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Interviews

Interview with Blue Wilson

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Since joining up with Joe Sheehan for the second time in her career, Town Midfielder Blue Wilson has been ever present in the Ipswich Midfield. Blue previously played under Joe during her time at the Essex RTC and joined up with him again last season when she joined Ipswich from Manchester City.

Not only has Blue cemented her place in the Town side, but also gets regular call ups to England Training Camps. Blue has recently become appointed the Player Ambassador at the club and helping lead the charge with the club’s True Blue membership, where fans can get benefits such as free entry to all Ipswich Town Women home games for a minimum cost of £5 a month.

Blue is currently on the road to returning from a spell on the sideline after picking up a nasty injury during an England Training Camp at the back end of last year. We caught up with her as she approaches a return to action.

Which footballer, men’s or women’s, would you love to play alongside?

Steven Gerrard, Thiago or Caroline Weir.

What team do you support?

You can probably tell from the previous question… Liverpool.

Who inspires you?

Jordan Henderson. Great leader and works incredibly hard, it makes a real difference to the Liverpool team when he isn’t playing.

Do you have any pre match rituals?

No I don’t, I normally just relax and make sure I have a lot of touches in the warm up. I try and boost my confidence as much as possible going into the game.

A footballing memory you’ll never forget?

Huddersfield away, FA Cup, 2019-20 season. 4-0 up in 20 minutes. Unbelievable!

Which team mate would you room share with on an away trip?

Emma Wallis, Rehab club sticks together

Which 4 team mates would you pick on your 5-a-side?

Paige Peake at the back, Peskett out wide, Kevin playing 10 pulling the strings and Lauren our physio playing up front – she has an unreal left foot.

Questions

Firstly, how is the injury?

I am definitely getting closer to being back on the pitch. My fitness is building back up and hopefully I should be back soon if Covid allows! The process has been more difficult because of the lockdowns but Lauren and Kevin have been great at supporting me remotely.

Another pause to the season, how does the team deal with the stopping and starting?

Although all of us would much rather be playing, collectively we try and use the time productively and move forwards to hit the ground running when the league does start again. Seeing the stop-starts as an opportunity to improve other elements of the game, I think, is crucial. We would not have had time to look at if lockdown hadn’t happened.

From a players perspective, and taking the current problem into account, what would you consider the best cause of action for the remainder of the season?

From a player’s perspective I think points per game seems a good option. From our point of view we would love there to be a result of this season and avoid another null and void result but some things are bigger than football. I think there are a lot of factors as players we don’t see, one thing is for sure I am not jealous of the people making the decisions! I’m sure the league will make the right decision considering the ever-changing circumstances.

This is your second season with the club, how have you found it so far?

I have loved it so far. Of course last season has been the highlight and was definitely the most exciting season of my footballing career. It had everything possible thrown in and to experience it all with a great group of people really topped it off. The squad and coaching team are fun to be around whilst having a balance of working hard to be a successful team, which hopefully, will continue in years to come.

You’ve recently been appointed the player ambassador, how did that come about? 

It was an idea that came about in the first lockdown when brainstorming how ITFC Women could get from Tier 4 to the WSL (4to1). I then approached the club with the True Blue proposal and they decided to back it! From there we set up the website and launched the scheme which has been a great success with so many fans buying into the vision.

How did the idea of True Blue come about?

Last season a group of players and staff met regularly to research further what it would take for a Tier 4 team to reach the WSL, these conversations sparked 4to1. From 4to1 True Blue was born after more  brainstorming and ideas in lockdown.

The club’s membership, True Blue, has had a good start with many fans signing up. That must be encouraging?

True Blue has been fantastic in terms of the support we have received from so many supporters. It’s really encouraging to know this is just the start and, hopefully, there will be lots more to come. It had been a really strong start, a great shame that there have not been many games to attend due to COVID-19.

What were the goals of setting up the True Blue membership? 

