PRIDE, passion, quality and a burning desire to work hard for each other - they were all oozing out of every Ipswich player on Saturday in the final game of the season.
Plenty of goals but, in the end, plenty to leave Town fans in no doubt that the future is not just bright, but looks set to get red hot.
But how can this be the same Ipswich side? Surely I’ve lost the plot?
No it isn’t and no I haven’t.
For I was not at Leicester City to witness a forgettable season come to a miserable conclusion - losing 4-2 at The Walkers - rather, I was at Portman Road watching a band of players who have no fear on the ball and for whom wearing the blue and white of Ipswich Town means everything.
If you haven’t heard, Sammy Morgan’s under-15s side overcame Manchester United’s future stars in a penalty shoot-out after a thrilling 2-2 draw to show why our academy is still up there with the very best. And for every pound that Town fans feel they’ve been short-changed this campaign, any supporter at Portman Road paying just £5 on Saturday will have felt they got outstanding value for money, watching what can only be described as a far purer brand of football.
I guess a Connor Wickham goal to round off the season was apt, but shipping four goals on the final day certainly told its own story of the class of 2010/11.
After Roy Keane’s underwhelming signings of Mark Kennedy and Conor Hourihane over the summer I didn’t expect much, believing 10th place to be about our level, but flirting with relegation wasn’t in my crystal ball. So, for what it’s worth, here are my end-of-season gongs:
Best Signing: Paul Jewell. I may have waxed lyrical about Jimmy Bullard, but were it not for Jewell riding in with his cavalry, Championship survival may have been a battle we didn’t win.
Worst Signing: Conor Hourihane. It was Conor who when he signed and unfortunately, despite being three years senior of Josh Carson, still hasn’t played.
Goal of the Season: Tamas Priskin v Arsenal. Wickham’s wonderstrike is eclipsed by the sheer drama of Priskin bringing the roof down on Portman Road.
Gaffe of the Season: Letting 21 players’ contracts, including £5 million pair Norris and McAuley run down. One question, Evans and Clegg: WHY?
Humiliation of the Season: The East Anglian Derby, came in two horrifying parts.
Best Away Day: The Emirates Stadium. Tantalizingly close to a Roy of the Rovers ending and Blue Army did us proud.
Biggest hope for Next Season: A proven goalscorer and Bullard in midfield.
That’s it for my ramblings this season, but here’s hoping the 124th richest man in Great Britain (According to the Sunday Times Richlist) is a fair bit lighter come August - and does not live to regret it.