IP1: It’s not easy being green


Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 12.35.43Narrator [a soft Scottish accent] It is the day of the football club’s latest Community Initiative, Go Green, and the now solo MD, John Fletcher arrives for his meeting with Graham Bobbins, Global Retail Strategist and the newly-promoted Customer Engagement Provider, Wendy Ramsey. Head of Performance, Yorkshireman Mick Mack, has sent his apologies.


John [reading from note] “… need more effing time to work on defending from effing short corners.” [throws note aside] Right! Haven’t got much time. Video conference scheduled for eleven. We need to work out some more ideas for the Go Green initiative. We need to set an example. For instance, I came to work on my bike this morning.

Wendy You come to work on your bike every morning.

Graham Well, what about this idea? We move all the people who sit in the family areas into one stand, the West stand. We can even play Go West over the PA for a few weeks to get people used the idea.

John Sorry, what has this to do with the environment?

Graham Ah, yes. People can – um – huddle together for warmth. Yes, that’s it. They’ll generate their own energy. … And there’s an even better idea for the under-fives.

John Go on…

Graham We move them all to the top tier. There’s a good reason. Everybody knows that five year olds are much more likely to be hit by stray balls than six year olds are. Makes sense.

Wendy [muttering] Just as long as we don’t put them in row Z…. Hoof! Still don’t get the environmental reason…

Graham Simple! We wire the stairs up to our generator. All those trips up and down to the food stalls and the toilets for little Bontcho and his parents, could save us a few quid!

John I’m really not sure, Graham. I don’t think the families in our fan base will be happy about this…

Graham Ah, but, here’s the best part. They can’t go up there alone. Their families will have to buy the more expensive tickets for the upper stand too. Plus, it’s almost impossible to reach the West stand without passing a sales outlet. We encourage families to enter the ground by passing the club shop and harness the pester power of hundreds of small children determined to own the latest kit.

John Good. I’m liking this much more…

Graham [feeling he’s on a roll now] … And we have a new kit design all ready. [rummages in briefcase] Here! The very latest Town strip. I’ve ordered hundreds of them.

Wendy But it’s green, Graham. With yellow trim.

Graham Exactly. If I say so myself, there’s a touch of brilliance here. Go Green. Green kit. Simple!

John I think I’d better be off now. I think perhaps it’s back to the drawing board, Graham. Back to the drawing board.




George 1

To celebrate Jack’s 21st birthday, here’s Emma Corlett”s great piece from Turnstile Blues issue 6 about taking him to watch ITFC as a small boy. Happy birthday, Jack.

I’m always intrigued to hear the many ways that people end up supporting the team that they do. I’d always assumed that it’s something passed down through families – but I’m guessing many of you reading this will not have fallen in love with Ipswich through being brought along by a parent. That though, was my way in. Dad started bringing me and my younger brother to Portman Road in 1986. We were both lifted over the turnstiles, with whoever was behind us in the queue passing over our milk crates. We stood at the Churchmans’ end of the Pioneer stand for the first half (so long as Ipswich were attacking that way), then at half time carried our milk crates up to the North Stand end to watch the second half. I fell in love with the experience of going to watch football immediately. I found out for the first time that my Dad not only knew some swear words, but actually used them out loud. I learned that it is possible to leave home (the other side of Bury St. Edmunds) at 2.20pm and manage to still get in for kick off (usually). Dad was working all hours of the day and night trying to prevent (unsuccessfully it turned out in the end – thanks Maggie!) the engineering factory that he managed from closing down. These few snatched moments and hair-raisingly fast journeys along the A45 were as much as we got to see him for several years. Me and my brother fell in love with trying to guess the size of the crowd, being sent to get autographs of players we’d never heard of, such as Allan Hunter and Brian Talbot, and listening to Dad tell us what they were like when he watched them play. We loved learning the words of chants, bit by bit joining in as our confidence grew and we found our own voices. I loved the spontaneity, how everyone just seemed to instinctively know when to join in. Mostly I loved (and still do) hearing “W” pronounced “wubble yew”. My first heroes were Ian Atkins, Mark Brennan, Mich D’Avray and Jason Dozzell. Dad was never sniffy about the players me and brother became obsessed with. He knew how lucky he’d been to follow Ipswich around Europe and see us lift the UEFA cup. He never once said that these players weren’t a patch on previous ones or how it was better in his day…. he just left us to fall in love with what was in front of us. Because it’s all that was on offer. On the Saturdays that Ipswich were away, Dad often took us to Layer Road. Colchester is Dad’s home town, so we used to tie it in with a visit to Grandma. No need to be carried over the turnstiles here, as someone Dad knew used to open the side gate and let us all in for free. We never took milk crates to Layer Road. Perhaps Dad was hoping we wouldn’t be tall enough to witness the, at times, shockingly awful football we were being subjected to. Ipswich was my true love, but I got to learn far better swears from the Bar Siders. As we got older we started going to games with friends, sometimes still with Dad, sometimes on our own. My youngest sister joined us. We started going to away games – the odd one with Dad but more often on my own on the Bury Branch supporters’ coach. Our ITFC apron strings were severed, and gradually Dad stopped going. His reasons being a combination of administration (“shafting local businesses,”) the arrival of Evans (“don’t like the way he’s running things”) and the final straw being the appointment of Roy Keane as manager (“I’m never going again”). And he hasn’t. I have had the privilege of passing on to someone what Dad passed on to us. I started bringing my friend’s son Jack to Portman Road early in 1998 when he was four years old. We were all living in Norwich. He wanted to go to football. He was given the choice of going to Norwich with his Norwich supporting uncle, or Ipswich with me. After a few days of weighing up his options, he decided on Ipswich “as that’s where Nanny and Grandad live”. A reason as simple as that, and a lucky escape. I carried Jack over the turnstiles into the North Stand. No need for a milk crate to stand on though, that’s what my seat was for. I carried him in this way until the end of the 2000 promotion season, when he was getting too big to carry and things weren’t quite so relaxed in the Premier League. It was always about more than just going to the football though. I loved spending time with Jack, and my group of friends that I went to games with made a real fuss of him and made him feel like the centre of our worlds. It also gave his Mum, who was training as a nurse with me, the chance to sleep after the extra night shifts she was regularly working to try and make ends meet.