The main aim was to share the team’s vision and offer an opportunity for anyone to become part of the journey from Tier 4 to Tier 1. It has got the ball rolling and encouraged further thinking and ideas into how the 4to1 dream can be made possible.

How does the money from memberships help the club?

The money from memberships pays for staff such as a physio, strength and conditioning coach and technical coaches. It also helps on away trips to provide transport for players to venues further afield and occasionally overnight stays. The money from memberships is so crucial to allow us to continue being successful and striving for the 4to1 vision. As a whole we are hugely grateful for every penny received, it means we get to do what we love and build something which should be entertaining, inspiring and exciting to watch.

Are there plans for future events for True Blue members? When it’s safe to do so of course.

Yes. We can’t wait to welcome True Blue members back into the grounds when allowed to do so. There are definitely exciting prospects in the pipeline!.

How important is True Blue to the future and what the club has planned moving forward?

True Blues are so crucial to our plans moving forwards, the support we receive at games and on social media is unreal. We couldn’t ask for a better, more supportive fanbase. My aim of starting True Blue was to incorporate the fans into being part of the journey. We hope to make lots more history that we want to share with the people who support us most.

Are there plans for more initiatives and benefits for True Blue members?

We are always brainstorming ideas for True Blues, a lot of which will come into play when we restart matches. I think the addition of livestream access has been great, thanks to Kieren, Ross and Tom for their persistence!

How have you found the England camps you’ve been part of?

They’re a great environment showcasing the top talents in the country which is amazing to be a part of. They are normally intense but enjoyable and provide lots of opportunity to progress and develop as a player.

Does having players from the same club help when going on the England camps?

It’s great. It’s comforting to see familiar faces around camp, especially when there are so many of us. Proportionately we normally take over a quarter of the U19’s camps – the highest number of players from one club on camp. It shows how aspirational ITFC Women are as a club and has definitely turned a few heads.

How did you feel when we drew your former club Man City in the FA Cup last season?

I could not believe it to be honest. It took me 3 or 4 days to actually comprehend what it meant, a real shock. I was hoping we’d get a big team (preferably City) but wanted the game to be at home. Although we had so many fans travel up it almost felt like a home game!.

Did you catch up with any former team mates at Man City?

I know a few of them were watching in the stands. Emma Bissell who was in the U21 squad with me 2 years ago came on in the second half which was good to see. It was definitely a strange feeling going back!

You don’t usually stay overnight for away games. We did it twice last season with Huddersfield and City, how did you find the experience of having the overnight stay and preparing on match day?

It doesn’t really affect me that much, it’s definitely beneficial to not travel 3 hours + on the day of a game. It’s something I have got used to through England camps and doesn’t phase me now. It’s good fun to spend more time with the team than normal and chill in the hotel.

What personal goals have you set yourself for this season?

My goals have definitely changed from the start of the season! The main goal is to get back match fit without any recurring issues or injuries. I have just done my first session of non-contact training this week with the U21 Academy, so it’s looking good so far, but of course I am prepared for more hiccups.

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Match Previews

Pre Match Preview – AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon v Ipswich Town

Sunday 20th December – 2pm KO – No fans allowed.

True Blue members will receive an exclusive livestream of the game. Get signed up here https://www.itfcwomen.co.uk/true-blue.html

And just like that, we’re back to square one!. Unfortunately we won’t be attending this weekends League fixture as Ipswich head into London to face AFC Wimbledon due to the tier 3 restriction in the area. The club are looking to provide True Blue members with a stream of the game, but this depends if the ground can provide the facilities to make this happen such as internet ect.

This will be a tough fixture for the Tractor Girls, and Joe Sheehan’s side will most certainly be gunning for revenge after last season’s visit ended in Ipswich’s first loss of the season, and not forgetting THAT shocking refereeing display that was on show.

Pre-Match Chat –

Disappointment at the fact no one can attend this fixture, which Wimbledon will see as a big positive considering the good following Town usually attract!. This weeks FA Cup Draw which handed Ipswich with another away trip to Billericay has also caused conversation after most of Essex has been moved into tier 3 also!.

