British former Premier League (now First Division) football club Ipswich Town was founded in 1878. The official club name then was Ipswich Association FC, to mark the difference from the already existing Ipswich FC that also played rugby. Both teams melted together in 1888, and five years later football was declared the only sports practiced at Ipswich Town. It would last until 1936 'though before the club from Ipswich joined the professionals.
The fact for taking so long before becoming a professional football club, was that the East Anglia region was everything but a football-loving area. Except for arch rival Norwich City, the region doesn't know any other professional football club with some status.
Ipswich Town is a typical family club. This was clear from its very own start as a professional institution. One day in 1935, John Murray Cobbold - son of the first chairman - visited a rainy Piccadilly to enjoy some horse races. He met Arsenal manager Sir Samuel Hill-Wood who offered him a dry seat under the roof of Highbury football stadium. Cobbold had so much fun that afternoon that he decided to support his local Ipswich team financially. Within the year, Ipswich Town was professional, winning the Southern League championship in its debut season.
Already in 1938 Ipswich Town was admitted to the nationwide Football League. Sixteen years later, the club was promoted to the First Division for the first time. Promotion to the highest level followed in 1961. The club of chairman John Cobbold (again the son of) and manager Alf Ramsey delivered a unique feat: they won the title immediately. Central playing figure in that champions team was Ray Crawford, still all-time club top scorer with 230 goals in 320 league matches. Together with Ted Phillips (who had a cannonball shot) he made the goals, 33 in that particular season. In that same year, Crawford became the first Ipswich player to wear the national team kit.
Ramsey left after that to lead the English national team to become world champions in 1966, but Ipswich dropped heavily in the football rankings without the coach. One and a half year after the title, on Boxing Day 1963, Fulham recorded a 10-1 win over Ipswich Town, which still is the largest beating the East Anglians ever experienced. In the same season, Ipswich were relegated.
Manager Bill McGarry brought the club back to the highest level in 1968. He was followed by Bobby Robson a year later. After a miserable start, this turned out to be a golden signing. In 1978, Ipswich celebrated its 100th birthday by winning the FA Cup, beating Arsenal 1-0 in a surprising final. The enthusiastic Robson composed a strong squad, which delivered the club its greatest success in 1981. By beating Aris Saloniki, Bohemians from Prague, Widzew Lodz, Saint-Etienne, 1. FC Köln and AZ'67, Ipswich won the UEFA Cup. Two Dutchmen in midfield contributed hugely to the successes: Arnold Mühren (later Manchester United and Ajax, while he also won the European title with the Dutch national team in 1988) and Frans Thijssen. Scotsman John Wark was the most popular player in this team: he was elected Player of the Year four times by the fans. A second League title just slipped from them and as usually happens to relatively small clubs, the success lasted not very long.
Robson became coach of the English national team in 1982. New head coach Bobby Ferguson could not prevent the relegation of 1986, but his departure one year later only made matters worse. In 1990, Ipswich Town fired its manager (John Duncan) for the first time in club history. Under John Lyall Ipswich was promoted again in 1992, but a desastrous season made him leave in December 1994. His successor and former Ipswich player George Burley could not prevent relegation that year, but he brought the club back to the top of the Premier League in 2000. Yet in 2002 Ipswich Town were relegated again.
Its stadium called Portman Road was also used for rugby (being Ipswich FC's ground first), cricket, dog races, athletics, hockey and tennis in the early years. Town's first ground was at Broomhill and in fact the players used to use a shed across the road as a dressing room. On March 8, 1975, more than 38,000 people watched the FA Cup match against Leeds United, a club record. Portman Road now has a capacity of 27,000 seats. 'The Tractor Boys' have their own leisurewear line called Punch, named after a horse characteristic for the Suffolk region and also showing on the club badge. The official club website can be found at http://www.itfc.co.uk.