Jack Wembley 2000

There are a few moments that melt my heart when I think about them… and this is the privilege: being able to experience aspects of football through the eyes of a child. The excitement of an evening kick off and incessant questions: “Is there still half time at night games? Is the ball the same colour at night?” Driving him to his first away game at Port Vale in August 1998, his wide-eyed astonishment at seeing big factory chimneys by the M6 motorway: “Wow, is that where Homer Simpson works?” When the teams came out at Wembley, as the fire works went off I felt a tugging at my shirt. I picked Jack up and he said, “I’m going to remember this game for my whole life”. I cried then, and it makes me cry now! His over-excitement when Fabian Wilnis scored against Manchester United: “a bit of wee has just come out” (sorry Jack!). And of course I taught him the off-side rule. Oh, and he learnt to swear, and swear well. I naively thought it was great for Jack to be surrounded by all these positive male role models. My season ticket happened to be next to my sweariest friend. I dropped him off back at his grandparents after one game. The dog jumped up at us, and six year old Jack said “get down Billy you c*nt.” What a conversation stopper, and poor Jack had no idea what he’d just said. There’s no reason why he would have known it was a problem – having spent the afternoon listening to my friend call Richard Naylor just that all afternoon. I did frantic apologising, and they let me carry on bringing him to football. Me and Jack struck a deal about swearing staying at the football from then on.

