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Anniversary party was in Bobby's honour

PUBLISHED: 10:18 01 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:16 06 July 2010

IT was a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Ipswich's FA Cup-winning heroes - but it turned into an opportunity for a town to pay tribute its favourite adopted son.

IT was a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Ipswich's FA Cup-winning heroes - but it turned into an opportunity for a town to pay tribute its favourite adopted son.

The Thirty Years of Honour reunion in May last year had been planned to mark the anniversary of the day Mick Mills lifted the famous trophy aloft.

But it was Sir Bobby who stole the show.

Taking to the stage after a special gala dinner at the Town Hall, the former Ipswich, Barcelona and England manager spoke passionately of his undying love affair with the little Suffolk club he transformed in the 70s and early 80s.

“We love you, Bobby,” shouted one member of the captivated audience, “you're the best manager in the world.”

Earlier in the day, the gentle Geordie sat on an open top bus - his ailments prevented him from standing - and watched in an apparent amazement as the thousands who had lined the route from Portman Road to the Cornhill sung his name.

That Sir Bobby was surprised at their reaction to the appearance of their returning hero was a mark of the man's modesty.

But he was clearly moved by the genuine warmth and love he received - and had always received - in this tiny pocket of England.

The reception afforded to Sir Bobby by the thousands of fans on the Cornhill when he appeared on the Town Hall balcony - the same spot where he had held aloft the FA and UEFA cups decades before - was a truly moving moment.

He spoke for 15 minutes but could have talked for hours - and the fans would have stayed until he uttered his last word.

Inside the Town Hall, the standing ovation which met his arrival rivalled the famous greeting he received at the Sports Personality of the Year awards in 2007.

Former Blues chairman David Sheepshanks presented Sir Bobby with his own silver replica of the FA Cup, a gesture which brought the great man to tears.

It was an unforgettable evening, charged with emotion - and a final chance for the people of Ipswich to say 'goodbye Bobby, and thank you for the memories'.


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