We wanted to know what it was like to be an Ipswich fan facing a 13th (thirteenth) season in the Championship. We thought we’d find it funny, so we asked sportswriter and Town supporter Henry Cowen to tell us, and his piece was so lovely we want them to be promoted
FourFourTwo's just landed on my desk. Another season preview. It is great, and you have to be excited about a new season – I for one can't wait to see our new kit in action, it's got a collar and all – but we're exactly where we were 13 years ago: mid-table, play-off hopefuls. Thirteen years. You don't need me to outline what you've done over the past 13 years but you've certainly had the opportunity to visit more grounds.
We are now the Championship's longest-serving club. In fact, it's a record we've held since Coventry City got relegated in 2012. Thirteen bloody years. In our first year back in the Nationwide Division One, as it was then, Swansea were two leagues beneath us, as were Bournemouth. They're now in the Premier League – so are you. I'm alright, really I am. But 13 years? Come on.
You'll obviously be very excited about the new season (although, on the subject of kits, what on earth are yours about?). You've had the chance to spend a bit of money, bring in some exciting new faces, resurrect some faintly hilarious old ones – hello Ricky – and, by now, you'll all have scoured the fixture list to see where you can gather the points you need to stay in the league.
Our off-season has been the same as it has been for many years – get the violins out. We've been selling young talent, trying to hold on to half-decent players and picking up cheap options wherever we can. We actually spent a bit of money as well, but don't tell anyone because it will ruin our hard-earned cheapo narrative.
Of course, it could have been us in the Premier League this year. At Christmas, if you had to bet between us two East Anglian behemoths most people would probably have gone for us, but by the time it came to the play-offs I always knew we'd lose. There was no doubt in my mind – and that's not being wise after the event. As many of you were probably aware, you were simply better than us. I'd have backed us against Brentford, been hopeful against Boro but against you? No chance.
It actually, genuinely made for a fairly stress-free event. Never in my life have I been more convinced that we'd lose a tie. I never allowed myself to believe. Not when Paul Anderson equalised at Portman Road, not when we took 1-1 to Carrow Road, not when it was still all square at half-time, not when Tommy Smith Ipswiched in a classic bundled equaliser. It was probably different for you; you were expected to win – not least by yourself – and that makes a massive difference. Somehow, it felt out of our hands.
Did any of you really think we'd do it? Our brave Ipswich boys may have muscled their way into the play-offs but our form in the second half of the season was almost Derby-esque. Comparing the XIs was almost embarrassing: Berra, Mings and Murphy may have made your XI, but there'd have been no guarantees. I'd try and make an argument in favour of Cole Skuse but your midfield was full of Premier League footballers.
Thankfully for us, and I know you'll be delighted, the only player we've lost over the summer is the one we could afford to lose. Tyrone Mings is going to be a decent player but £8m feels like we've done very well indeed. Having kept the rest of them, and with some decent additions (Brentford's Jonathan Douglas on a free is a good'un, I'd say) we're sure to be there or thereabouts. There or thereabouts. There or thereabouts. THERE OR THEREABOUTS. Thirteen years of this. Thirteen years of there or thereabouts.
Remember us if you're given a hiding by Liverpool. At least you're there. We'll probably be battling our way to a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield.
Henry Cowen is Web Editor at All Out Cricket. He tweets at @HenryCowenAOC