Jack with Naylor

Football provided other great experiences. I arranged for Jack to be away mascot at Manchester City. You remember that game, the rainiest one ever? Jack didn’t have any football boots (buying the kit and petrol to the game had been struggle enough) and Mark Venus looked at me accusingly in the tunnel, seeing Jack’s flimsy trainers he snapped at me, “Hasn’t he got any proper boots?” Err, no as it happens. A £380 a month bursary to train as a nurse doesn’t really stretch to that kind of luxury. So we got soaked, missed the goal changing in to dry clothes in the tunnel, and by the time we got in to the away end the game had been abandoned. It turned out OK though, as Jack got the chance to be mascot again away at Everton when we won 3-0. He warmed up with Paul Gascoigne, who was absolutely great with all the mascots (although he did give Jack a kick as punishment for Jack somehow managing to nutmeg him). Gradually, as I did with my Dad, Jack and I stopped going to games together. I wanted to stay in the lower north stand, and Jack couldn’t afford it because of the lack of concession priced tickets. So he moved his season ticket upstairs, from where he now watches games with his lovely step-dad. He also has his own son now, so maybe he’ll get to coerce him into falling in love with Ipswich too. Yes, each of us deprived the club of a bit of income through our over the turnstiles antics but we became hooked and therefore dutiful paying customers. I’d hate to add up how much money me, my brother and Jack have spent watching Ipswich since. I’ve had a season ticket for about 24 years, and Jack for 11 years, add on the replica kits, half time food & drink and club shop tat. The club did OK out of it. I’d love to be able to repeat these experiences with my own eight year old daughter. Competition is fierce though, as her Dad has a season ticket in the Barclay End at Carrow Road and we live in Norwich. I’ve got my work cut out. She’d been to one game at each place – a third round FA cup game a few seasons ago – and not really shown any interest since. She came with me to the pub before our first game of the season against Fulham, and was going to play with a friend while I went to the game. To my total surprise, she asked to come to the game with me. I know that there aren’t any concession priced tickets in the lower North Stand, so I was quite happy to pay full price for her. She could stand on my seat and in my mind she’d fall in love with the experience and noise of the North Stand, just as Jack had done. We didn’t even make it as far as my seat. Stopped on the steps by the first steward. “How old is she?” “Eight, why?” “You have to be 12 to sit in here.” “But she’s just going to sit on my lap, this is where my season ticket is.” “Sorry, I don’t make the rules. She’s not coming in.” So I asked to speak to a more senior steward. This one told me that the age restriction was 16 and that it was “FA regulations.” I laughed. “In which case, can you provide me a copy of these FA regulations now, in writing please?” She started back tracking: “Err, well, it’s the club rules, not the FA. We’ve got a duty of care.” “Well, I have parental responsibility and a duty of care for my daughter, and I judge that she can quite safely sit with me.” “But the language can be quite bad in here.” “I know that. If I didn’t want my daughter to hear swearing I wouldn’t bring her to a football match (or as a friend pointed out, with you as a mother if you didn’t want her to hear swearing you wouldn’t ever speak in front of her). Anyway, some of the worst and homophobic language I’ve ever heard here has been in the family enclosure.” At this point, as I was getting increasingly exasperated my daughter burst in to tears. The steward patronisingly said, “Poor thing, doesn’t she like the noise?” Actually, she’s OK with noise – she slept through our band rehearsals from a few months old and has been to plenty of gigs and festivals. And I hate to break it to that steward, but the North Stand isn’t actually that noisy these days. What upset her was that “a fuss” was being made and she knew it was related to her presence. Grudgingly I agreed to go sit in the top tier with her. I’m still angry that if I want to share my love of football with my daughter I would have to move away from the seat that I like, and the friends that I have sat among for years. She seemed to enjoy the game in the end, and declared Murphy her favourite player because a) he scored a goal, b) our cat is called Murphy, c) he “looks like he tells the truth,” d) he has nice boots. Since then though she has said she never wants to go and watch Ipswich again. She didn’t like that “people weren’t friendly.” She’s also found out that Norwich have TWO players called Murphy. If I’m honest, I don’t even know if I want her to fall in love with Ipswich or football at all. Everything is becoming so sterile, bland, stage-managed, lowest common denominator. I’m falling out of love with football, so maybe this was for the best. Or maybe Dad will save the day and start taking her to watch Colchester United. Jack with Titus 2

Supporters Direct speaker in Ipswich

supporters direct
Suffolk Branch Co-operative Party has a meeting on Thursday 13th November, 7.30pm at the Co-op Education Centre11 Fore Street, with speaker, Kevin Rye, of Supporters Direct
Supporters Direct assist football supporters’ groups to influence – and buy shares in – the clubs they support. 
Ipswich Town 1st is a local example of one such group which are co-operatives.  In a number of cases, supporters have been able to take ownership of their club, or in the case of AFC Wimbledon and FC United of  Manchester, set up a new club as a co-operative. 
Non-members welcome – we have invited members of Ipswich Town 1st to join us.
There is plenty of parking to the rear of the Education Centre (accessed from Waterworks Street).

The Turnstile Blues Guide to Avoiding Food Safety Issues at Portman Road


Here at Turnstile Blues, we’re concerned about certain “food safety issues” that have been brought to our attention. In an effort to discourage the consumption of HOT food, here are a few suggestions of meals that you can safely and legally consume within the hallowed confines of our football ground.

Vichysoisse (aka cold leek and potato soup)

Vichysoisse (aka cold leek and potato soup)

A cold collation (18th century fans only)

A cold collation (18th century fans only)

Lots of ice cream

Lots of ice cream

Salad (OK, perhaps not)

Salad (OK, perhaps not)

Smörgåsbord. One for ITFC Sweden there.

Smörgåsbord. One for ITFC Sweden there.

A great big picnic (but strictly no alcohol).

A great big picnic (but strictly no alcohol).



