represent the club. And to complete the badge I thought of the town of Ipswich which contains many historical buildings, including the Wolsey Gate, and is close to the sea with a large dock area.

The crest was modified in 1995 after consultation with a Supporters Forum, with the turrets of the Wolsey Gate moved to the top of the crest, the yellow background changed to red, the Suffolk Punch given a more dominant physique and the F.C. expanded to Football Club. Three stars were added to the sleeve of the team's away shirt for the 2004–05 season,[52] and also to the home kit for the 2005–06 season.[53] These stars were added to represent the three major trophies which Ipswich Town have won; the FA Cup, the UEFA Cup and the old Division One. The stars were relocated directly above the crest when the shirt was redesigned prior to the 2007–08 season.[54]

In 2006, the club donated 500 orange and blue-and-white shirts to children in Iraq.[55]


Aerial view of Portman Road

Between 1878 and 1884, Ipswich Town played at two grounds in the town, Broom Hill and Brook's Hall,[56] but in 1884, the club moved to Portman Road and have played there ever since.[1] At their new home, Ipswich became one of the first clubs to implement the use of goal nets, in 1890,[1] but the more substantial elements of ground development did not begin until, in 1901, a tobacco processing plant was built along the south edge of the ground.

The first stand, a wooden structure, was built on the Portman Road side of the pitch in 1905. In 1911 the roof was blown off,[1] and the ground was later commandeered by the British Army for the duration of World War I. The club turned professional in 1936, and work began on the first bank of terracing at the north end of the pitch. The following year, on the back of winning the Southern League, a similar terrace was built at the southern "Churchmans" end.[I] All sides were terraced by 1954, and floodlights were erected in 1959 for use in lower light conditions.[1] The two-tier Portman Stand was built along the east side of the ground in place of the existing terraces in 1971, and the West Stand was extended in 1982 by the addition of a third tier. The rebuilt West Stand was renamed as the "Pioneer Stand" as a result of the club's sponsorship by the electronics company Pioneer Corporation and was converted to all-seating in 1990.[1] In 1990, following the recommendations of the Taylor Report in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster the previous year, the terraces in both the north and south stands were also converted to all-seating, creating the first complete all-seater stadium in the top flight of English football with a spectator capacity of 22,600.[1]

Success on the pitch led to further investment in the infrastructure, with the club spending over £22 million on redeveloping both North and South stands, resulting in a current capacity of 30,311. In the past ten years, statues of both Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson have been unveiled outside the stadium.[57][58] The North Stand was renamed in honour of former manager Bobby Robson in September 2009. On 31 March 2012, in conjunction with celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Ipswich Town winning the 1st Division on their 1st attempt, the South Stand was renamed in honour of Ipswich and England's former manager Sir Alf Ramsey. Portman Road now features two stands named after their own most successful managers in the club history as well as being England's most successful managers. The playing surface at Portman Road is highly regarded and has been voted best pitch in the league on a number of occasions.[59] The former groundsman, Alan Ferguson, received a number of accolades, including both Premiership and Championship Groundsman of the Year.[60][61]


Average and peak attendances from 1936

During the 2008–09 season, Ipswich Town recorded an average attendance of 18,873, approximately 63% of available capacity, the seventh-highest attendance in The Championship.[62] The highest attendance of the season was 28,274 in the local derby against Norwich City.[63]

Locally, much is made of the informal title "Pride of Anglia". Fans claim the title for either winning the East Anglian Derby, finishing highest in the league, having the better current league position, having the more successful club history. The club's main local rival is Norwich City. When the two teams meet it is known as the 'East Anglian derby', or, informally, as the 'Old Farm derby', a comic reference to the 'Old Firm Derby' played between Scottish teams Celtic and Rangers.[64]

