The New Blue Army
Ipswich Town's community work (or is it a desperate bid to recruit new season-ticket holders?) is reaching uncharted territories. Around 500 football shirts - as well as leisure wear - have been handed out to youngsters in war-torn Iraq.
We're not sure if they know their David Johnson from their David Johnson, but hundreds of youngsters are now kicking a football in the streets of Hamrin wearing the blue, the white, the orange and the red of Ipswich Town.
The Club, Ipswich 1st and the Those Were The Days fanzine teamed-up to send out a vast collection of kit and leisurewear after Captain Mark Stoneman of the US Army requested help. Mark, a lifelong Town fan who moved to the States in his teens, has been serving in Iraq with his unit, Company B 1st Battalion 10th Field Artillery Regiment.
Thumbs-up if you hate Narridge?
With football a common interest between the soldiers and the Iraqis, Mark and his colleagues constructed a pitch for the locals in Hamrin and supplied the youngsters with footballs to show off their skills.
But with kit in desperately short supply, Mark asked for donations. Portman Road came up with 30 old home shirts, 50 away kits, a range of discontinued benchwear and unwanted clothing from the Academy.
Carl enlisted the help of 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath, who flew the kit out “I’m grateful to everyone who has helped make this happen. My unit had moved out of Hamrin when the kit all arrived so I had to beg a lift from the 101st Airborne Division in order to get the kit to my old base.
“We flew the kit down on a Blackhawk helicopter and I went out with the company at my old base and distributed about half the shirts and we plan to do the rest over the next month or so.
“The reaction we have received from the Iraqis has been fantastic. They were so happy to see what we had brought them and as a Town fan, it’s great to see so many youngsters wearing Ipswich colours.”
Mark was invited to attend Town’s home game against Burnley on February 11th 2006 as a guest of the Club.
last updated: 26/11/2008 at 13:27
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