Ipswich Town player/coach Alan Lee believes events like Tuesday’s fans’ night at Bury Town are vital to reach out to their strong fanbase in the west of the county.
The former Republic of Ireland international, who has lived in Hartest, near Bury St Edmunds, with his wife and her parents since moving back to the club in the summer, joined first-team regulars Christophe Berra and Paul Anderson on a players’ panel.
The trio answered questions from just under 100 supporters who packed into Bury Town’s Ram Meadow clubhouse, including members of the Bury, Long Melford and Newmarket supporters’ branches, as part of an event hosted by the Ipswich Town Supporters’ Club, which also served as a fund-raiser for Ipswich’s academy.
Striker Lee, who scored 31 times for Town in 103 appearances, one appearance this season, told the Free Press: “Bury is my local football club now, as I am living in Hartest.
“Ipswich Town is the only club in Suffolk in the professional leagues and having lived in Suffolk you find we are supported in all corners of the county.
“And I think it is important we go out and get in touch with those fans.”
The 35-year-old, who is a coach at the club’s academy, which is looking to raise £500 a season as part of its plan to move to category one status — the top level in the country— added: “Tonight was a perfect example of the benefits of this. We had a great turnout and we were very well looked after by Bury Town Football Club.”
Martin Swallow — on the executive committee of the Ipswich Town Supporters’ Club, as well as the PA announcer for Bury Town — who helped organise the night, revealed £423 had been raised for the academy and £400 for cash-strapped Bury Town, from what was the second year the ‘On The Road’ event had been staged. He also reiterated Lee’s words about the importance of the SkyBet Championship club reaching out to fans in the area.
“Following on from last season’s successful night, the event this year was bigger and better,” he said.
“It shows how important Ipswich Town is to the people of west Suffolk and also maintains the great links the two football clubs share.”
Former Bury Town and Ipswich Town midfielder Simon Milton hosted the Q&A session as well as a fund-raising auction of club memorabilia and experiences, with Swallow himself having the winning bid for two tickets for the directors’ box for a match.
Kieth Deller, the 1983 BDO World Darts Championship winner, was in the crowd and retold stories about his experiences of supporting Ipswich Town, including poking fun at rivals Norwich City on live television.
n Now log on to www.buryfreepress.co.uk to watch our exclusive video with Alan Lee.