The next opponent we focus on is on our opening day opponents, as we take a look at Ipswich Town.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2017-18?
A really strong start to the season saw the Tractor Boys win each of their first five games in all competitions to ride high at the top of the Championship early into the campaign. But their form soon dropped off and the next five results saw them lose four. Inconsistency was letting them down, so much so that it took until mid-November for Mick McCarthy's men to register a first draw of 2017-18. The end of 2017 saw the Suffolk side lose all three of their festive fixtures, but one defeat in their next six games certainly improved the mood around Portman Road. Town's downfall was goals, as showcased in March, where they went four games without finding the net, before McCarthy left his role with safety confirmed, after six years at the helm.
A BIT ABOUT THE BOSS
A Rotherham United legend, Paul Hurst spent virtually his entire 15-year playing career with the Millers, making just shy of 500 appearances. The left-back was part of the team that won the Football League Trophy at Wembley in 1996 courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Shrewsbury Town, who he would go on to manage. He ended his playing days on loan at Conference National side Burton Albion in 2008. In January 2009, Hurst and former Rotherham team-mate Rob Scott were appointed joint-managers of Northern Premier League side Ilkeston Town and the pair led the club to promotion to the Conference North via the play-offs. In March 2011, Hurst and Scott were announced as the new management team of Grimsby Town. They reached the Wembley final of the FA Trophy in 2012-13, but lost on penalties to Wrexham, and later lost in the play-offs to Newport County following a fourth-place finish in the Conference National. Hurst was placed in sole charge in September 2013 and secured promotion to the Football League in 2016 when Grimsby beat Forest Green Rovers 3-1 in the National League play-off final at Wembley. In October 2016, Hurst was appointed manager of Shrewsbury and went on to enjoy two years in Shropshire, keeping them in League One before narrowly missing out on promotion in 2017-18 before being appointed Ipswich boss this summer, replacing the departed Mick McCarthy.
WHAT'S THE GROUND LIKE?
Situated in the heart of Ipswich town centre, Portman Road has been the club's home since 1884. With a capacity of over 30,000, it's a similar size to Ewood Park, and like Ewood, is a ground which has hosted Premier League football in the past. Rovers fans will be housed in the upper tier of the Cobbold Stand for our visit there in early August. The away end is based on the side of the pitch and can accommodate just under 2,000 supporters.
THE LAST TIME WE LOCKED HORNS
Rovers lost out to the odd goal in five at Portman Road back in January 2017.
WHO'S PLAYED FOR BOTH?
DJ Campbell has represented both and so has our very own Tony Mowbray, with the boss playing and coaching at Portman Road, after hanging up his boots. Current assistant boss Mark Venus is another ex-Tractor Boy after spending six years as a player there. Jonathan Douglas, who came through the Rovers youth ranks, was last with Ipswich, whilst an Ipswich academy product in Jordan Rhodes of course had a fruitful spell in front of goal as a Rover. Luke Varney, Cameron Stewart, Tom Lawrence and Paul Taylor are others to have played in the blue and white of Rovers and the blue and white of Ipswich.
Famous singer Ed Sheeran and F1 driver Jolyon Palmer are fans of Ipswich, as is 1/3 of the band Busted - Charlie Simpson. Hollywood actor Will Ferrell supposedly loves the Tractor Boys, whilst Sussex born swimmer Karen Pickering is a Sports Ambassador for Ipswich and is also reportedly a Town fan.