TB6 cover

In this issue: True Faith: an interview with Terry Butcher by Susan Gardiner; Working Overtime: Nigel “Needles” Nosworthy gives the low-down on his career as ITFC’s tattoo artist by Gavin BarberWilderness: what it was like for Coventry City fans to have to play at another club’s ground. Two articles by CCFC supporters, Tom Murden and Sam GaytonTransmissionEmma Corlett wonders if she’ll be able to pass her love for Town on to her daughter; RegretRob Freeman on the Ched Evans case; Special: an interview with George Burley by Gavin BarberHere to Stay: further memoirs of our nineteenth century correspondent, Peregrine CuttlefishFine Time: memories of Wembley 2000 by James Scowcroft, Tony Mowbray and fans; Sub-culture: a brief history of ITFC fanzines by Susan GardinerLove Will Tear Us Apart: why we produce Turnstile Blues by Gavin BarberTemptation: a new app for finding non-league matches; Unknown Pleasures: non-league football by Alasdair Ross.

Turnstile Blues 6 costs £2.50 (sent by First Class post) or £1.50 to download, please click on the cover image or download button below

TB6 cover   download-button


You can now subscribe to Turnstile Blues.  a subscription of £6.00 will entitle you to all three of the issues that we publish each year, starting with issue 6 (see below for contents). If you’d like to subscribe, please click on the red button and follow the instructions. You’ll still be able to buy back issues separately – until they’re sold out.


Back issues, if available, can also be purchased from our Fanzines page

Who sent out an ITFC steward to try and move us on when selling Turnstile Blues today?


I was selling Turnstile Blues on the public highway out the back of the North Stand this afternoon, and after a few minutes was approached by one of the ITFC senior stewards from the North Stand.

He told me I couldn’t sell there, and asked me if I had a licence to sell. I replied that I didn’t need one.

He said “Yes, you do, you need a licence to trade on the street”.

“Who from?” I replied.

“The council,” he told me.

“I don’t. You’re mistaken. But, if that was the case, it would be the business of the council. I wasn’t aware ITFC stewards had council enforcement powers.”

I pointed out that the selling of newspapers and pamphlets is exempt from needing street trading consent. The steward only gave up when I called over another TB seller who happens to be a Ipswich Borough councillor, who reiterated what I told him.

Another of our sellers on Portman Road was asked by a steward what he was doing, and kept a close eye on him for five minutes before he lost interest and wandered off.

Contributors to this fanzine who have been involved in editing and selling other ITFC fanzines report never having been bothered by or attempts made to obstruct their sales by ITFC staff or stewards previously. We will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Thanks though to the several stewards who bought a copy of Turnstile Blues today . We hope you enjoy reading it.

Roy Keane: the only interview you need to read


14_Page_31_Perry When former Town manager Roy Keane released his new book this week, there was frantic media attention. Peregrine Cuttlefish, society columnist for the East Anglian Daily Times from 1871 – 1903, occasional Turnstile Blues contributor, and the only man to have spent three solid hours flicking rubber bands at Charles Dickens’s nose, instantly recognised the potential for a meeting of wizened minds, and was first in the queue for an interview. We are proud to present the full text of what can quite literally be described as a historic encounter. Transcribed by Gavin Barber.

Peregrine Cuttlefish: Thank you, Mr Keane, for agreeing to an interview. When I read your book I realised that we should meet. We have each spent our lives at the very forefront of history: living and shaping the moments that define our respective eras.

Roy Keane: You say that. I could agree with it or not agree with it. It doesn’t matter.

PC: One notices straight away your antipathy towards Sir Alex Ferguson, a man whom you chastise for being distracted by horses. This instantly reminded me of Thomas Hardy, who was notorious for tearing up drafts of his latest novel if he saw a moth in the room. A little-known fact is that Far From The Madding Crowd was only completed because me and a troupe of jobbing performers from the Lambeth Music Hall were on a 24-hour patrol outside his study, swatting moths with our banjos lest any should disturb Hardy’s concentration. Did you ever meet him?

RK: Thomas Hardy? Aye, a miserable fuck. Sure he could pull a sentence together but why be so bitter about everything? I look back on what I achieved as a footballer and see no acknowledgement of that in Hardy’s work. None at all. That to me seems disrespectful. I’ve no time for the man.

PC: There’s a passage in the book in which you say that Sunderland chairman Ellis Short spoke to you “like you were something on the bottom of his shoe”. I remember Queen Victoria herself saying this after an unfortunate encounter with the King of Norway. What are your views on the dowager empress?

