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Ivybridge is as aptly named a place as you’re likely to find in South Devon.
Because its main bridge is covered in ivy. This displays an almost Germanic level of linguistic efficiency, as if Birmingham was called Unfathomableunderpasses or Grantham was named Dragonbirth.
But Ivybridge has other charms. As well as streams and hills that smell of wet grass even when it’s not rained for a year, it has a slightly industrial corner, with a couple of pubs that seem like on certain nights they can be heard in Plymouth. And it has a boast, which several people mentioned and is also on its website. It goes “Ivybridge was recently the fastest growing town in Europe.
I considered this claim as I was walking down its High Street, and took this photo, to confirm it is indeed a place that’s hurtling towards the size and bustling chaos of Tokyo.
Even when you go out of the centre of town, as much as a whole mile away from the High Street, there are still the sprawling shanty towns you find in any rapidly growing city, and the residents of this ghetto permitted me to take this picture there.
As you would expect, Ivybridge’s stunning growth has become a magnet for youth, and some days there are as many as five young people seen in the city centre, with their youthful catchphrase ‘we got on the wrong bus, we meant to go to Plymouth’.
Inevitably this has led to an increase in crime, which is why the police station has a charming notice on the door that says “There is no reception at this police station. Access is by appointment only.”
This is a much more efficient method of policing than the normal one, as you can book an appointment for when you think you’re going to be burgled, saving time all round.
Amongst its other boasts are that “Ivybridge has ‘Walkers are Welcome’ status”, which is such an improvement on the old system in which they’d shoot the bastards with an arrow.
The ‘Community of Ivybridge’ project informs us “Ivybridge now has apopulation of 15,000, brought about by this rapid growth and change in population. The town council held an open day, unfortunately only one person turned up and they were not from our town.
But despite all this, I shall always remember Ivybridge because I was there on the night Crystal Palace were playing Liverpool. It was the first home game I’d missing for seven months, and didn’t seem to matter all that much, as Palace were safe from relegation. It did matter to Liverpool though, as they need to win to still have a good chance of winning the Premier League.
Palace were at the end of an unimaginably glorious season, predicted by everyone to come bottom but finishing in eleventh place, and every home game was played through a volcanic roar, borne of a combination of jubilation and disbelief.
During the interval I put my radio on, to hear Palace were 3-0 down, and the commentators were suggesting Liverpool should try and score six or seven. I turned it off so I could concentrate on writing bits for the second half. But when I turned it back on it was 3-1, then it became 3-2.
A lad from the theatre popped in to say we were ready for the second half, so I waited at the side of the stage, radio pressed against my ear, and as I was about to go on I heard a shrieking voice squeal ‘And it’s 3-3’.
I walked on, and could only splutter ‘Palace have come back from 3-0 down to Liverpool’, and to my delight a good section of the audience gasped. I said “I can pretend to concentrate on the show but we all know we’d all be living a lie”, so I fetched the radio and placed it next to the microphone, just in time for the full time whistle to go, completing what is now hailed as one of the greatest ever nights at Selhurst Park.
So I will be forever grateful to Ivybridge, for being not only a delightful town prone to absurd exaggeration about its status, but also for indulging my emotions regarding easily the fastest rising football club in the history of the universe.