Skip to main content

The Forgotten Achievers: Ipswich Town 2000/2001


Attracting the top players, the top managers and the top money, the English top flight is widely accepted as the best league in the world. Over the years, a Premier League winners medal has been a must have on any world class player’s mantelpiece. We must understand however, that whilst we all want our team to stand on top of the pile, this is not realistic in the slightest. 


Over the past fifteen years, only four teams have won the title: Manchester United (eight), Chelsea (three), Arsenal (two) and Manchester City (two). This is not uncommon amongst the top leagues across the world, with the Spanish and Italian titles being won in the same time period by only five clubs each. After all, in lower leagues the winner is promoted. In the top flight, there is nowhere for the victor to go but to come back next year and prove their dominance once again.

Such is the dominance of certain clubs in the Premiership, even a top five finish is practically out of reach for most sides. In the past fifteen seasons, the top five places have been shared among only ten football clubs. We all know Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool (the ‘Big Four’ for so many years) dominated English football throughout the noughties, that Tottenham have always been teetering on the edge of the top four and that it is only the immense wealth pumped into the blue side of Manchester that has seen City rise to prominence since 2010. So who are the other four that have secured a place in the top five since 2000?

Much has been made over the years of David Moyes’ heroics to take a club with relatively low funds like Everton into the battle for the top four, and their rise has been well documented. In much the same vein as the Toffees, Newcastle have been a mainstay of the Premier League since its inception in 1992, and being able to boast a Premier League legend like Alan Shearer, the Magpies have been one of the big clubs in the league’s 23 year history.

Everton finish 4th in 2005

Who can’t remember Leeds’ Viduka-Kewell-inspired rise to prominence in the early 2000s? The Yorkshire-club has since taken a dramatic tumble through the leagues, and that Champions League side now seems like a lifetime ago. Leeds United, however, does remain a huge side in the eyes of many football fans, and the fact that the rivalry between Manchester Utd and Leeds is so fierce, only highlights this further.

The remaining club reached fifth in the league in the 2000/2001 season, against all the odds, the fact that they had been tipped for relegation and a very limited budget. Under the guidance of George Burley, newly promoted Ipswich Town hit dizzy heights, and lost out on second spot by only four points. Standing toe to toe with the likes of Giggs, Vieira, Beckham and Fowler were Ipswich’s 2000 play-off heroes. Unfamiliar to most, the Tractor Boys’ side consisted of players who have gone down in Suffolk folklore as legends of the club. Stewart, Magilton, Holland, Wilnis and Scowcroft are among the names that will never be forgotten by the Ipswich faithful; but may have already been forgotten by the average football fan.
Marcus Stewart fires Ipswich into Europe

Not only did they enjoy an exceptional league campaign, the Blues narrowly lost out on the chance to play in a League Cup final after defeat in extra time of the second leg of the semi away to Birmingham City. After a season in which George Burley was crowned Manager of the Year, the club finally managed to make a UEFA Cup spot, and the next season took them across Europe for the
first time since 1982. They even treated the Portman Road crowd to a 1-0 home win against an Inter Milan team including names like Zanetti and Vieri.

To highlight the squad’s success, in 2000/01 record signing Marcus Stewart hit nineteen league goals, leaving him second in the race for the Golden Boot; ahead of the likes of Thierry Henry, Michael Owen and Teddy Sheringham. Never capped by England despite a tremendous goalscoring record, Stewart was the leading light in Ipswich’s dream of a season. However, it will be his time after his move to Sunderland for which he will be remembered, and his heroics in an Ipswich shirt in 2000/01 are simply confined to the inside of the record book.

Will Ipswich return to the top?

Despite continuing to show talent and promise throughout 2001/02, the Tractor Boys found out the hard way how difficult it is to juggle a league campaign and a European excursion. The season took its toll, and after a 5-0 hammering at Anfield on the final day of the season, Ipswich were relegated into Division 1. The Pride of Suffolk are now the longest serving club in the English second tier, and have been there ever since their fall from grace in 2002.

Those were the days; lest we forget.


This piece was kindly written for TFHB by Thomas Colley - an aspiring sports writer and lover of the beautiful game!

Follow Tom on Twitter @the_tomcolley


The Football History Boys, 2015 - Best New Football Blog 2014


Popular posts from this blog

Ardiles and Villa: Footballing émigrés | @RichEvansWriter

Military events in the South Atlantic – even at a distance of 8000 miles – had a profound impact on a celebrated pair of international footballers in the 1980s.  @RichEvansWriter  takes up the story: Ossie Ardiles & Ricardo Villa at Tottenham Hotspur When one thinks of footballers and war, images of khaki-clad figures of yesteryear tend to spring to mind – the kind of ‘moustached archaic faces’ that Philip Larkin details in his poem MCMXIV. However, footballers do not have to be participants to be affected by conflict. Indeed, as with any civilians, they may well be unwitting victims with no stake in political events beyond their control.  In certain instances, football risks turning into an extension of the battleground – where players, subject to barbarous words and threats, become targets of abuse. Such was the case in 1982 with Ricardo Villa and Ossie Ardiles – then both of Tottenham Hotspur – whose fates (at least in the short term) were determined by events unfolding on the o

The Crest Dissected - AS Roma

It’s been a good while since I’ve done a Crest Dissected but after a bit of a summer break and time at the BBC ( Cardiff and Swansea pieces) it’s time to get back down to TFHB writing! So following FC Barcelona , PSG , AS Monaco  and US Women’s Soccer this week I’m going to take a look at AS Roma and their intriguing history.  In the summer of 1927 an Italian Fascist, Italo Foschi , was behind the merger of three older Italian Football Championships clubs all based in Rome, Alba-Audace , Roman and Fortitudo . The purpose of the move was to compete with the well established clubs, especially in the Northern cities but Lazio were not behind the move meaning the Derby della Capitale rivalry was there from the beginning and Associazone Sportiva Roma was born. AS Roma immediately endeared themselves to the masses by taking on the capital’s colours, red and yellow, something Lazio did not consider as they favoured the greek myth of Olimpia and the colour blue. Romulus an

The Forgotten Brilliance of the Doncaster Belles

Doncaster Rovers men’s team have spent the majority of their existence in the third and fourth tiers of English football and currently their women’s side Doncaster Rovers Belles play in the FA Women’s National League Division One Midlands. In the modern game, it can be argued that there is not enough recognition that Doncaster Belles were one of women’s football's most successful sides with 21 major honours between 1976 and 1994. During this successful run they also finished runners-up in the National Division seven times, in the FA Women’s Premier League and Charity Shield twice and the Premier League Cup on three occasions. This included winning the league and FA Cup double in 1991-92 without losing a match before claiming the double again in 1993-94. Their dominance was underlined by reaching eleven FA Cup finals in 12 years between 1983 and 1994, lifting the trophy on six occasions. Notable players for the Belles included Karen Walker and Gill Coultard who were inducted into th