9:00 am – I woke up, despite setting my alarm for twenty five-past, but I knew I had some last-minute packing to do, although I had done most of it the night before. Even though I was only staying two nights, like usual, I seemed to pack way too much – this included three pairs of shoes when I knew I’d only be wearing one and ‘going out’ clothes when I knew we weren’t likely to properly go out!10:00 am – I left home for Shenfield station and my poor mum who was in her dressing gown at such an hour on a Saturday morning had the privilege of taking me. Although the train wasn’t to depart until 10:25, the traffic down Shenfield is often pretty bad, and there are currently temporary traffic lights in place, in a three-way system! I also needed to buy my tickets (an open return, costing £17.45) and buy Jake a birthday card.
10:25 am – the train left the platform, and as usual would be an hour – stopping off at about seven other stations on the way. I try and get the straight train as getting off and changing with so many bags is way too much effort. There isn’t much to do at either Chelmsford or Colchester and the latter is a complete nightmare to get off at as the connecting train usually departs a minute after the initial train arrives (and as you can imagine running with two/three bags, in the pouring rain in suede Ugg boots isn’t much fun!). I had my iPod and phone to keep me occupied anyway, and the journey isn’t usually bad.11:30 am – I arrived in Ipswich five minutes later than scheduled and got a taxi from the station to Jake’s house. His mum often meets me at the station but that morning she’d gone to get her hair done – not that I mind getting a cab anyway; he only lives about 10 minutes away. The driver was a right character as well –although slightly annoying because that 10 minute journey ended up being 25, with a two mile detour because of road works or something (I couldn’t be bothered to ask!)
11:55 am – I arrived at Jake’s and unpacked. Unpacked is a word I use loosely, as it generally means open both bags and throw a few bits here and there. We didn’t really do an awful lot, but were planning to go into town to grab something to eat and meet his friend Joe.1:20 pm – we got a lift into town off Jake’s dad, but weren’t meeting Joe until two, which was when he finished work, so we walked through town in search of something to eat. We ended up going to the Hot Sausage Company for hot dogs. It was basically a little wooden cart with a boy grilling sausages in an old fashioned apron and straw hat – so cute! I just had a normal one with ketchup and Jake had the works: onions, cheese and ketchup! They were proper sausages as well, really yummy and fresh. We ate them whilst walking through town and towards Sainsbury’s where Joe works. We then bought drinks and waited for Joe.
2:00 pm – We met Joe and then made our way to Portman Road. We had to go and get our tickets beforehand anyway, and the boys wanted to get there early as there was loads going on pre-match (but more about that later!). As we walked through the car park at Portman Road it felt a little surreal, it had been a while since I’d seen so many cars and people outside a football stadium. There were people queuing for food, tickets and programmes and others just generally standing around waiting. When you’re used to crowds below 2,000, it’s quite overwhelming – although I have been to the likes of Old Trafford and Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, where of course there are thousands more. We got our tickets after waiting for five minutes or so and then made our way towards the turnstiles and to our seats. After tweeting about my PR debut, I had people asking me where I was sitting – “Upper tier, Sir Bobby Robson” was my answer, it meant absolutely nothing to me. We had to go up about three flights of stairs to get to where we were seated – no such luxury as that at Underhill!2:40 pm – before kick off the south stand (opposite where we sat) was renamed and unveiled to the fans as the Sir Alf Ramsey stand. The squad of 1961/62 were there for the official unveiling and led out the celebrations. With it being the 50th anniversary of when they won the League in the top flight of football at their first attempt. The team also showed off their trophy as they entered the pitch.
The match – it made a change for me to see the ball being played on the floor, and although Jake said it wasn’t a good game, when you’re used to watching Barnet, anything would look good. Town should have been at least three goals up before half time – like Barnet, creating plenty of chances but having the inability to finish. There was a heart-stopping moment when Arran Lee-Barrett in the Ipswich goal spilt a tame ball, only just managing to save it before it crept across the line. Chopra didn’t really do an awful lot, and was eventually subbed. Another thing: Jay Emmanuel-Thomas isn’t very good in the air, but the keeper and defence insisted on lumping it to him – it proved ineffective. Barnsley were absolutely woeful and only brought 198 fans – terrible! Most teams in League Two have better support – even on Tuesday nights!5:20 pm – we went to Pizza Express after the game and although when we arrived we were practically the only couple in there, it soon got busier with people coming after the game as well. As Monday was Jake’s birthday they emailed him with a deal: a free bottle of wine or prosecco with a meal. Jake doesn’t drink either, but I thought it rude to decline so opted for the prosecco (it was more expensive as well, so result!). I had a good go at drinking the whole bottle, but by the time dessert came, I was full (and the bubbles had gone to my head!). As usual we shared dough balls to start; I then had my usual pizza – Pollo Ad Astra Leggera with light house dressing on the rocket. To finish, we shared the fudge glory sundae. It was a lovely evening and the atmosphere was decent, although I prefer the restaurant on the docks which is where we normally go and is a beautiful setting. From here, we went back to Jake’s and watched the football in bed, rock ‘n’ roll, I know!
And much to everyone’s disappointment, I haven’t quite converted to being a Tractor Girl yet and it was back to Underhill last night to watch the Bees play Swindon… although on reflection, I wish I’d been anywhere else!