A recent nickname for Town is "The Tractor Boys", which was coined during the club's brief period in the Premiership (2000–01 and 2001–02) when the team regularly competed against more fashionable clubs. The nickname is an example of self-deprecating humour referring to Ipswich's agricultural heritage.[65] The origins of the nickname are not certain, but the first generally accepted use of the nickname was created whilst playing at Leeds United in 2000–2001: Ipswich were winning the game 2–1 and the Leeds fans started chanting, 'We're being beaten by a bunch of tractor drivers.' Barracking by supporters of more established Premiership clubs during Town's spell in the Premiership lent the ironic chant '1–0 to the Tractor Boys' increased potency and publicity, and the nickname is commonly used by the media.[66][67] Former Town manager Jim Magilton commented, in the local press, that he disliked the nickname and said that it conjured up, 'images of carrot-crunching yokels',[65] while players such as Matt Holland accepted the chant with good humour.

Statistics and records

For more details on this topic, see List of Ipswich Town F.C. records and statistics.
League positions since 1938–39 season

Mick Mills holds the record for Ipswich league appearances, having played 591 first-team matches between 1966 and 1982. The club's top league goalscorer is Ray Crawford, who scored 203 goals between 1958 and 1969, while Ted Phillips holds the record for the most goals scored in a season, 41 in the 1956–57 season in Division Three (South). Allan Hunter is the most capped player for the club, making 47 appearances for Northern Ireland.

The club's widest victory margins in the league have been their 7–0 wins against Portsmouth in the Second Division in 1964, against Southampton in the First Division in 1974 and against West Bromwich Albion in the First Division in 1976. Their heaviest defeats in the league were 10–1 against Fulham in 1963 and 9–0 against Manchester United in 1995.

Ipswich's record home attendance is 38,010 for a sixth round FA Cup match against Leeds United on 8 March 1975. With the introduction of regulations enforcing all-seater stadiums, it is unlikely that this record will be beaten in the foreseeable future.

The highest transfer fee received for an Ipswich player is £8.1 million as part of a deal worth in excess of £12 million from Sunderland for Connor Wickham in June 2011,[68] while the most spent by the club on a player was £4.75 million for Matteo Sereni from Sampdoria in July 2001, following the club's qualification for the UEFA Cup.[69]


As of 28 August 2016.[70]

First team squad

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 England GK Dean Gerken
3 Denmark DF Jonas Knudsen
4 England DF Luke Chambers (Captain)
5 New Zealand DF Tommy Smith
6 Scotland DF Christophe Berra
7 England MF Teddy Bishop
8 England MF Cole Skuse
9 Republic of Ireland FW Leon Best
10 Republic of Ireland FW David McGoldrick
11 Jersey FW Brett Pitman
12 England FW Luke Varney
14 England DF Paul Digby
15 England DF Adam Webster
16 England MF Giles Coke
17 Mauritius MF Kévin Bru
18 England MF Grant Ward
19 England MF Luke Hyam
No. Position Player
20 England FW Freddie Sears
21 Wales MF Jonny Williams (on loan from Crystal Palace)
22 Republic of Ireland MF Jonathan Douglas
23 England MF Andre Dozzell
24 England MF James Blanchfield
25 Republic of Ireland FW Shane McLoughlin
26 Republic of Ireland MF Adam McDonnell
27 Wales MF Tom Lawrence (on loan from Leicester City)
28 England MF Conor Grant (on loan from Everton)
29 England DF Josh Emmanuel
30 England DF Myles Kenlock
31 England MF Kundai Benyu
32 England FW Ben Morris
33 Poland GK Bartosz Białkowski
34 England DF Joe Robinson (on loan to Boston United)
38 Wales GK Michael Crowe

Players of the Year

Towards the end of each season, a player is voted as "Player of the Year" by the fans. For the 2015–16 season, the player of the year is goalkeeper Bartosz Białkowski.[71] Białkowski is the fourth goalkeeper to win the award and the first winner from Poland.[71]


As of 2016, the club runs a Category Two Academy, with a five-year plan to improve to Category One, and is run by Bryan Klug.[72] The academy was particularly successful in the 1990s, producing a number of first-team players including Richard Wright, Titus Bramble and Kieron Dyer.[73] More recently, Andre Dozzell, son of Jason Dozzell, has graduated from the academy, going on to score in his debut for the club in 2016.[74][75]


