Jay Tabb : I’ve been waiting for this game such a long time

23 Dec

Brentford entertain Ipswich Town on Boxing Day, with both teams knowing that victory will take them to the top of the Championship table. However, for many of us older heads there will be as much significance attached to the game with the return of former Bees hero, Jay Tabb. Now playing for Ipswich after six seasons in TW8, it will be the first time Jay has set foot on the Griffin Park pitch in a competitive game since leaving in 2006 following the play off defeat by Swansea City.

The Last Word was fortunate enough to catch up with Jay on Monday evening to get his thoughts on (amongst other things) the campaign so far, the form of both teams and of course what Friday’s game means to a player who spent his formative years in this part of West London .

Before we get onto Brentford, what about Ipswich Town? It has been an absolutely stunning start to the season for yourselves. They must be exciting times at Portman Road? Definitely. And I imagine it’s pretty much the same as Brentford, really. It’s a very tight league at the top with only a few points separating the top six. We’ve had a good start and our manager’s done a great job.

When he took over we were at the bottom of the league but it just goes to show what happens when you get the ability at the club from the top right down to the bottom. That’s what we’ve done in the last couple of years.

We had a good season last year and just missed out on the play offs. This year it’s just going better at the moment but as I say, its so tight at the top and Christmas is a busy period. Anything can happen and we’ve just got to make sure we pick up as many good results as possible to keep it going.

You’ve mentioned the manager. What do you put the strong start down to? Is it him and being able to build up over a couple of seasons? The first five games we played ok but kind of lost the platform. We didn’t play too well against Norwich in the derby match but then had a very good draw away at Derby. That kind of kicked us on a bit and we had a few good results.

You get in a good routine and a good rhythm and confidence starts to flow. We’re a very organised team with a good squad. We’ve got a couple of superstars but not loads. We’re a hard working bunch of guys who get the job done and do what the manager tells us.

Very much like Brentford in a way. No out and out superstars or household names but you’ve almost snuck up the blindside when people were talking about the likes of Norwich City and Fulham at the start of the season.  I think that’s the story of the top six. Everybody was expecting Derby to do well but then you’ve got Bournemouth, ourselves, Brentford and Middlesbrough. So we’ve kind of crept along under the radar but I think that’s the way we like to do it and the way the manager likes to do it aswell. He’s not interested in all the publicity. It’s just about getting the results.

Brentford and Ipswich Town have taken most people by surprise

Brentford and Ipswich Town have taken most people by surprise

And you are starting to get a good run in the team now. It must be very satisfying for you as an individual? Definitely. At the start of the season I wasn’t too sure how much of a part I was going to play in the team but I kept myself fit and I’m quite reliable. The manger knows that he can put me in and I’ll do a job, which is what happened.

I found myself starting the first few games of the season, then I was out a bit, came back in and at the moment I’m playing quite well. Every time somebody gets injured or suspended in our team, somebody else comes in and does a good job so I’m sure the gaffer is delighted about that. At the moment I’ve got the jersey and I’m playing but I know that I’ve got to do really well in the next game to keep it.

As for that goal against ‘Boro at the weekend… What skill to get above two or three men, especially (and forgive me) given your stature. All about the technique but is a Tabby header something of a rarity? It was probably the best header I’ve scored. I remember scoring a nice one for Brentford against Wycombe when the fans walked to the game but I haven’t scored loads with my head. It was just really good timing with a great ball in from Ted Bishop.

I just timed my jump well so that, as I went up, it didn’t really let the defenders jump. I got above them and it was a really nice feeling to score. I haven’t done it since the start of last season.

When you see the ball hit the back of the net it’s such a great feeling for that minute after. It’s such a buzz and I’d almost forgotten what that felt like.

The Ipswich Town twitter feed captures the aftermath of Jay's goal

The Ipswich Town twitter feed captures the aftermath of Jay’s goal

What do you think has been Ipswich’s strongest performance of the season? I think Saturday has to be up there because Middlesbrough are a very, very strong side. They’ve been on a great run but I think the first half was the key.

We got into a 2-0 lead and scoring the goal right on half time was massive. In the second half they came out and had a real go at us. It was backs to the wall stuff and they had a lot of possession, so I’d say that was up there with one of our best performances.

Given where you are in the table at the moment, what is the target for the end of the season or is it simply that old cliché of “taking each game as it comes”? Yeah. It’s a boring answer but it really is. Obviously all the players and each team wants automatic promotion because the play offs are horrible but it’s just so tight. Last year, everybody knew at Christmas that Leicester were probably going to go on and get promoted but at the moment it is so hard to tell because the top six are tightly packed.

Obviously, at the back of the player’s minds you are thinking of where you are in the league and knowing we’ve had a good start but it can all change really quickly. I think if we are still where we are come March then we can start to get excited, but at the moment it’s a good start but that’s all it is.

