|Ipswich Town 3 v 2 Leeds United|
Sunday, 5th May 2019 Kick-off 12:30
Thursday, 2nd May 2019 12:25 by Tim Whelan
Our visit to Ipswich Town won’t now be the joyous occasion we were anticipating just a few weeks ago, but it’s not quite a dead rubber, as we still need a point to guarantee third place. Kick-off is at 12.30 on Sunday.
Portman Road is between the railway station and the town centre, and if you arrive by train it will be impossible to miss it, as it will be looming in front of you as you take the main exit from the station.
The most direct route from the north by car will be to take the A1156 exit from the A14 (signposted Ipswich West and North) then turning right after 2.5 miles onto the town's inner ring road. There have been know to be weekend roadworks on the A14, so you are advised to check @A14C2H on Twitter for the latest situation.
From the south you will approach on the A12 and you should take the A1214 on the edge of Ipswich and keep straight on when this road crosses the ring road and becomes Handford Road. There have been reports of away fans cars being damaged around the town, so you shouldn't leave anything in your cars which identifies them as coming from Leeds, including garage stickers.
If you get there early enough the best bet for parking will be the large car park in Portman Road itself, which on matchdays is only accessible from the top end (Handford Road.)Other options are to use the car parks on the railway station side of the ground. At the railway station itself there is a multi-storey which will cost you £2.70, and nearby on West End street is a large open air car park, which is £4 for four hours.
The main away supporters’ pub is now the Station Hotel near to the ground, which as the name suggests is just opposite the railway station. It usually gets packed out when we visit, but there is a second bar in the beer garden at the lower level, which also boasts an excellent view of the traffic cones that have been thrown into the river. Other pubs in the town, such as the Victoria, the Hare & Hounds and the Swan, are very much home pubs and are best avoided by away fans.
You could try the 'Punch and Judy' though they might turn you away if they realise you're a Leeds fan. This pub is in the 'cardinal park' complex in Grafton Street, which is about a 5 minute walk from the ground, and also has a car park and fast food outlets.The best of these is 'Ask Pizza', which Serves very good pasta & pizza. If you're approaching the ground from the railway station you can find the 'cardinal park' complex by turning right at the first set of traffic lights after you've crossed the river.
The best options in the town centre are ‘Lord Nelson’ in Fore Street, and the CAMRA listed ‘Dove Street Inn’ on St Helens Street. There are no takeaways immediately by the stadium, which is mainly surrounded by industrial premises and office blocks, though you will find a couple of burger vans in the car park near our turnstiles. Alcohol is normally available inside Portman Road, at the usual inflated football ground prices.
The club have increased the capacity to 30,311 in the years following the Taylor report, with the re-development of both ends as the former Churchmans and North terraces were replaced with larger stands. The Greene King (South) Stand and the North Stand are similar in appearance and size, with a larger upper tier which overhanging a smaller lower tier, and they dwarf the smaller older stands on each side of the ground.
The normal away allocation is 2,150, but after several years of some Leeds fans being unable to get tickets while large numbers of seats were unsold elsewhere in the ground, they finally decided to increase this to 3,500. And this time they went even further and gave us 4,000 (we have now got the whole Cobbold stand, including the small lower tier) though Ipswich only announced this once their relegation was confirmed, so this wouldn’t be a vital game for their own fans.
This had led to some Ipswich season ticket holders being displaced, and while this has led to some predictable moans, other Ipswich fans see this as being a sensible move to improve segregation and provide some much needed income for the home club. But it goes in hand with the strictest conditions I’ve ever seen for the home stands, with Ipswich selling one ticket each to those already on their database, with no option to buy extras.
And anyone found to have bought a ticket for a Leeds fan will be banned from purchasing in future, so if you are going to be watching from one of the home stands, you will need to avoid drawing attention to yourself. If you haven’t managed to get a ticket, the game is being shown live in the UK on LUTV (which they can do as it’s not a Saturday 3pm game) although Sky have opted for Derby v. WBA instead.
Our allocation was originally sold through the ‘attendance tracker’ loyalty scheme, and although some tickets were returned once we knew this wasn’t going to be a promotion-clincher, these have now been snapped up and currently there are none for sale on the official site. Many of us had already booked accommodation for the weekend, and weren’t going to change their plans, come what may.
Tickets cost either £30 or £35 for adults, dependent on which block they were in, with senior citizens at £22 or £24, under 23s at £15 and under 19s at £8. In the last couple of seasons Ipswich have run a scheme where they would offer cheaper tickets to away fans when the opposition offered Town fans a reduction for the corresponding fixture, but Leeds have been one of the clubs who didn’t play ball, so we have to pay the full price.
The Cobbold stand is now the oldest part of the ground, and the facilities within this stand are limited, so if you need some refreshments then it's best to get them before you enter the ground. The narrow corridors can get dangerously crowded at half-time, as this part of the ground was the main stand when it opened in 1971, so it was never designed to cope with away fans who would all stop for an extended refreshment break on the way down and so need to depart for the loos en masse to relieve themselves during the interval.
Also the seats within are rather crammed together, and can be a bit uncomfortable even for those with normal length legs. Or at least they would be cramped if we ever sat down! After the game the police will block off the bottom of Portman Road to segregate the two sets of fans while the Leeds fans go back the coaches in the adjacent car park, which will delay anyone wanting to go back to the railway station.
I don't normally bother to repeat the record attendance information that clubs put on their official websites, but in this case I'll make an exception. The record attendance at Portman Road is 38,010 for an FA Cup 6th Round tie on March 8th 1975, against the greatest team of that era, who went on to reach that season's European Cup final. Happy days!
They might have a go at beating that record one day, and the club are hoping to re-develop the Cobbold Stand at some stage to boost the capacity of the ground to 40,000. However this is unlikely to happen unless Ipswich can establish themselves as a Premier League Club, which could take a while now that they are heading in the opposite direction.
Ipswich is always one of the more enjoyable away trips, but who knows how long it will be before Leeds are back in these parts again.
Some of this stuff came from www.footballgroundguide.com .
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