Hex Factor: Nemesis Nugent’s Suffolk Punch

HEX-FACTOR! It’s been a journey. But we nailed it. And we really smashed it – the long- standing East Anglian hoodoo.

On a night when both sides went into the game tentatively and labouring under the weight of history, Boro finally delivered a Suffolk Punch as Ipswich Nemesis Nugent tucked home a goal that had “inevitable” engraved on it.  Two-nil. Yes. Get in.

Yes, our jinx-busting powers were more potent than theirs.

1NUgent

Boro have an atrocious record at Ipswich. Seriously poor. Wembley poor. Many Boro fans thought the prospect of victory so far fetched that they haven’t even bothered putting it on their bucket list.  But we also had a secret weapon brimming with mystical portent and it was too powererful for Portman Road.

Boro had not won here since March 1993 when Paul Wilkinson headed in from a free-kick in the first season of the Premier League, at the dawn of football time itself.   Since that win Boro had endured 10 bleak games at Portman Road and lost six of them, leaking 21 goals. That is woeful in anyone’s language. 

I know people who cry at the very mention of the place because of the deep-seated emotional pain it has caused.  That and the still chilly memories of the long trip through sub-zero permafrost for 37 miserable minutes under Mogga.

Boro kicked off having lost the last three games at Ipswich.  And not just lost but having delivered their most disjointed and dismal display of the season including a 4-0 implosion in Mogga’s final full season unravelling when Jungle celebrity Kieron Dyer was the best player. Let that sink in.

There have been “good games” along the way. Entertaining games without victory.

Remember “The Battle of Seb’s Mouth”? Where our hero got his jaw broken in two places but played on and even got a few headers in and briefly was a real life version of the old joke: “He doesn’t know who he is boss”… “Well tell him he’s Franz Beckenbauer and get him back on the bloody pitch”.

Until half-time and in the break the groundstaff, more usually deployed on divot duty, were on their hands and knees looking for his missing teeth.

That was also the night when Andy Halliday stunned the world with a wonder show, scoring one and getting two assists in a 3-3 draw.

Good games but with little reward. No wonder Boro fans travelled in trepidation.

But if you think we were worried, spare a thought for any Ipswich fans who believe in all that Football Inevitability drive mumbo-jumbo.  

Tractor Boys fans come out in a cold sweat at the very thought of David Nugent.  Imagine how scared you would be if the opposition lined up with Marlon King, Peter Crouch and Daryl Murphy and had Jon Stead on the bench… that’s how scared the Ipswich fans were.

Nugent went into the game having scored 14 goals in 13 games against Ipswich. Make that 15 now. Wow. And he has scored on every visit to Portman Road – seven visits in a row. Eight now.  He’s scored against them for Preston, Portsmouth and Leicester and even scored at Portman Road when he came with the England Under-21s.

It was amazing the bookies were even taking money on him to net.

2Nuge

And nemesis Nugent has never been on a losing side against Ipswich, with 10 wins and three draws… that is a powerful potent. Push the jinx threat level up to 11.

It wasn’t easy of course. This is Boro. Dimi had to make a string of crucial saves in the first half when it was nip and tuck.  But they stepped up a gear after the break and a rocket from the boss and once the first went in resistance melted and Boro stepped up a gear with Nugent scoring his inevitable goal after a laser guided through ball from Stewie sent him to the edge of the box.  It was, of course, inevitable.

Aitor Karanka’s Boro have made a habit of smashing old jinxes this season.  They went to Hillsborough and beat Sheffield Wednesday where they routinely lose and have twice been relegated – and won with ease.  Then, presumably after a late night exorcism and sprinkling of holy water, Boro went to Nottingham Forest and won there as well for only the second time since decimalisation.

And Wolves too. We’ve been woeful there over the years.  Breaking hoodoos is a very important habit to get into. If we can do that a few more times in the weeks to come – Birmingham for instance – we could turn this season into a special memory.

Let’s hope we don’t need to rely on jinx-busting at Wembley though. That is too much.

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We win here, they win there. It’s the law.

Since the last victory away at Portman Road – 1-0 in March 1993, a Paaaaauuul Wilkinson header from a free-kick – Boro have lost seven and drawn three.  Hoodoo you do. And jinxed Boro haven’t just lost, they have routinely reserved the worst display of the season for the trip to the Tractor Boys. No wonder so many battle-scarred supporters write this fixture off in August.  And Ipswich are going well after a slow-start.  And after a barren opening phase our summer transfer target Daryl Murphy has started scoring. *Gulp*

BUT…  the Portman Road faithful are fearful because for once we can out-hex them  by starting with the ultimate Nemesis: David Nugent. Boro’s £4m summer signing has an INCREDIBLE scoring record against Ipswich. He’s scored 14 goals in his last 13 matches against them for Preston, Portsmouth and Leicester. And two more playing at Portman Road when playing for England Under-21s.

Boro can also throw onto the Great Table of Superstition an unbeaten league record on TV this season with a draw at Preston and wins over Forest, Leeds and QPR.  And the trip to the City Ground is a far bigger historic hoodoo than Ipswich. So people who believe in that kind of mumbo-jumbo can take heart. And put their daft quid on Nugent to score.

Ipswich is a lovely club, a friendly club staffed with nice people. It is a great old school ground steeped in history. And a proud club that is embedded in its community. Respect. But I hate going there. History weighs heavy. I remember the Battle of Seb’s Mouth, the game where our hero got his jaw broken in two place and had his teeth knocked out in a clash with Joe Bennett… the game where Andy Halliday ran riot. And I was there for the inevitably abandoned  Ice Road truckers game when the sub-zero showdown was ended after 37 minutes when we were being torn open. And a nightmare 4-0 implosion when Kieron Dyer was the best player. Let that sink in.

This time? I’m backing Boro to increase the angst over the low thrills, defensive grind and “not win well enough” in a tight 1-0 that will put them top. Nugent obviously. That’ll do. I’m happy to “not win well enough” all the way through to May if needs be.

Over to you. Usual drill: predict the score and how it will pan out in the latest televised clash.  Predict the travelling Boro crowd. Predict what the pundits will say. Predict the temperature. Predict which players will be “amazing.” etc.

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324 thoughts on “Hex Factor: Nemesis Nugent’s Suffolk Punch

  1. As an aside, emails are dangerous as well. It is so easy to be curt, rude and offensive with the written word.

    I try to think carefully about the words I use, and how I use them, so that I don’t offend or appear condescending. It is very difficult, the written word doesn’t have the nuances of the spoken word or the expressions of the human body. Despite my best efforts and good intentions I sometimes have a little wince when I look back at what I have written..

    The cc is a dangerous device, I have seen it in action where there has been a minor problem and even though sorted one of the parties has cc’d her boss and maybe the other parties boss in as well then all hell breaks out. You cannot put the genie back in the bottle.

    I cant see there being 24,000 at the Riverside

  2. Man only evolved to be polite to others within their own close proximity in order to avoid the physical consequences that would otherwise ensue – the greater the disconnection of the recipient the easier many people find it to offend with impunity.

    The exception of course is when we form an online community like this one!

      1. Tomorrow is an Important game, the first leg of a big double which could have a big effect on our chances going forward. I hope the players have trained and rested in the correct manner this week, because the Christmas spirit can be infectious and cause minds to wander from the subject in hand.

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