The Return of ‘Fortress Portman Road’ & a reason why Ipswich lose out on young loanees

Another season of football at Portman Road passes.

Ipswich have had an excellent record at home, and as of Monday 27th of April, have the best Home record in the division, as shown below.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 18.14.09

This graph (via here) shows that average away form has lead to the slip away from automatic promotion places, but losing just three times at home is a very impressive achievement by Mick McCarthy’s men. This has no doubt been down to the 18 goals conceded at home (only the compact Middlesbrough can boast less), a style which has been promoted by McCarthy’s often unfashionable 4-4-2 approach, which has championed a hardworking press – styles the likes of Jay Tabb and Cole Skuse have flourished under – and lest we forget, arguably one of the best centre-backs in the division, Christoph Berra being a stalwart, especially in recent weeks against the likes of Wolves and Bournemouth. So there is plenty to be proud of in East Anglia, with perhaps one more home fixture to come!

Dashboard 1

The above dashboard (I’m skeptical that the embed will work, so please follow through to this link to access it) highlights two things I’d like to discuss. The first being the geographical location of Portman Road, compared to the rest of the UK and secondly the increasing attendances at Portman Road – with added results and match categories for discussion.

So – Let’s talk about geography.
Ipswich are roughly one or two hours from London, where there are a cluster of clubs in commutable distance – During the transfer windows, there is often much discussion by (as I often refer to them as) the Football Manager Generation (Don’t get me wrong, I have lost many weeks to the popular football simulation – it’s a great game.) to speculate ‘buying’ certain players who are available. The rumour mill likely to go into megadrive this summer, the onus will be on the club to continue to be shrewd and calculated in it’s recruitments – but the map goes to show that the larger clubs (ones who have young talent to loan) are clustered in certain areas. And this gives other, northern clubs an advantage in loaning or buying the rights to out-of-favour/young players or free agents. This is a shame, but unless the location of Ipswich suddenly moves due to tectonic shifts, it’s unlikely to change. The onus is on the management to promote the club in a way which is attractive to the human sides of the footballers.

Second point – Attendances;

Season League Highest Home Attendance Highest Home Attendance Opposition Lowest Home Attendance Lowest Home Attendance Opposition
2014-15 Football League Championship 27923 Southampton 15726 Brighton & Hove Albion
2013-14 Football League Championship 20862 Sheffield Wednesday 14953 Blackburn Rovers
2012-13 Football League Championship 21988 Hull City 15417 Derby County
2011-12 Football League Championship 24763 Crystal Palace 15650 Coventry City
2010-11 Football League Championship 29258 Norwich City 11363 West Bromwich Albion

These are the highest and lowest home attendances at Portman Road since 2010. As expected, if the team is winning and performing well in the league, the fans will come. And they will also come to reasonably priced televised cup replays against Premier League opposition.

What’s a bit odd to me is the sporadic nature of attendances this season – of course, the regulars have no returned as of yet, but the so-called ‘Soccer Saturday’ crowd may be slowly being drawn back to the joys, sorrows and excitement of live football. For the final match against Nottingham Forest, a hat-tip must go toward the #ITFC twitter community and Jonathan Ogle for marshalling the fans to do their best to get Portman Road rocking. The tribute to Chris Reynolds which immediately was followed by a goal was excellent, and a fitting tribute to the Ipswich Town family.

I’m hoping for a Mick McCarthy away point on Saturday, and expect the home leg of the play-off semi-final to be as well attended as the Charlton and Nottingham Forest afternoons were.

The dashboard is fully interactive, and any feedback, comments and discussions are more than welcome!

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