Ipswich is the first locale that Villa will visit this Championship season that doesn’t hold the title of ‘city’. It’s actually a town with a population of just over 130,000. Birmingham is habited by almost ten times that number. Population won’t matter if Ipswich’s ‘Tractor Boys’ can get one over the Villans this weekend, though.
Ipswich holds a great deal of maritime importance to England and is one of our country’s oldest settlements, and might possibly be the oldest settlement in the UK, although that is disputed. The name Ipswich stems from Gippeswic. Gippeswic became Gippelwich as the town flourished as a trade hub under the Kingdom of East Anglia. Gippelwich was sacked by the Vikings, who eventually ruled over the town and a large part of Eastern England, with Gippelwich even using coins minted in the Viking kingdoms until King John decided it was enough and established English rule over the area, once more.
Gipplewich became Ipswich and managed to thrive, even becoming a religious hotspot as many would make pilgrimage to a shrine of the Blessed Virgin, Mary, mother of Jesus. Famous pilgrims include Henry the Eighth and his beau, Katherine of Aragon.
We all know how that worked out.
The town didn’t really get the same rejuvenation that the Industrial Revolution provided to the Midlands and thus, remains a town - instead of a city. That doesn’t mean it’s an absolute doghole, though; Ipswich seems equally interesting and unique as Bristol. Ipswich’s industry revolved around agriculture, giving the town’s football team their name.
Ipswich Town are one of England’s most historic football teams. They aren’t exactly small time and like Villa, have enjoyed the success of vintage European nights having won the UEFA Cup in 1981. Ipswich Town haven’t been defeated at home in a European game. Ipswich hosted two of the English’s games managerial greats in Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson, who are immortalised in metal outside Ipswich’s Portman Road stadium.
Ipswich hosts a number of art galleries and cultural festivals - highlighting genres such as Jazz and pop music. An underrated hub of English culture thrives in the East Anglian town.
One of the more darker chapters in Ipswich’s history was scribed nearly ten years ago as a serial killer prowled the streets. Tragedy struck five times as Ipswich became the focus of the entire country for a number of months as a media frenzy descended upon the town.
It’s much brighter in Ipswich these days and Villa fans will have the luxury of visiting another town bathed in history this weekend and whilst not truly featured on England’s coastline as a seaside resort, they can take in the sights of this town sitting on the banks of the River Orwell.