June 16, 2024

Three former Ipswich Town professionals – in Ed Upson, Chris Casement and Tommy Smith – have become the latest names to leave budget-cutting Stowmarket Town.

SuffolkNews’ sister print title the Bury Free Press revealed on Friday that former Yeovil Town, Millwall and Bristol Rovers midfielder has been released from the final year of his contract following a settlement being reached.

While that exit has cost the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division club, full-back Smith’s departure has seen them gain a transfer fee following a move to higher-league neighbours Needham Market.

One-time Northern Ireland capped Casement, who finished the season as player-manager of the Old Gold & Blacks as they missed out on a play-off place, ending in seventh, has also joined a Step 3 outfit from the county.

The FA Youth Cup winner with Ipswich Town in 2005, like Upson, has joined Darren Eadie and Chris Wigger’s Leiston side who narrowly missed out on promotion via the play-offs in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central.

On joining the Blues, 35-year-old Casement, who recently stepped down as manager of Stow with his assistant Richard Wilkins replacing him, is looking forward focusing on playing again.

 

          Let’s Not Forget Our Dutch Masters!

As time passes, it is easy to forget just how much of an influence our Dutch imports had on our club. It all began in August 1978, when Sir Bobby Robson recruited Arnold Muhren, and then, shortly afterward, Frans Thijssen.  I was lucky enough to see them playing for the Blues at their very best. They made a world of difference to that squad.

In 1979, Town recruited Thijssen and the pair cost just 350,000 quid! Muhren played for Town 161 times scoring 21 times, and Thijssen made 125 appearances and found the net 10 times. Thanks to their success at Ipswich they both represented their national side too, and collectively they wore those famous orange shirts a total of 37 times!

But that was not the end of Ipswich’s Dutch connections. When West Bromwich Albion’s new manager Johnny Giles, considered him to be surplus to requirements Romeo Zondervan came to Portman Road in a deal said to be worth around 70,000, and just like Muhren and Thijssen he won the Player of the Year award in 1987. Later Zondervan stated that “my football days at Ipswich were the best in my career.” I saw him hit a great volley into the Everton net at Goodison before Ipswich were relegated to the second division in 1986. He made 274 appearances, scoring 13 times.

How the underrated Arnold Mühren became one of Europe's most decorated  footballers

Gus Uhlenbeek played on the right side of midfield, or sometimes as a right-back. The Suriname-born player began his career with Ajax, as did Arnold Muhren. He joined Town in 1995 and was a regular in the team for a couple of seasons until he fell out of favour and moved to Fulham. Between 1995 and 1998, under the George Burley regime, he made 94 appearances and scored 4 times. His failing was inconsistency.

And finally, let us not forget Martijn Reuser! How could we? The North Amsterdamer also began his career at Ajax but a double fracture of the fibula and tibia put paid to his chances of staying there, and after a loan spell at Vitesse Arnhem, he joined Ipswich on loan from Ajax in the 1999–2000 season after being scouted by Romeo Zondervan!

He immediately made a big impression on the Town fans who begged for the club to sign him on a permanent basis and so it was to be. After Muhren and Thijssen he was probably the most gifted of our Dutch imports and was renowned for his free-kick prowess. The goal at Wembley that took us back to the Premier League will live forever in our hearts. He made 91 appearances for Ipswich Town, and he scored 14 times.

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