Free football book for pupils rejected

EDUCATION chiefs have refused free Ipswich Town books for children to read partly because of bad grammar in an introduction written by Sir Bobby Robson, it was claimed last night.

EDUCATION chiefs have refused free Ipswich Town books for children to read partly because of bad grammar in an introduction written by Sir Bobby Robson, it was claimed last night.

The Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust wanted to give away 500 copies of Ipswich 'Til I Die in the hope that children who were not interested in reading would pick up a copy and improve their literacy.

But Suffolk County Council has said the book is inappropriate because it contains examples of excessive alcohol drinking.

It has also been claimed that education chiefs said the grammar in the book was poor - including an introduction by Town legend Sir Bobby Robson.

But last night a spokesman for the county council was quick to deny this saying it was just the contents of the book that were deemed inappropriate.

The work is a collection of memories from Blues fans young and old about their experiences of following the Portman Road club both home and away.

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Jane Summerfield, who is on the committee of the Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust, said they were disappointed with the council's decision.

'It is a real shame because right from the start one of the aims was to help promote literacy amongst groups that find it difficult to access books - such as young boys who may not be interested in reading.

'As a result we were very conscious of not including anything that would cause offence because we wanted it to be used as an educational tool.

'It was an opportunity to engage school children in the history of the club and the impact it has on the community - some of the contributors are more than 90-years-old and we felt it was important that their memories live on for future generations.

'I find it sad that the education authority can't see past a little reference to beer - after all there are references to alcohol in Shakespeare and Chaucer.'

The main story that appears to have concerned Suffolk County Council is a tale about a group of fans attending the UEFA Cup game in Helsingborg in 2002 who, after drinking on the day of the match, mistook a hospital for a hotel.

Miss Summerfield said education chiefs believed it gave the wrong impression about alcohol consumption and how to behave in a foreign town.

She also said specific reference was made to grammar in the book, including an introduction written by Sir Bobby.

'We believe the story does not glorify alcohol, but instead shows how drink was the cause of everything that went wrong in the story,' she said. 'A teacher could easily read this passage to a class of fourteen and fifteen-year-olds, asking where the fans went wrong, and could use this to introduce a lesson educating children about alcohol.

'They also said the book displays poor examples of grammar and the leader of the committee that turned it down actually made a comment criticising Sir Bobby Robson's introduction. It clearly is emotive when someone criticises Sir Bobby because he has God like status in this part of the world.'

But a spokesman for Suffolk County Council strongly denied that they had criticised grammar within the book.

'We need to be careful with what we would be seen to be endorsing if we offered it directly to pupils as young as 12 in our schools,' he continued. 'We need to be very clear that we are not confusing any messages to young people about how to behave sensibly.'

Profits from the book will be invested into community projects and although the council is not endorsing the publication headteachers can still order copies free of charge if they wish.

For more details contact Mary Cotterell on 07788 782537 or to buy the book visit