RK: Queen Victoria? Ah, listen. She’s achieved a lot, there’s no doubt about that. But I don’t get the need to be flouncing around with the big black dresses and the moody face. OK, so the guy with the knob-ring died. Get over it, move on. The way I see it, you look back over some of the proper monarchs, your Henry Vs and what have you, and they never saw the need for that sort of showboating. They just got their heads down and got on with the business of oppressing people. I just don’t get why Victoria had to show off like that. Why the flouncing? Can’t be doing with it.

PC: Thinking back over my own time as one of the leading lights of the literary circuit, I recall a cocktail party in Woodbridge in which Lady Login-Error of Shotley caused quite the stir by reading to the assembled company from her diaries. She shocked the guests by revealing that she had tapped a servant-girl across the ankles for insolence. Your new book reveals several such confrontations. Is this a regular feature of your life?

RK: Listen, I’m no different from anyone else. People think I’m this kind of monster, always getting wound up and fighting people, but I’m just a normal guy. Yeah, I’ve had a few rucks. Jon Walters and Pablo at Ipswich, that’s in the book. Schmeichel at Man United too. And yeah, it happens occasionally. I was in the hotel this morning and there weren’t enough hash browns at the breakfast buffet. I don’t even like hash browns. It shouldn’t matter to me. But it’s about standards of professionalism. So, yeah, I smashed up the kitchen and pinned the chef against the wall. But it’s just part of life. Happens to anyone.

PC: You’ve said in the book that when you were a player you had a ‘character’ that you got into, and that all sports professionals are, to an extent, playing a role. I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the company of your fellow countryman George Bernard Shaw. Like you, he was perceived by some as a troublemaker: in reality he was studious and diligent, but with a playful side. I remember one occasion when we were dining at White’s with Horry Walpole: Shaw carefully arranged all the peas on his plate into a perfect pyramid, then toppled it just as the Prince of Wales walked past our table. The bumbling royal lost his footing amidst the leguminous sea, and clattered face-first into the Duke of Fife’s sherry trifle. Shaw was roaring with laughter. Which of the classical thespians did you follow in developing your role as a footballer? I thought I could see Stanislavski’s influence in the fight with Alan Shearer in 2001 which got you a red card.

RK: Sure, there’s an element of acting there. Stanislavski is nonsense though. Method acting? Don’t give me that. You’re either in character or you’re not. What business do you have calling yourself a professional if you’ve got to immerse yourself for hours? Get in there, do the job, get the fuck off the stage.

PC: And finally Mr Keane: a contemporary of mine was Charles Darwin, who like you attracted disdain, opprobrium and horror in his own time, only to be regarded as a visionary in later years. What are your views on human evolution? Have we reached optimum physicality or can we adapt further? Do you think it will ever be physically possible to…

RK: Stick it up your bollocks.

Roy Keane’s new book, Stuff That Makes Me Cross When I Think About It, is out now. Peregrine Cuttlefish’s memoirs are due to be published just as soon as he remembers the details of that hilarious thing that Edward Elgar once did with a goldfish. In the meantime, an excerpt can be found in the new issue of Turnstile Blues, on sale at Portman Road next Saturday or via this website soon afterwards.

Walk a mile in my shoes


By Stuart Hellingsworth. This article was first published in issue 4 of Turnstile Blues.


I dare say that you’ve heard of Jesus Navas, the Spanish winger at Manchester City. You’ll have certainly heard of Gianluigi Buffon; one of the best keepers to grace the game. What do these two players have in common? Yes, they’re both better footballers than me! But it’s actually more than that; both have battled mental illness.

Navas has suffered from anxiety to the extent that reportedly he had to reject big moves earlier in his career. Buffon has suffered from bouts of depression and required the support of a psychologist.

Depression is sweeping through football. A survey of professional footballers by Four Four Two magazine showed that 78% of them agreed that depression is a problem for footballers. Stan Collymore, and Darren Eadie have talked openly about their battles with depression. Clarke Carlisle, Lee Hendrie and former Hull hard man, Dean Windass, attempted suicide. Paul Gascoigne’s mental health issues are all too well documented. Sadly, it took the lives of Gary Speed and Robert Enke.

Enke was a top goalkeeper winning eight caps for Germany and part of the Euro 2008 squad. His clubs included Barcelona and Benfica, but found much of his success at Hannover 96. Here he became the club captain and was voted the best goal keeper award in 2008/09 season. Two days after a 2-2 draw with Hamburg, Enke kissed his baby daughter and drove off to the train station where he took his own life.

