“What I know most surely about morality and the duty of man - I owe to football.”
                                                                                                                                              Albert Camus

HOW heartening it was to see so many people make a stand against the rioters and looters this week.

Everyday folk appalled by the scenes on our television, and for some in their homes, businesses or neighbourhoods, reacted in a variety of ways from helping in the clean up, acting as guardian angels, or making tea for the coppers who eventually got to grips with the mindless thugs and criminals engaged in these despicable activities.

For me, the courage and dignity of Muslim Tariq Jahan whose son died in his arms after a hit and run in Birmingham as three young men died protecting their neighbourhood stood out.

I have no doubt his impassioned speech hours after losing Haroon, his 21-year-old son, prevented further bloodshed.

To a lesser degree, and clearly not connected to the incidents which blighted out streets, Elizabeth Edwards’ appeal in the club programme, and read out at half-time, was a courageous stand against the mindless, offensive and let us be honest, criminal behaviour, which pervades Ipswich Town games and many of our football grounds week in week out.

Liz, the chair of the Official Supporters Club, made it clear that the decent follower of football, and the Blues in particular, are fed up with witnessing and listening to the bad language, homophobic and racist chants and disgusting behaviour of a minority of people who claim to be Town fans.

She called for a return to the respectful attitude and behaviour for which Ipswich Town is famed and respected for, virtually the world over.

While there is no doubt the majority of Town, and indeed football, fans agree with her, sadly her call has been met with derision in certain quarters and when the message was read out at half-time some in the North Stand booed, although that reaction was countered by a round of applause from the other three stands.      

In the interest of fairness I looked and asked around other Town fans and made a rare visit to the TWTD website in order to research the reaction to Liz’s heart-felt, and sadly much-needed, plea.

Clearly many Town fans back her but the negativity on that particular site to her request for Ipswich fans to show basic respect for football, fellow supporters and the opposition didn’t particularly surprise me.

It served only to show that many people, not all, who use that forum, are not representative of true Blues supporters, football fans in general and decent human beings. Little wonder the more sensible Town fans prefer to get their information, vent their feelings and generally follow the club, elsewhere – and there are increasing alternatives.

Decent fans, and we are not just talking Ipswich here but fair play to Liz and the official supporters club for making this stand, are fed up with the boorish behaviour of yobs purporting to be supporters, using a football match as an excuse to swear, air racist or homophobic views, show aggression and just generally act in a cowardly manner fuelled by safety in numbers, alcohol or drugs or just sheer childish stupidity.

I took my son to his first game in pre-season friendly and even though I had asked to go into a ‘family enclosure’ we were sat a few rows in front of a bunch of morons whose bad language and abuse shamed the club as much as the booing when the game was abandoned due to a Colchester United player’s injury.     

It is my hope that Liz’s message is followed up by tougher action by stewards and officials at the club, that decent supporters dob in those who ignore the regulations in place and a serious crackdown is enforced – not just at Portman Road but throughout the country.

This is our game – let us reclaim it for the decent supporter.


Here is Liz’s message in full.


This is the first time I have ever asked Simon Clegg to agree my column before it is published. Read on and you will understand why.

I am proud to be an Ipswich fan – I am proud of our heritage and historic success, and I am proud of the way, as fans, we have kept loyal despite it being the best (or worst) part of a decade since we played in the Premier League.

Like many other fans, I follow Town home and away, not discriminating between the glitz of the Emirates and the somewhat more historic ‘charms’ of Selhurst Park. I also go to a lot of other games, around the world, both club matches and internationals.

And there is one thing that I always notice about following Ipswich – that makes us stand out from most others. It’s a simple thing, but it’s vital, and it is called respect.

Respect means knowing not to cross the line between ‘banter’ and ‘abuse’. It means avoiding racist, homophobic or obviously offensive chants. It means sitting down in the right seat, when stewards, police or other fans ask you to do so. It means making sure that anyone can happily follow Town, whatever their age, from the youngest to the oldest, from teenager to parent.

Sadly, over the last year or two, but especially recently, I have been getting a lot of complaints - from people who have been going home and away for years and from others who are just getting the habit.

They are all complaining about one, tiny group of antisocial so-called fans. Most of the time, their behaviour is low-level annoying (inane and sometimes abusive chanting) but occasionally it breaks out into more serious stuff, such as letting off smoke bombs, abusing police, stewards and other fans, let alone their ignorant and disgusting booing following the serious injury to Colchester player Andy Bond the other week.

They know who they are, and if you go to away games, especially, you will know who they are too. And, like me, you would be pretty upset to hear some of the complaints that I get.

I never, ever again want to get the kind of phone call that followed the Col U game. One of our most loyal fans, a friend to many of us, who called me straight after the game and said, “Tonight, I am ashamed to call myself an Ipswich fan”.

So, I have a message for that little group. The club are watching every move you make, because they don’t want that kind of fan. As a Supporters’ Club, we don’t want that kind of fan either – your silly childish behaviour, and your style of ‘support’ that is making others think twice about going to games.

Because of you, and your behaviour, we risk losing the kind of policing style that is reserved only for those who know how to behave and respect others. So, I'll give you a choice - either grow up, or stay away.

Let’s make this a season to remember for the right reasons.

Elizabeth Edwards

Ipswich Town Supporters Club