Derek The Writer

REVIEW

Our Blue Heaven

You don't have to be an Ipswich Town supporter to enjoy Our Blue Heaven, you don’t even need to be a football fan as such.

You just need to love great live music, clever choreography and scene-setting, with outstanding, totally relatable characters.

This play is ostensible to celebrate 40-years since Ipswich Town’s one and only FA Cup Final victory and it does it by capturing a snapshot of life in 1978.

That includes references to the firemen’s strike, football violence on the terraces, fashion with patterns and flares, and top 10 hits such as Heroes, London’s Calling, We Are the Champions and more.

Written by the Wolsey’s artistic director Peter Rowe, Our Blue Heaven scores with anyone who enjoys, fast paced, energetic, and humourous plays, superbly put together, with a talented and totally engaged cast and excellent live band.

Seen through the eyes of young football Sue, brilliantly played by the amazingly talented 14-year-old local girl Anna Kitching, the story of Town's FA Cup run, resulting in victory at Wembley against Arsenal with unlikely hero Roger Osborne netting the winner, is told against the backdrop of a Cup Final day wedding and the birth of a baby.

Every Town fans knows where they were the day Bobby Robson, who is uncannily captured by Peter Peverley, led the Blues to glory, and those who aren't will look to recall what they were doing, and those not born and so (1981 UEFA Cup and 2000 play off final exepted) have never known Ipswich glory so can only look back in wonder. 

Our Blue Heaven encapsulates everything that being a football fan in those days meant, along with ordinary people living in the political turmoil of the day captured with imagination, detailed touches on a stage bursting with local pride.

Peter Rowe cleverly weaves the various strands of the journey, culminating in a scene where the three stories, backed by live music, come together with the enthusiastic Dance East;s Community Chorus recreating the cup run and that wonderful moment the prize was lifted by Mick Mills (played by Steve Simmonds) and brought back to Ipswich.

The audience, studded with players from that 1978 side, along with other local dignitaries, whooped and hollered along, caught in the wave of emotion, sheer delight and celebration of that memorable day.

This Suffolk celebration serves not only as a reminder of what being part of the Ipswich Town family meant under Sir Bobby, whose words of wisdom are interwoven in the script, but for those, like my enthralled 14-year-old son who has never seen Ipswich than anything but a run of the mill Championship side, that it is worth daring to dream.

Our Blue Heaven

Wolsey Theatre

Until May 26 - Book here

Time For A New Town Boss - Choose Your Favourite

If the majority of Ipswich Town fans get their wish then Blues resurrection will start this weekend with the demise of the self appointed Messiah Mick McCarthy.

Even the promise of a 10% cut on season ticket sales has not seen Town fans falling over themselves to renew, or return, with many saying outright they will not buy if McCarthy remains in charge.

Although McCarthy dug them out of the relegation mire when he took over as manager in 2012 but year after year of cheap signings, loan deals and making do, without any real investment Ipswich have done little more than tread water.

Rather than being a miracle worker with a limited budget, McCarthy is now widely-regarded as a flop, turning wine into water and attacking his former followers. Yes, he took Town into the play-offs, but he was outsmarted by Alex O'Neill and it was rivals Norwich that not only got the Wembley final but into the promised land that is the Premier League, yet again.

Meanwhile, McCarthy could not beat the East Anglian rivals in his spell at Portman Road and Ipswich now face a 17th successive Championship season, and for all the world appear a club going nowhere.

Ipswich is no longer the family football club, with the eccentric quirks of previous the owners which have made it many a favourite second club for neutrals and an object of pride and joy, albeit limited and sporadic success for Suffolk supporters.

It is now no more than a branch of the Marcus Evans Group, intent on either making a profit, or being used as a tax write off, ambitions of playing in the Premier League or winning trophies, a long forgotten ideal. 

McCarthy kids himself if he still believes it is just a noisy minority who are fed up with his boring, pragmatic unambitious style of football, attacks on supporters and sulky press conferences. The attendances speak for themselves, as do the widely held view on fans polls that say if he stays on beyond the end of this season, they will not renew their season ticket. 

Marcus Evans has been known to be patient with managers, he has little or no regard for fans' or pundits' views, but the harsh financial reality is he will confirm it is a case of 'thanks, but no more' to Mr McCarthy when an announcement is made in the next couple of days.

Peninsula News understand the decision has already been made, and MM has been all too aware of his fate since Town's abysmal goalless draw with Sheffield United on March 10.

That was also the weekend Shefki Kuqi was in town and Blues fans made it clear their affection for him remains as strong as ever, while McCarthy was booed and Evans (pictured, right) was watching and listening.

Under Joe Royle, Kuqi, with strike partner Darren Bent and midfielder Tommy Miller were a fearsome goalscoring trio with nearly 60 league goals in one season between them. 

The Kosovan/Albanian-born refugee, who was brought up in Finland and played for international football them, is now regarded as a top manager in Scandinavia, with Finnish club Lohjan Pallo.

There is no doubt the Flying Finn, so called after his swallow-dive style goal celebrations. would sell season tickets, be given a fair go by Town fans and would fit the long-forgotten ethos of keeping it in the Town family.

Ipswich fans should know more before Town travel to Birmingham City on Saturday, and then play Millwall at Portman Road on Easter Monday.

Another who fits that mould is Tony Mowbray, who is close to winning promotion with Blackburn Rovers. Mogga will forever be remembered for not only skippering Town to Premier League promotion under George Burley but for scoring in the play-off victory at Wembley against Barnsley. Whether this si the right time for him to return to Town is another matter.

Mogga, stayed on as a coach while Matt Holland took over as skipper and led Town into Europe two season running before it all went wrong on and off the pitch.

Others in the frame, although long shots at best, are Mick Mills, Burley and Holland, while Kieron Dyer and Titus Bramble who are coaching at youth level for Town could be brought in to help regain the Blues ethos.

Meanwhile, Steve McClaren has been linked and while the former England manager has his merits, will he be able to work within Evans' budget constraints and turn the club around.

My belief is a decision has already been made - but who would you choose? 

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