Former ITFC captain, Jason De Vos is one who has encountered players with mental health issues. When asked about the support that such players received, he commented “Football is as vicious a working environment as can be imagined. It really is ‘survival of the fittest’.” But why is this? I have no doubt that De Vos would have been supportive to those concerned, but in this day and age, surely all should be? We don’t judge those with cancer; we support them. So why not mental illness?

Is it because it’s something that ‘other people’ get? Or that we know very few people have such issues? The latter might be true as many of us don’t realise that a friend, a relative, a work colleague, or a famous cricketer is suffering.

The statistics show that mental health problems are far more common than most realise. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. 1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem.

It’s a common belief that people with mental illness aren’t able to work, but, in fact, we probably all work with someone experiencing a mental health problem. Another myth is that people with mental health illnesses are violent and unpredictable. The reality is that people with a mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violence.

9 out of 10 people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination. Nearly three in four young people fear the reactions of friends when they talk about their mental health problems.

In other words, statistically, of the 22 or more footballers that you’ll see at Portman Road today, five are likely to have or develop some sort of mental illness this year. I hope that all clubs have set up a system to nurture players to assist with the prevention and when they are troubled. Football clubs have a duty of care to their players. A coroner criticised one premiership team for lack of support to a former youth player who later ended his life. This is particularly poignant as three young male suicides occur on average every day in the UK, according to the British charity, The Campaign Against Living Miserably. Suicide is the biggest killer of young men. Following Gary Speed’s suicide, the PFA decided to send advice to 50,000 players. They have also a rather good webiste, however an awful lot more remains to be done.


Mental illness can affect people of all ages and walks of life as it can be triggered by physical, social, environmental or/and genetic factors. Depression affects anyone of any age (Rethink 2013).

Statistically there will be a few thousand people in the stands today with a form of mental illness. Probably a number sitting on your row. It’s something that needs acceptance in life rather than a dismissing attitude. Whether we know it or not, a friend, work colleague, lover or family member will have some sort of mental illness. Or maybe you have such problems. Something so many people find really hard to talk about.

With that in mind, the following links may be of help, whether for you personally or someone you know. Remind yourself that you or they have something in common with (among others) Gianluigi Buffon, Winston Churchill and Kylie.

Rethink.org | mind.org.uk | time-to-change.org.uk | samaritans.org

Ched Evans: some thoughts on his possible return to professional football


We understand that Ched Evans, who was jailed for rape in April 2012, may be released as soon as this Saturday. We are disappointed that the Chief Executive of the PFA, Gordon Taylor, has made a public statement supporting Evans’ return to professional football. Rob Freeman wrote this article for issue 6 of our printed fanzine which will be published on 18 October 2014, but he’s kindly allowed us to post it here first.


Image available under Creative Commons © faungg (Flickr)


Sometime this month around the publication of the next issue of the Turnstile Blues fanzine, Ched Evans is due for parole, after being jailed in 2012 after being found guilty of raping a woman in a Premier Inn in Rhyl. Fans of many clubs – including Ipswich – have taken to social media to proclaim Evans’s innocence. Many have taken their views on the case exclusively from two sources – one, being the fact that Clayton McDonald was found not guilty, while Evans was found guilty, the other being the official website set up by his family and friends in order to proclaim his innocence.

In the first instance, the reason why one man was found not guilty, and the second man found guilty was because the victim was alone with McDonald for long enough for her to have given consent, yet Evans never spoke to the victim until after she was at the hotel, after the point at which the hotel porter had stated at the trial she was intoxicated. The Crown Prosecution Service website refers to consent as: “In R v Bree [2007] EWCA 256, the Court of Appeal explored the issue of capacity and consent, stating that, if, through drink, or for any other reason, a complainant had temporarily lost her capacity to choose whether to have sexual intercourse, she was not consenting, and subject to the defendant’s state of mind, if intercourse took place, that would be rape.” McDonald and Evans were separated, at which point McDonald and the victim took a taxi to the hotel. As the victim’s condition is unknown at time when she is alone with McDonald (but evidence given at the trial such as text messages sent around this time, suggests she had a fairly normal level of coherence), there is time for her consent, and therefore, enough doubt for a jury to find McDonald not guilty. As there is a witness to her condition deteriorating prior to the first time she speaks to Evans (they had met earlier in the evening but not spoken), and Evans confirmed at the trial that he had sex with the victim, the jury had little option but to find him guilty.