Team Talk –

Blue Wilson is on the road to recovery along with Emma Wallis, but this fixture will come too soon for them. Apart from them, Joe Sheehan has a fresh side to select from. Youngsters Maddie Biggs and Zoe Barratt both appeared in the 9-2 win at Harlow last weekend and will both be hoping to be part of the squad at Wimbledon given their recent goals in u21 games. Joe named a strong side at Harlow last weekend and would expect pretty much the same side to appear this Sunday too.

The Opposition –

Lets not be fooled by the table!. Wimbledon currently sit 6th in the league and have played 1 more game than Town, but this is one of the toughest teams we faced last season and were up there with us when the season was stopped.

Jessica Lewry and Katie Stanley currently sit as Wimbledon’s top scorers with 4 goals each this season in their opening 5 games. They also, just like Ipswich, have goals from all over the pitch and not just reliant on their strikers, so the Town defence will need to be on their toes to keep the Dons at bay.

Players To Watch –

Georgia Allen’s hat-trick at Harlow will have given the midfielder a massive boost after recovering from a knee injury at the start of the season. Anna Grey has attracted the attention of the fans with her recent performances and assists. And Sophie Peskett, who scored a brilliant goal at Harlow and has been pivotal in the Tractor Girls wins this season will certainly be looking to add to her goal tally.

Milestone –

Town Striker, Natasha Thomas, is 1 goal away from entering the 100 club. Her next goal will be her 100th Ipswich Town goal. The girl loves to see the net bulge!!.

From The Squad –

Town winger, Sophie Peskett, spoke to Media Manger Kieren Standley before this weekend’s meeting.

“We know it’s a big game and we’ve got to respect them a lot”

“We can’t underestimate anyone”

“Last year we were really disappointed with that result. We’ve been looking to get back at it and we’ll be looking to get back at them”

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Post Match Verdict – Harlow Town (A)

Sunday 13th December

Harlow Town 2-9 Ipswich Town

Ipswich Line-Up –

Williamson (GK), Hubbard (c), Egan, Peake, Rossiter, Lafayette, Allen, King, Grey, Peskett, Thomas

Subs – Meollo, Sutherland, Barratt, Cooper, Biggs, Abrehart, Adamson, Wakefield, Billson.

A highly anticipated game as Joe Sheehan’s side return to action after a second lockdown. Just over a month has passed since we last saw the girls in action in the last round of the FA Cup at Norwich. A good crowd followed the Tractor Girls over the Essex and Suffolk border to face a Harlow Town team as they look to carry on their FA Cup run.

Scoring early has been something of a habit for Ipswich this season and that continued here. Town took the lead just 5 minutes in when Paige Peake’s cross found the head of Natasha Thomas whose flick found the far bottom corner. It only took Ipswich 2 minutes to double their lead when Georgia Allen took advantage of the Harlow goalkeeper’s mistake, and tucked the ball home.

Harlow certainly weren’t letting themselves go down easy, fighting for every ball and chasing down the Ipswich defence at every opportunity. The third goal came after 17 minutes when town hit the hosts on the break from a corner kick. Anna Grey used her pace to carry the ball down the left, seen her shot blocked and crossed the rebound to Eloise King who was more than happy to slot it in to make it 3-0.

Anna Grey was involved again as Ipswich went on the attack. Grey’s low cross was fumbled by the keeper and landed perfectly for Georgia Allen to tap into the empty net for 4-0.

Harlow heads didn’t drop, a cross from the right side found Manning on the far post to head the ball home and the Essex side believing a comeback was on. Harlows’ constant pressure and closing down the ball paid off after 26 minutes when a sloppy back pass put former Tractor Girl Georgia Box through on goal who chipped the ball over the onrushing Lucy Williamson to make it 4-2 and giving the hosts a huge boost.

