PORTMAN ROAD - IPSWICH TOWN
How To Get There And Where To Park
Follow the A14 around Ipswich, until you see the turning for Ipswich (A137). Stay on this road and you will eventually see the ground on your left. Bill Leggate adds 'there is extremely limited on-street car parking around the ground. There are however three pay and display parks in Portman Road with a total of about 800 spaces. It costs £3.50 to park your car there for the Saturday afternoon. Early arrival is recommended to ensure a space close to the ground. There are several town centre car parks within 10 minutes walk all of which are well sign posted,' plus there there is a multi storey car park located next to the railway station, which costs £5 on a Saturday afternoon and £3 weekday evenings.
The ground is only a quarter of a mile away from Ipswich train station. You will see the ground as you come into the station. Ipswich is served by trains from London Liverpool Street and Peterborough.
What Is It Like For Visiting Supporters?
Away fans are placed on one side of the upper tier of the Cobbold Stand at one side of the pitch, where up to 1,900 away supporters can be accommodated (or according to some - crammed in). 1,500 of this allocation are housed in the upper tier wing sections. If necessary an additional 400 'premium' seats can be made available which are more centrally located in the upper tier. The away allocation can also be supplemented by a further 400 seats in the lower tier of this stand.
Although the views from this area are generally not too bad (unless you are at the very back of the stand where there are some supporting pillars), the leg room is a little cramped and as with the rest of the stand the facilities are beginning to show their age. On the plus side, away fans can really make some noise from this stand, contributing to a real great atmosphere. Food on offer inside the ground include; Rollover Hot Dogs (£3), Various Pies, including the Chicken Balti Pie (£2.60), Pasties (£3) and Jumbo Sausage Rolls (£2.60). Chris Watkins a visiting Coventry City fan adds; 'I felt that I my visits to Portman Road that the stewarding was a little over the top with fans being persistently asked to sit down. There was also a sizeable Police presence, for what really is a low profile fixture'.
What's The Ground Like?
The overall look of the ground has greatly improved, with the re-development of both ends. Both these ends, the Greene King (South) Stand and the North Stand, are similar in appearance and size, and dwarf the smaller older stands, located on each side of the ground. Unusually, both ends have a larger upper tier which overhangs slightly the smaller lower tier. Both have windshields to either side of the upper tier and they are completed, with some spectacular floodlights perched on their roofs. They were both fully opened a year apart in 2001 & 2002. The South Stand was originally called the Churchmans Stand in reference to the Churchmans Cigarette factory which used to be located behind that end of the stadium.
Both sides are much older stands and now look quite tired in comparison. On one side, the fair sized Britannia Stand is a three tiered covered stand, with a row of executive boxes running across its middle. This stand was was originally opened in 1957 and was then known as the West Stand. In 1984 an additional tier was added along with a new roof. Opposite is the smaller Cobbold Stand. Again it is two tiered and has a row of executive boxes. However it is only partly covered, with the small lower tier of seating being open to the elements. This stand which was first opened in 1971 and was originally called the Portman Stand. It was later renamed the Cobbold Stand in respect of the Cobbold family who were former owners of the club and old Suffolk brewers Tolly-Cobbold. Unusually the teams emerge onto the field from one corner of the ground between the South and Britannia Stands. Outside are two statues of two former Ipswich and England managers. One is of World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey and is located on the corner between the Cobbold and North Stand, while Sir Bobby Robson's statue is placed behind the Cobbold stand in Portman Road.
On September 26th 2009 before the game against Newcastle United, the North Stand will be officially renamed the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Where To Drink?
The main away supporters pub for many a season, the 'Drum & Monkey', has now declared itself a 'home supporters only' pub, following refurbishment. This makes the choice of drinking establishments for away fans very limited. The Station Hotel, which is near to the ground and train station, is where most visiting supporters will congregate. Otherwise the Punch & Judy pub on Cardinal Park, which is close to the ground has also been recommended to me as a pub which is family orientated and where both sets of fans can enjoy a drink. Other pubs in the area such as the Victoria, the Hare & Hounds and the Swan, are very much home pubs and are best avoided by visiting fans.
If you arrive in good time then you can take the walk into the town centre where there are plenty of pubs to be found. Of particular note is the CAMRA Good Beer Guide listed, Lord Nelson in Fore Street. Which is an interesting pub that sells Adnams beers. Otherwise alcohol is on sale inside the ground in the form of bitter and lager, at £3.10 per pint, plus Aspall Suffolk Cyder. Please note that alcohol is not available to away fans at half time.