The second source of information – some would say misinformation – is the Evans website. The website itself is a classic example of rape culture and victim blaming. References to social media comments made five months after the rape suggesting that she was going to “win big”, and criticisms of rape charities (“They should not allow Cheds (sic) return to his chosen profession become a distraction from the good work they do”). There are references to her behaviour in order to make her sound fully coherent, while at the same time highlighting behaviour that some would find unsavoury. The victim’s behaviour shows signs similar to that of someone who has been spiked (going from coherence to appearing intoxicated in a short amount of time, and the subsequent inability to remember what had happened while appearing intoxicated), but as most drugs used to spike drinks disappear relatively quickly from the system, nothing was found in her system, when she was tested the next day. That said, as Evans had no opportunity to speak to the victim, he had no opportunity to spike her drink. If Evans is released, the question of whether he should be re-employed by Sheffield United – or another club – has been raised, with many arguments being raised in favour and against.

Many have an unease with someone convicted of such a crime shouldn’t have the ability to earn thousands of pounds a week on release – these arguments were also put forward when Marlon King (sexual assault and assault), Lee Hughes and Luke McCormick (death by dangerous driving) were released from prison after committing their respective crimes.

The main argument for, is that as he has paid his debt to society. After all, if a factory worker was to be released, we would want them to return to their career, as part of their rehabilitation, and re-integration into society. However, if Evans is released in October 2014, he won’t have repaid his debt to society – he will instead be serving the second half of his sentence on licence.

As the website proclaiming Evans’ innocence says: “Any individual convicted of a criminal offence should be allowed to return to their profession as part of their rehabilitation, with the exception of certain circumstances where they pose a risk to others”. It is fair to say that an unrepentant convicted rapist poses a risk to women just by being free in the first place, and when you consider that footballers are also expected to perform work within the community – especially those footballers who are in need of rehabilitation. However, Evans’s supporters feel he should resume his career where he left off, to the point of criticising the charity Rape Crisis for questioning whether an unrepentant convicted rapist should return to a highly paid high-profile career. However, this is part of Rape Crisis’s remit. The vast majority of rape victims suffer with flashbacks, and these are often triggered by references in the media to rape, and references to Evans continuing a high-profile career is going to see him referred to as a convicted rapist, and even if he isn’t the mention of his name may trigger a traumatic memory in a rape victim. And it is for those reasons, rather than how much money he may or may not earn that makes me believe that he should not be allowed to return to football.

For many, the question isn’t whether Evans should be re-employed by Sheffield United, or any other club. While Evans continues to deny his guilt, many would argue that he should not be released on parole at all. There are suggestions that, because he still maintains his innocence (he made a third submission for an appeal in July this year), he may not be released – other people in this situation (most notably, the Birmingham Six) have been refused parole because a condition of parole is that you must admit your guilt before you can be released. After all, in the eyes of the law, you cannot be rehabilitated if you are unrepentant. When dealing with offences such as rape, the Sexual Offenders Treatment Programme requires the prisoners concerned to give a full and frank account of their crime – although this programme doesn’t apply to prisoners going through the appeal process. Majority owner and former chairman of Blackpool FC, Owen Oyston had parole refused while he served a sentence for rape because he refused to admit his guilt. In his case, he appealed to the High Court, which ruled that the Parole Board had ruled unlawfully in his case, however other parole cases have continued to be refused for the same reason.


Roy Keane Ha Ha Ha (or The Snapper)




Roy Keane has written about his time at Portman Road. Susan Gardiner took a quick look and these are her first impressions.

I did wonder whether Roy Keane would say very much about Ipswich Town in his new autobiography, The Second Half, co-written with Irish novelist, Roddy Doyle. I enjoyed his previous book with Eamon Dunphy (with whom he later fell out. Obviously.) and I felt some sympathy with him when he came to Ipswich – here’s a man who will never be able to build a career away from the cameras, journos and their tiresome ringing mobile phones, and keyboard warriors high on male pheromones – but that has been severely strained by a quick glance at the relevant chapter of the new book. Given that I don’t have the context of the entire book, it wouldn’t be fair to comment too much on Keane, the man – although it’s hard not to.

It’s quite obvious that Keane regards his whole time at Portman Road as a mistake. He claims that he and Ipswich were a “bad fit” and the omens were there from the start: hardly anyone came to his first training session which was open to the public, he says. Oh, and he hates blue: “I don’t like fuckin’ blue. City were blue. Rangers were blue. My biggest rivals were blue? Is that childish?”

Yes, Roy. It is.