Ipswich and Brentford have both had "a good start"

The current table – Ipswich and Brentford have both had a good start

Last time we spoke you mentioned you always look out for Brentford in the cup draws as you’d love the chance to come back and play here. Did you ever expect it to be in the League?Yeah. Brentford have been knocking on the door for such a long time now and I was there for three play-off campaigns. They went down, came back up and look like the sort of club that is just so well run and in such a stable place at the moment. So even though I was always hoping for them in the cup, last year really was the one when you thought, “They’re going to do it this time“.

The fact that we are now second and third in the League is going to make it really special. I can’t wait and I’ve been waiting for this game for such a long time. At the start of the season I wasn’t sure what kind of part I’d be playing for Ipswich, even.

When I saw the fixtures come out I thought there was a chance that if I wasn’t in the team I might have gone out on loan by then but I’ve worked hard, got myself in and hopefully I don’t get injured between now and then. I’d like to think I have a part to play in that game and it’s going to be amazing, I can’t wait to get back there.

How do you think its going to be lining up for ‘the opposition’ at Griffin Park? It’s going to be strange, really strange. I had six fantastic years there and I loved it as a club. Its going to be really weird. I think, usually, it’s strange if you’ve just left the season before and come back but I’ve been away for probably eight years, so it may be a little bit different.

But I’m still looking forward to getting back and seeing a few familiar faces like Peter Gilham etc I’m just looking forward to the game and hoping to get a good reception from the fans – its been a long while and so hopefully they’ll remember who I am.

Do you think getting the warm reception and coming back puts any extra pressure on you or is it the case of switch off once the whistle goes? I think it might put me in a good mood. It’s a great ground, a nice, tight and compact ground. I’ve not been back since the roof has been put on the other end but I think it’s going to be a really good atmosphere.

About a month ago I bought ten tickets from the club because I knew I was going to have so many people asking to come. If I get a nice cheer from the crowd it’ll be great and I’ll certainly give them a nice round of applause back.

But then the game will start and it’ll be Ipswich against Brentford. Obviously there’s Stephen Hunt coming back aswell. I was just with him today and we were talking about the game, both looking forward to it. He did a good job for Brentford too and I’m sure he’ll also get a good reception.

Brentford’s start has taken a lot of people, including many supporters, by surprise. When they got up, what did you expect them to do? I’m not too sure really. I don’t watch loads of football so I haven’t seen them play this season. Stephen Hunt watches a lot more than me and says they’ve been playing some really attractive football, passing it around. That’s what I’m expecting . I’ve spoken to a few Brentford fans in the last week and they’ve said the same.

I think their season has mirrored ours. They had quite a good start, picked some points up then had a bit of a blip before picking things up again. Its just two teams in great form and I’m hoping its just going to be a really great game.

These are the two teams of the moment. Whoever wins will top the Championship table. Do you think that’s going to alter your approach any? No, not really. It’s nice to see yourself at the top of the League but its so early yet. Even though it is nice to see that, every player would probably like to hit the top around March or April time when you can see the finish line. At the moment that’s miles away and you can’t even see it yet.

We’ve just come into half way through the season and so to go top on Boxing Day is nice but its not like you are top by eight or nine points. If you do go top its by one point and, if you lose the next game then you could be back down to fourth.

That’s why getting the result is most important. It’ll be a tough game away to Brentford and I think they’ll fancy themselves. They had a great result at Cardiff last week, especially to be 3-0 up. It’s some place to go. We went there and got beat 3-1. They are a team on really good form but so are we.

What about Christmas day? It is the day before the big game but what does it hold for you? We’ll be training at nine o’clock then I’ll be heading down to London to see some friends and family, before meeting the lads at the hotel on Christmas night. You know you can have a little bit of Christmas dinner but you can’t be stuffing your face with the packets of nuts, Pringles and all that other stuff you associate with Christmas It is one time if year where you have to be really determined and respect the job you are in.

And finally, do you have any message for the Brentford supporters coming into the game? First of all have a really nice Christmas and enjoy the game on Boxing Day. It would be great if I got a good reception and I’ll give it back.

I honestly mean it that I can’t wait for this game. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time and the fact it has come around mow I just can’t wait.

I’m sure the fans will enjoy it aswell so we’ll see what happens on Boxing Day.

Tabby saw out his Griffin Park career in the play offs, fighting to the last

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2 Responses to “Jay Tabb : I’ve been waiting for this game such a long time”

  1. Greville Waterman December 23, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    Well done, great scoop!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Beesotted’s pre-match guide: Ipswich Town | Beesotted - December 24, 2014

    […] Jay told Nick: “It’s going to be strange lining up for the opposition. I had six fantastic years at Brentford and I loved it as a club. […]

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