Ipswich Town 3 Millwall 0 match report: Ipswich pay homage to Robson, a legend who left an enduring legacy

The Calvin Report: Former club lead a day of tributes for a much-loved manager and top things off with victory

Portman Road

The applause reached a crescendo before the chants became insistent and irresistible. Tribal conventions were defied by a shared chorus of: "There's only one Bobby Robson". It was his day, a day for dreamers who seek a shred of common decency and dignity in the old game.

Across the country yesterday 150 community events were staged in the former Ipswich and England manager's honour, but Portman Road felt like an appropriate point of pilgrimage. It was the perfect setting, an immaculate time, for a history lesson.

Ipswich's win over Millwall seemed almost incidental. A mundane match, decided by two own goals and a thumping header, was overshadowed by the enduring significance of a man whose humility, honesty and sheer humanity highlights what football has lost, probably for ever. Robson's was a life lived as a passion play. His football had sanctity of purpose beyond the fripperies of the modern game, where multimillionaire players purport to be martyrs and owners with no conception of community ignore a century or more of tradition, and rename clubs on a whim.

Bobby never forgot his alternative to football: hacking at coal seams in claustrophobic tunnels, four feet high, dug deep beneath the Durham countryside. His work ethic was shaped by the example of his father, who missed only a single shift in 51 years underground at Langley Park Colliery.

He balanced professional pragmatism with a strong social conscience. Had he lived to see such a day, Robson would have organised a quiet word with Wayne Rooney about his good fortune, and the dangers of a loss of focus. He would have treated the likes of Luis Suarez with the contempt the Uruguayan deserves.

Football's best-loved knight of the realm knew his worth – he became the first player to sell his image rights when a cigarette-card company paid three guineas for his photograph – but never forgot where he came from, a two-up, two-down terraced house with no bath and an outside toilet.

He remains an ethereal presence at the homely club he made his own. Yellowing press cuttings line the corridor leading to the Ipswich boardroom. One, from January 1969, introduces a young man in a Crombie overcoat who had been taken on by the club's owners, the Cobbold brothers without the security of a contract.

Thirteen years slip away in as many strides. Programmes from the great days, European nights against Barcelona and AC Milan, merely emphasise Ipswich's marginalisation in a world in which the rich are getting richer and the rest scavenge for scraps.

Robson's life is commemorated alongside that of another eminent ghost, a certain Sir Alfred Ernest Ramsey, whose funeral service, from May 19 1999, is reproduced.

The match programme contained vignettes of Robson's kindness, such as sending an 11-year-old schoolboy two FA Cup final tickets, which his father had been unable to source. Yet he was not soft.

Terry Butcher, now a successful manager in Scotland, chuckled gently as he recalled the quiet terror which seized him as a young player entering annual contract negotiations with Robson.

"Bobby would always begin by asking, 'What do you think you're worth?' Butcher said. "Before you could answer, he'd be off: 'Just remember, the working man is suffering. The Tories are closing factories. Africans are starving. We're paying for European butter mountains and wine lakes.' You'd sit there, and stutter, 'Same deal as last season then, gaffer?' He'd shake you firmly by the hand, and you'd go away to work out what you were going to tell your wife. A great man."

Robson was hard enough to make grown men cry – Alan Brazil once jumped in the communal bath in his kit and refused to come out – but sufficiently sensitive to ask after their sick children. He spent the club's money as if it was his own, and rationed toilet rolls in the away dressing-room.

That was an unhappy place last evening, when Steve Lomas, Millwall's manager, was confronted by the difficulties of regime change at the club. He could do little about unfortunate own goals by Shane Lowry and Mark Beevers, but was livid at the laxity of his transitional team's defending. The way Tommy Smith bullied Danny Shittu to head Ipswich's second goal was unacceptable to him.

The Ipswich fans were content with such riches, and saw out the final minutes by reaffirming their love and respect for a man whose resilience sustained him through five bouts of cancer.

Robson's legacy is twofold, and stretches way beyond Suffolk. His charitable foundation will continue to save lives. His example will be remain a rallying point for all who believe there is more to football than a fast buck.

Thanks, Bobby, we will not forget.

Ipswich (4-4-2): Loach; Hewitt, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell (Berra, 86); Edwards (Anderson, 67), Skuse, Hyam, Tabb (Tunnicliffe, 67); McGoldrick, Murphy.

Millwall (4-4-2): Bywater; Smith, Shittu, Beevers, Lowry; Henry, Derry, Bailey, Chaplow (Feeney, 70); Morison (McDonald, 76), Keogh (Easter 54).

Referee Graham Salisbury.

Man of the match Carlos Edwards (Ipswich).

Match rating 6/10.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
i100
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?