Town found the ascendency and took back control of the game just after the half hour mark. Peake’s cross was flicked on my Natasha Thomas and Eloise King was more than happy to fire it past the keeper and give Joe Sheehan’s side the momentum again. This paid off massively as Georgia Allen completed her first half Hat-Trick, getting on the end of Anna Grey’s cross and turning the ball into the top corner. This was just 1 of 3 goals before the break!. Next up was Sophie Peskett, with what I would say is the goal of the game. A short corner from Paige Peake allowed Sophie to turn inside and past her marker, make a run into the box and bend the ball into the far top corner. And just before the break, from another Paige Peake corner, a bullet header from Abbie Lafayette, to give the Tractor Girls an 8-2 lead at half time.

A slugish second half saw only 1 goal, which come from Natasha Thomas, who is now only 1 goal away from her 100th Ipswich Town Goal. Paige Wakefield, Amy-Leigh Abrehart and Livvy Billson come on midway though the second half and later joined by Lindsey Cooper and Maddie Biggs as Ipswich looked to get goal number 10.

The Ups and Downs

It was probably expected to have some cobwebs to brush off after having a month away and no games to play but we could also say, maybe we have been spoilt and expecting perfect football each week is being a bit selfish. Harlow put a good account in for themselves and can take solace in being one of only 2 teams to score past Lucy Williamson this season, we won’t mention who the other one is though!.

Despite the result, Town didn’t look as sharp as they have been, but are we maybe expecting perfect football week in week out after having such a good start to the season?.

Player Of The Match –

Georgia Allen got our vote this week after a brilliant display, not just her Hat-Trick, but a brilliant display all round. Controlling the midfield and spraying the ball about the pitch, finding team mates in space to maintaining control regardless of pressure from the opposition. Georgia’s late runs into the box saw her cause problems for Harlow’s Centre Backs that they simply couldn’t stop. Performances like this will put her right up there with Natasha Thomas come the end of the season in the race for the Golden Boot.

A special mention also to Anna Grey, who played brilliantly, and was simply unstoppable. Her assists in this game proved massive and seems to be really enjoying her game at the moment.

Post Match With Joe –

Joe Sheehan has seen his side come away with multiple clean sheets this season while also scoring plenty of goals. But the Town manager was pleased with the show at Harlow despite not keeping a clean sheet.

“We’re delighted to have a positive result and progress into the next round”

“I was intrigued to see how we would react off the back of conceding two”

“It can be difficult to find that edge when you’ve got a comfortable lead”

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Match Previews

Pre-Match Preview – Harlow Town

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Harlow Town v Ipswich Town

Sunday 13th December – Harlow Arena, CM19 5BE – 2pm KO – Free entry, maximum 400 fans.

Sunday’s certainly haven’t been the same since that 3-1 win at Norwich back in November, it almost feels like the start of a new season!. Joe Sheehan’s side continue where they left off, in FA Cup action as the Tractor Girls cross the border into Essex to pay a visit to Harlow Town, who have been gaining some attention recently.

Pre-Match Chat –

Probably not a lot since we haven’t played in nearly a month and a half, but fans will be happy to be back following the girls. Although the news of Paige Shorten’s replacement as Assistant Manager being whittled down to 2 applicant may cause a conversation.

Team Talk –

This could be a tricky to predict. Town fielded a rotated side against Peterborough Northern Star two rounds ago, who play in the same league as Harlow Town. But some may argue that, after soo long without a game, Joe may field his strongest side to get them gelled again and back into the rhythm of things. Pictures of Midfielder, Blue Wilson, back in training this week after an injury she picked up during an England Training Camp, look positive that we could see her back soon.

The Opposition –

Dean Perrett’s side currently sit 6th in the Eastern Region Women’s Football League, 1 level below Ipswich Town. After 5 games, they have won 3, drawn 1 and lost 1, scoring 14 goals in the process and conceding 9. Harlow currently occupies a few former Tractor Girls, including Georgia Box and Amy Nash. Georgia is currently sitting as the sides top scorer with 7 goals in 10 appearances while Amy occupies the captaincy for the Essex side.