I’m quite glad that I was unaware of that level of irrationality when he was our manager. Although this book was written with hindsight, it’s a curious method of self-justification and that particular bit doesn’t ring true. I wonder why he says it. It’s not particularly edifying. He goes on: “I couldn’t feel it. Me and the club. I get annoyed now, thinking that. I should have been able to accept it.”

This is the tone of the section I’ve read: slightly regretful, mea culpa, I should have accepted the situation and have done my best with it. But I don’t buy it. It seems to me that, at Ipswich, he felt like Gloria Swanson, playing the ageing Hollywood star, Norma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard (“I am big! It’s the pictures that got small.”) He moans about his office, “like a school prefab,” and it makes me long for the humility of an Alf Ramsey or the pragmatic cheeriness of a Bobby Robson (“good fits”).

The question springs to mind: why was Roy Keane appointed at all? What was in Marcus Evans’ mind when he (presumably) decided to sack Magilton and replace him with this man? Magilton was not doing particularly badly. In retrospect, it seems very harsh that he was sacked and, although we’re happy to have Mick McCarthy, I do wonder how well Magic Jim would have done, had he had the time to build a team. The only explanation that I can come up with for the arrival of Keane is “publicity.” And he definitely created huge opportunities for a certain grey and white logo to be displayed all over Britain’s press and TV screens.

Keane is certainly self-deprecating at times: “I made another mistake. I should have looked at the bigger picture.” He writes of what he describes as “the dreaded conversations with the owner” during the close season. It’s interesting to see that, for all his anonymity, Evans is not averse to interfering with managerial decision-making. Perhaps Town fans became too used to the completely hands-off approach that the Cobbolds took for decades, although it seemed to work for us. I was most surprised by the picture Keane draws of sitting with ME discussing tactics, with a tactics board. Perhaps this explains a lot:

ME: “Well, why can’t he play there?”

RK: “Because he’s this and he’s not that.”

ME: “Let’s go with the younger players.”

So, according to Keane’s book, he was told to go for youth rather than experience against his better judgement. “The average age of a promoted team is twenty-eight or twenty-nine.”

Keane puts the failure to recruit (33-year-old) Sean Derry firmly at the feet of the club. He wanted an experienced pro, which is understandable, but whether Derry was the right “fit,” we’ll never know. He’s respectful towards Town fans, says some kind words about Connor Wickham but what he says about some of his other players demonstrates an absence of rapport to say the least. When shaking their hands and wishing them luck going on to the pitch “sometimes I’d wonder what they were putting into my hand.”

He wanted to physically attack Pablo, and his bust-up with Walters is the stuff of legend (vomit selfie, anyone?) but what he says about selling Rhodes is interesting, at least to me because I always suspected that was a club decision rather than Keane’s and he confirms it.

Most interesting of all are his revelations about CEO Simon Clegg. And that there was never an occasion when he, Clegg and Evans were ever in “the same room together.” His comment on Clegg (“This is the face you have got”) being answerable to Marcus Evans rather than working with the manager rings true and it’s perhaps one thing that we can be sympathetic with Keane about.

While I find him surprisingly unanalytical and lacking in self-awareness (that ego gets in the way too often), I think he’s right about not being a good fit with this club. I despair that he compares us unfavourably to Sunderland and even more when reading these words: “Chris Kiwomya was there, and Bryan Klug, and Steve McCall was the chief scout. They’d all played for Ipswich. It has the feel of a family club that didn’t need breaking up. But that was exactly what it needed.”

Ultimately, it was the wrong appointment at the wrong time and for questionable reasons. Keane clearly found it onerous to “discuss mobile phones for hours” when Wickham has been thrown out of his digs. I was struck by the comparison with our great managers of the past, Ramsey and Robson, who patiently performed far more menial administrative tasks for the club and had a genius for good relationships with their players and other staff, well documented elsewhere. As Kevin Beattie recalled of Bobby Robson: “It didn’t matter if you were the best player in the team or the worst player, he treated you the same and got the best out of you. He could make an average player into a good player and a good player into a great player. It was uncanny ability and that made him stand out as a manager. Wherever he went, he seemed to get the best out of his players. I know at Ipswich, we all just wanted to play for him.”

Roy Keane wasn’t blessed with players of the ability of Beattie, Mariner, Wark or Mills, and it’s arguable that things may have been different if he’d had a different kind of owner and chief executive to deal with. In many ways, Keane was a symptom of the changes made to our club’s character in recent years rather than the cause of our problems. Let’s hope that in Mick McCarthy we now have someone able to deal with that, yet retain respect for the nature of our club.


The Second Half by Roy Keane and Roddy Doyle (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2014). Borrow it from your local public library, they need your support.