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Ex-Files Ipswich: Darren Ambrose

August 19 2010

Darren Ambrose

Darren Ambrose

Ipswich Town’s visit to Selhurst comes at a time when there are many ex-Tractor boys in the Palace ranks, but one stands out above all others, writes Simon Pophale.

When Neil Warnock secured the services of Darren Ambrose on a free transfer from relegated Charlton Athletic, only wearing his rosiest-tinted glasses could he have forseen that the former England Under-21 star would not just re-emerge as a major force, but become the lynchpin around which the team was built.

Darren’s early career saw him go from strength to strength as he made his debut for Ipswich in the Premier League when he was only 18 and despite Town’s relegation, emerged as one of the bright young stars at Portman Road.

The 2002-03 season saw Ambrose claim a regular place in the starting 11 and his ten goals led to considerable interest from managers up and down the country.

Ipswich however, were not in such rude health and in going into administration, Bobby Robson decided to bring the youngster to Newcastle United for a bargain fee of £1 million.

Ambrose would play for Town again, as he played on-loan back at Portman Road in 2008-09 to add a further nine games to his total tally of 46 games and 10 goals.

For Palace, he has been in fabulous form from the first moment. He might have only started as a sub in our first match against Plymouth Argyle, but his two goal salvo in the League Cup at home to Torquay saw his first goals for the club and this was followed up by an ever increasing presence not just on the game, but with the players around him.

If his importance is to be emphasised; between the end of October and the beginning of December 2009 Darren scored seven goals in eight matches. We were on a seven-match unbeaten run and his goal was decisive in six of those eight games.

Two further Ambrose moments stand out from 2010. The first was "that" free-kick against Brad Friedel in the FA Cup Fourth Round against Aston Villa on Valentines Day.

Although he had netted a very similar one earlier in the season against Nottingham Forest, this was on national television against one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League.

We all went barmy as his vicious drive beat the despairing dive of the American into the top corner and minutes later he had a back header which flicked off the bar.

The second standout moment came in entirely different circumstances. We were not just in administration but in a relegation decider against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

On that famous day Darren didn’t just increase his potential transfer fee but he single-handedly kept us up as it was his corner which led to Alan Lee (another former Tractor Boy) to open the scoring but it was his swift shot into the corner from the edge of the penalty area which put us ahead again and his status of cult hero had been assured.

Yet he managed to top this by signing a new contract to keep him out of the clutches of the collection of ex-Palace cronies now festering in West London at QPR.

Darren has once again started the season off in good form, netting a goal in the opening game against Leicester City and his tally to date of 56 games and 21 goals has bettered anything he has done at any other club.

As we sign "Ambrose is an Eagle" and as we emerge from the darkness of the Jordan years into the light of the CPFC2010 era, Darren has finally become the star that he was tipped to be, nearly 10 years ago.

League Debut: 08/08/2009 vs. Plymouth Argyle (H).(D1-1)

First goal: 11/08/2009 vs. Torquay United (H) (W2-1)

Palace Appearances: 56

Palace Goals: 21

Ipswich Appearances: 46

Ipswich Goals: 10


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