Sometimes you know you’re living in a moment that you’ll never forget – and when you do, you have to take a few seconds to absorb what is happening, to remember how it felt, sounded, looked.

As the clock ticked down on one of the greatest seasons in Ipswich Town’s proud history yesterday, I diverted my eyes from the pitch for a few moments and gazed around at the sea of expectant faces inside Portman Road. It was a reminder of just what a football club means to those who follow it.

Ipswich were last in the Premier League in 2002. In the years – sorry, decades – since then, Town fans endured a steady decline. Managers came and went. The owner lost interest. Gradually, season by season, everything got worse and worse and worse.

Relegation to League One followed. We lost to Burton and Accrington and Fleetwood and Cheltenham. The decay on the pitch was mirrored at Portman Road – the famous old ground that had hosted Barcelona, Real Madrid and the rest, had been left to rot and rust like an abandoned tractor.

But then everything changed. New owners, a new chief executive and, most importantly, a new manager. We’d never heard of Kieran McKenna when the club announced that he would become only the 19th man to lead the Blues. But the whole of football knows who he is now.

Promotion back to the Championship arrived last May. And now, 12 months on, promotion again – this time to the greatest league in the world (minus the VAR).

There aren’t many things that bring the people together anymore. But a football club – when run properly – can still muster a sense of kinship and community. 

The town looked beautiful yesterday. People were everywhere. As 30,000 supporters left Portman Road and flooded the town centre, they were met by thousands more who hadn’t been able to get a ticket but had wanted to celebrate regardless.

Even those who don’t like football were in the streets. Sometimes the game transcends sport and becomes something much, much more important.

Romance is a diminishing commodity in 21st century football. But this is a fairy tale that we’ll never forget.

 Uppa Towen. 

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