Players To Watch –

This is difficult to say as we don’t know if Joe is going to stick or twist from the Norwich game. Either way, the squad has an abundance of talent. Amy-Leigh Abrehart starting in the Peterborough Northern Star game and put in a brilliant performance to match!. And with Zoe Barrett bagging 2 goals in midweek for the u21 side at Brighton, could that give her a chance in the first team?, Zoe also started against Peterborough NS.

From The Squad –

Joe Sheehan looked ahead to Sunday’s game with club Media Manager and Club Secretary, Kieren Standley.

“We’re looking forward to playing, we like playing, we like winning games and that’s something we hopefully pick up again when we return”

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The Big Fat ITFC Women Quiz – Final Round

Another one bites the dust at the top of the league, only 4 remain. Can they hold on, or will there be a twist in the final round.

If there is a tie remaining come the end of the final round

If we have a tie come the end of the final round, we will determine a winner by calculating how long each person has taken to complete the five rounds combined and the one with the quickest time will win.

Good luck, you’re going to need it! https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/676F8RY

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Interviews

Interview with Emma Wallis

Having already overcome 1 ACL injury already, nobody could blame Emma Wallis for being a bit careful when returning to football. But to then have the same injury happen a second time!, can be a scary position to be in for anyone hoping to become a professional player.

A long term injury doesn’t just impact the player’s ability to train and play games, but also the mentality and confidence going forward after the recovery.

We caught up with Emma to see how she’s dealt with the injury and look ahead to her return.

Which footballer, men’s or women’s, would you love to play alongside?

Without a doubt, Kevin De Bruyne.

What team do you support?

Arsenal ‘till I die – COYG!

Who inspires you?

Lucy Bronze – as a fullback myself, I learn lots by watching her play.

3 songs from your playlist?

1) Gecko Overdrive – Oliver Heldens x Becky Hill
2) Million Dollar Bill – Whitney Houston
3) Glorious – Macklemore

Do you have any pre match rituals?

Always have to go for a wee!

A footballing memory you’ll never forget?

Travelling to Dublin with the English Schools U15 squad was pretty memorable. I featured in matches against Scotland and Northern Ireland and I will never forget the experience.

Which 4 team mates would you pick on your 5-a-side?

Lucy W, Paige, Blue, Peskett

We’ve had a good start to the season, probably the best we could have asked for?

The girls have been great, and have worked hard to gain good momentum something that I’m sure everyone wants to maintain when we’re back.

Has this second lockdown had any negative effects on the mood in the camp?

Understandably, there was a lot of frustration among the squad. However, I wouldn’t say it has negatively affected the mood, as it has given everyone a chance to work on other aspects of their game – even if the situation is not ideal…

When the season gets underway again, there is a risk of some fixture build up. So keeping fitness up during this lockdown period is even more essential?

Staying fit has definitely been one of the main priorities during this lockdown. But it has also been an important time to rest, in mind that the intensity of fixtures may start to build up.

Given your lengthy injury, do you see the lockdown as an opportunity to get back to playing fitness and ready for the restart?

It has been a good opportunity to refine certain aspects of my game both physically, technically and tactically, in preparation for my return, especially without missing any matches. But I would also say that being integrated into team training would’ve been more ideal!.

This was your second ACL injury. What was your initial thoughts when it was confirmed?

The news of the second injury was gutting – a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I was so close to my return after the first one and it took me a while to really comprehend that I’d done it again.

Is it the same ACL as the first time?

No, the first was to my left knee, but the second was to my right knee; I’ve got matching scars!

Having it happen again, does it affect your confidence when coming back to playing?

I have definitely been frustrated from a technical point of view, as I have felt rusty, though I can feel improvements as time goes on and that gives me confidence.

How has the club helped with your 2 ACL injuries?

The club have been great and have supported me throughout this long spell on the side lines. They have still kept me involved in the team environment as well as supplying the physiotherapy to allow me to rehab properly.

How have you kept yourself occupied during the time out?

I initially took a big interest into sports psychology, completing a long project on it through school. But generally, it has sparked my interests into sports science and strength and conditioning, which I’m not sure would’ve happened if I didn’t get injured.