As of 9 October 2016. Only permanent managers are shown.
NameNationalityFromToMWDLWin %
O'Brien, MickMick O'Brien  Ireland 29 May 1936 11 August 1937 39 25 9 5 64.1
Duncan, ScottScott Duncan  Scotland 12 November 1937 7 August 1955 505 205 113 187 40.6
Ramsey, AlfAlf Ramsey  England 8 August 1955 30 April 1963 369 176 75 118 47.7
Milburn, JackieJackie Milburn  England 1 May 1963 8 September 1964 56 11 12 33 19.6
McGarry, BillBill McGarry  England 5 October 1964 23 November 1968 196 80 62 54 40.8
Robson, BobbyBobby Robson  England 13 January 1969 18 August 1982 709 316 173 220 44.6
Ferguson, BobbyBobby Ferguson  England 19 August 1982 17 May 1987 258 97 61 100 37.6
Duncan, JohnJohn Duncan  Scotland 17 June 1987 5 May 1990 161 73 29 59 45.3
Lyall, JohnJohn Lyall  England 11 May 1990 5 December 1994 231 77 75 79 33.3
Burley, GeorgeGeorge Burley  Scotland 28 December 1994 11 October 2002 413 188 96 129 45.5
Royle, JoeJoe Royle  England 28 October 2002 11 May 2006 189 81 48 60 42.9
Magilton, JimJim Magilton  Northern Ireland 5 June 2006 22 April 2009 148 56 41 51 37.8
Keane, RoyRoy Keane  Ireland 23 April 2009 7 January 2011 81 28 25 28 34.6
Jewell, PaulPaul Jewell  England 13 January 2011 24 October 2012 85 29 18 38 34.1
McCarthy, MickMick McCarthy  Ireland 1 November 2012 Present 202 80 59 63 39.6


For more details on this topic, see History of Ipswich Town F.C..
Honour Year(s)
Football League champions 1961–62[11]
Old Second Division champions 1960–61, 1967–68, 1991–92
First Division Play-off Champions 1999–2000
Old Third Division South champions 1953–54, 1956–57
Southern League champions 1936–37
FA Cup winners 1977–78
FA Youth Cup winners 1972–73, 1974–75, 2004–05
UEFA Cup winners 1980–81
Amsterdam Tournament 1981
Texaco Cup winners 1972–73
Suffolk Premier Cup winners 1967–68, 1968–69, 1969–70, 2006–07, 2009–10
Suffolk Senior Cup winners 1886–87, 1888–89, 1889–90, 1895–96, 1899–1900, 1903–04, 1904–05, 1905–06,
1906–07, 1907–08, 1911–12, 1912–13, 1913–14, 1927–28, 1928–29, 1929–30

Ipswich Town in popular culture

A number of Ipswich players appeared alongside Sylvester Stallone and Pelé in the 1981 prisoner of war film Escape to Victory, including John Wark, Russell Osman, Robin Turner, Laurie Sivell, and Kevin O'Callaghan. Other Ipswich Town players stood in for actors in the football scenes—Kevin Beattie for Michael Caine, and Paul Cooper for Sylvester Stallone.[76]

Ipswich Town Ladies

A ladies team affiliated with the club, Ipswich Town L.F.C., currently compete in the FA Women's Premier League South East Division 1, the fourth tier of Women's football in the country. They play their home games at Rushmere Sports Club.[77]


I^ : Up until 2000, when the stand was completely rebuilt, it was commonly referred to as "Churchmans" after the family who owned the tobacco factory (before John Players Ltd) which stood next to it.


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  75. "Sheffield Wednesday 1–1 Ipswich Town". BBC Sport. 16 April 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  76. King, Elvin (23 March 2011). "Town players in 'Escape to Victory' reunion". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  77. "Ladies team". Ipswich Town F.C. Retrieved 23 January 2015.

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