Emotional day to remember Sir Bobby

SIR Bobby Robson's family, former players and colleagues and fans of the two football clubs nearest to his heart will come together today to pay moving tributes to him.

SIR Bobby Robson's family, former players and colleagues and fans of the two football clubs nearest to his heart will come together today to pay moving tributes to him.

The televised Championship fixture between Ipswich Town and Newcastle United will be more than just a football match as the clubs - both of which were managed by Sir Bobby - turn the occasion into a celebration of the football legend's life and career.

Sir Bobby's widow Lady Elsie and sons Mark and Paul will perform the ceremony that will see the North Stand at Portman Road renamed the Sir Bobby Robson Stand and more than 40 ex-players and coaches who worked with the football boss will be introduced to the crowd.

During the half-time ceremony, a huge banner with a portrait of Sir Bobby will be passed into the lower section of the stand bearing his name and a blue and white balloon will be released for every one of the 709 games he was at the helm of the Suffolk club.

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Sir Bobby, who turned Ipswich Town into FA Cup and UEFA Cup winners during his glorious reign in the 1970s and 1980s, lost his fifth battle to cancer on July 31, aged 76.

His remarkable life was remembered during an emotional memorial service at Durham Cathedral on Monday which was beamed back to crowds who gathered on the Cornhill, Ipswich.

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But today will be the chance for Portman Road to celebrate the life of the revered manager.

Colin Kreidewolf, secretary of the Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust, said: 'I think it will be very emotional. It is great we have the Newcastle fans along at the same time.

'We have had the memorial service and this is a celebration for Bobby of his 13 years in charge of Ipswich.'

Shirts and scarves laid in tribute at Sir Bobby's statue at Portman Road following the news of his death will be redressed before the 5.30pm kick off. His former captain Mick Mills will lay a wreath on behalf of his players alongside the directors of both clubs.

Simon Clegg, chief executive of Ipswich Town, said: 'I hope today will be a celebration of the massive contribution Sir Bobby made to this great club, indeed he was responsible for making it great and we shall never forget what he achieved.'

There will be a minute's applause before the game, being shown live on BBC Two, and players will wear special commemorative shirts at the match which will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Founded in March 2008 the charity has raised a total of more than �1,650,000 to carry out valuable research into cancer drugs and treatment and has become his final legacy.

All Angels singing sensation Laura Wright will sing Sir Bobby's favourite song My Way on the pitch at half-time as well as performing Abide by Me before kick-off.

Among former players who will be introduced to fans on the pitch will be Kevin Beattie, Allan Hunter, Frans Thijssen and FA Cup winning goalscorer Roger Osborne.

The son of a Durham miner, Sir Bobby was knighted in 2001 after a glittering career as a player and manager.

He won 20 England caps, playing in the 1958 and 1962 World Cups, before taking his country to the semi finals of the 1990 World Cup in an eight-year spell as the national team manager.

He made his name in management at Ipswich and also went on to manage some of Europe's top sides, including Barcelona, Porto and PSV Eindhoven.


3.30pm: Suffolk Punch horses - which are depicted on Ipswich Town's badge - will be on show in Alderman Park

4.15pm: Directors of both clubs, led by Ipswich chief executive Simon Clegg, will lay wreaths at the foot of the Sir Bobby Robson statue.

5.15pm: Nearly 40 former players and coaches who worked with Sir Bobby during his time at the club will be introduced to the crowd and will line-up alongside the dug-out while Laura Wright, a member of the All Angels operatic group, sings the hymn Abide With Me.

5.30pm: A minute's applause before kick-off.

6.15pm (half-time): Sir Bobby's widow Lady Elsie and sons Mark and Paul will cut ribbons to open the new stand, releasing 709 blue and white balloons to mark the number of league and cup games that Sir Bobby was in charge of with Ipswich.

Former players will return to the pitch to watch the ceremony and Laura Wright will sing My Way - Sir Bobby's favourite song.

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