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Saturday 31st July 2021 ko 15:00

Eastern Counties League Premier Division

WHITTON UNITED 2 (Lucraft 36 Davis 70)

SWAFFHAM TOWN 1 (Linsdell 90)

Att 65 at King George V Playing Field, Whitton, Ipswich

Entry £7

Programme £1

With pyramid football restarting for the first time since December I’ll admit to approaching the whole thing with mixed feelings. I’d greatly enjoyed going “Off the beaten track” to find games, but regular travelling partner Chris Garner was correct, it was time to do some “Normal” hopping, and he had an idea…

The idea was something of a sentimental journey, Chris was brought up in the Whitton district of Ipswich so a trip to the local football club would be a return home for him and old schoolfriend Karl met him at the King George V Playing Fields and since the two of them hadn’t seen each other since 1987 there was plenty to catch up on!

That did include the reason why the Allied team in the film “Escape To Victory” had so many Ipswich Town players (John Wark, Russell Osman, Laurie Sivell, Robin Turner and Kevin O’Callaghan) in it. It was because apparently manager Bobby Robson knew someone in the production team and filming took place during the close season in 1980. I didn’t have the heart to tell Karl I’d seen a game at the ground where it was filmed.

If you’ve visited Ipswich then there’s a fair chance you’ve passed by the ground. The Bury Road is why the ground only has 3 sides open for spectators, but there is plenty to enthuse the visitor. A piece of advice I would give though is do allow plenty of time. For one thing a housing development has been built nearby and with several teams using the outside pitches the car park does get full quickly. Another is that the club has opted to take payment away from the gate.

The system is that you pay at the bar for entry (and the programme) – that does allow for card payments but it does funnel every patron through a busy clubhouse. There was a queue, but its a system that does have a point, but this isn’t the place to turn up 30 seconds before kick off.  I suspect at the country slowly exits pandemic restrictions the system will evolve. 

But why turn up at the last minute anyway? Because this is a place the begs to be explored, and unusually the outside is as interesting as within. Seek out the changing room block, and see how the club has managed to create a Pyramid-football compliant players tunnel to the main pitch while still allowing access to teams using the reserves’ pitch and other pitches beyond. It’s rather cleverly done! 

Other than that it was a pleasure to get back to the simple pleasures of enjoying a club slowly building their way up the pecking order. You sensed that they were finding their way after so long without competitive football, as to an extent I was. Whitton won, although that was down to two horrendous errors by the Swaffham keeper, I won’t embarrass him by naming him, but I’d also observe that even without the errors the right team won. 

I couldn’t begrudge Whitton that, they were and are a lovely club to visit. I’ll watch their progress with interest.