Ipswich youth glory

When they beat Bale, Wal­cott and co.

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

GARETH Bale, Adam Lal­lana and Theo Wal­cott have all com­manded big trans­fer fees after com­ing through the Southamp­ton academy, but in 2005 they were ren­dered speech­less by a 15-year-old.

Ed Up­son’s ex­tra-time strike, in front of almost 15,000 peo­ple at Port­man Road, saw Ipswich Town win the 2005 FA Youth Cup fi­nal, beat­ing a Saints side brim­ming with tal­ent.

The first leg, which was played at St Mary’s, ended 2-2, with Cathal Lor­don net­ting a brace for the Trac­tor Boys and David McGoldrick – who nows plays for Ipswich – and Leon Best find­ing the net for the Saints.

Goal-hero Up­son was only se­lected for the Suf­folk side for the sec­ond leg be­cause reg­u­lar mid­fielder Owen Gar­van was rushed to hos­pi­tal with a virus, but, with­out him, they may not have won the tour­na­ment.

After the game, then-academy coach Bryan Klug said of Up­son: “Ed­ward is a boy in our un­der-15s team and has been do­ing re­ally well. At 15, to play in front of 14,000 peo­ple and Sky tele­vi­sion, it could have gone hor­ri­bly wrong.”

Of the squad used over the two legs, only four of the play­ers went on to make more than ten first-team ap­pear­ances for Ipswich. Up­son, whose now with Mill­wall, failed to play a sin­gle game.

The Trac­tor Boys’ other sec­ond leg hero was goal­keeper Shane Sup­ple. The Ir­ish­man, who quit foot­ball at 22, kept Southamp­ton at bay, mak­ing sev­eral key saves. Sup­ple only made 34 ap­pear­ances for Ipswich, be­fore choos­ing to re­tire from foot­ball and re­turn to Ire­land, where he took up Gaelic foot­ball.

The popular shot-stop­per ad­mit­ted that his side’s youth cup win was for­tu­nate.

“It was mainly luck,” he said. “We had a good team spirit, but, on pa­per, they were the stronger team.

“From the first round to the fi­nal we had a lot of luck, but we had some good games in be­tween.”

Southamp­ton’s side that night didn’t just con­tain Bale, Lal­lana and Wal­cott. They also boasted tal­ents like Nathan Dyer, McGoldrick, Tim Sparv and Martin Cranie.

Many of the Saints side have gone on to play pro­fes­sional foot­ball across Europe, but the same can­not be said of the Trac­tor Boys.

Play­ers like James Krause, Stu­art Ains­ley and Blair Ham­mond all dropped down in to the non-league lad­der. Most of them re­main in East Anglia, play­ing semi-pro­fes­sion­ally.

A look back through the FA Youth Cup his­tory books will tell you that this fall from grace is not un­usual. For the many great names that have graced the youth cup fi­nal, more never reach their po­ten­tial.

For Ipswich Town’s 2004/05 team though, they’ll al­ways be able to tell peo­ple the story of how they beat Gareth Bale and co.

Ed Up­son

Theo Wal­cott

Leon Best

Gareth Bale

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