Does the thought of a reoccurring injury play on your mind? Especially with it being such a long term recovery?

I think it is quite present in my mind at the moment, but once I get the feeling of playing properly again, I think this will disappear as my focusses lie elsewhere.

Have you managed to get involved in any games in training, or is it too soon?

Before lockdown, I was joining in non-contact training. I hope to progress to contact training and eventually matches soon. Even though I am itching to get back, I do not want to rush this stage!

How soon can we expect to see you back playing?

It’s hard to say. I need to make sure my return to contact goes well without any knee issues, before even thinking about competitive matches. Realistically, this will probably be in the New Year.

What are your personal thoughts about men’s teams being allowed to play but women’s being stopped?

It’s difficult to criticise the situation as the hierarchy of the systems work differently, meaning the rules and guidelines aren’t the same.

Does it feel like the women’s game has kind of been brushed aside and doesn’t get the respect it deserves?

I did initially feel this, and still think we could’ve at least trained during the lockdown, but I think it’s something that could’ve been reviewed a bit better.

Do you believe that the club has the facilities to ensure safety if we had of been allowed to continue during the lockdown?

I do think we could’ve carried on training safely, as we all know the seriousness of the situation and would’ve done everything in our control to keep that possible.

We have been given a date to restart the season. Is it about preparation now, and making sure we restart how we finished off?

Yes preparation is important and we definitely want to restart how we left. It will be important to prepare in the same way as we always have and not do anything differently.

What has the club been doing during the lockdown to keep players going?

We have had zoom workouts, psychology workshops and general squad calls, so a relatively busy zoom schedule!

We will start off with the FA Cup game when we return. We play a team lower than us. As much as we’re expected to win, there is always a chance of an upset?

I always think that it’s important to be grounded when playing a team in a lower league. Looking back to last year, we beat teams in higher leagues than us on our FA cup run, so it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves.

Being the first game back, might it take time to get back into the flow again?

I think if anything, this odd period has made us more appreciative of being able to play, so I think the team will be raring to go and buzzing for the first match back!

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The Big Fat ITFC Women Quiz – Week 4

Last week’s round caught a few people out. Top spot has gone from being shared by 7 to 5!. Only 2 more rounds to go!, who can catch Tash?

Here we go with week 4! only 1 round left after this! https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CRMHVHK

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The Big Fat ITFC Women Quiz – Week 3

Week 2 provided a couple of questions that tripped some of you up! meaning the league table has thinned out now. Joe and Tash lead the way with only a handful of fans keeping up the pace!.

With plans for the season to be resumed now in place, the final week of the quiz will be posted on the 4th of December and a winner announced on the 11th!. But for now, here is week 3’s questions. Good luck, can anyone keep up with Tash and the boss?……..

Week 3 Questions >>> https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/P2ZSPV2

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The Big Fat ITFC Women Quiz – Week 2

30 of you took part in week 1 and ,judging by the table, week 1 was rather easy!. We even have the gaffer and some players taking part!.

We have had to step up the questions for week 2! same rules apply, only your first submission will be counted. Good luck!

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KX9W8HV

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The Big Fat ITFC Women Quiz

Become a True Blue and receive great benefits, including free entry to all ITFC Women home games. Find out more here.

With the season called to a temporary halt, we need some sort of entertainment. SO!! introducing The Big Fat ITFC Women Quiz!.

How does it work?

With the season stopped, we are going to post a weekly quiz of 9 questions each week until the season resumes. We will produce a league table along with the new set of questions each week and whoever finishes top come the resumption of the season, will win an ITFC Women Team Poster signed by two players of the winners choice. Only your first try will be counted.

What if there are joint winners?

In the event of a tie at the top of the table come the end of the quiz, the joint leaders will be entered into a draw and a winner will be picked.

So!! are you ready to test your ITFC Women knowledge?. Let the most knowledgeable fan win!.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS WEEK 1 QUIZ