I mainly want to write about Saturday and what made it a good day. But I’m going to start with a few comments on Friday. Black Friday was conceived in the USA as a way to extend the Christmas shopping season by encouraging people to start buying on the day after Thanksgiving. Retailers in this country adopted the money making idea and British people responded by fighting over cheap TVs. The reports were depressing but also thought provoking; I found myself wondering how such disorder would have been reported if it had occurred at a football match. I read criticism of some shops’ security arrangements but no condemnation of shopping and discount sales. But football often gets the blame when football fans fight.
Now for happier news: Saturday!
I was one of the people who paid for the privilege of getting into Bar 8 before the match and hearing Trevor Francis speak for about ten minutes. It cost £10 and included a match programme and a drink, which felt like a bit of a rip-off but I did enjoy getting a close-up view of the man. I also enjoyed the presentation of his Broad Street Star at half time. The St Andrew’s pitch was the right place for such a presentation and a match between Birmingham City and Nottingham Forrest was the right occasion. He received a great reception from both sets of fans.
The 40th anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings was also commemorated with applause on the 21st minute, and the names of the 21 who died listed in the programme and on the big screen. There was also an article in the Made in Brum fanzine, explaining why Dave Thomas, who usually drank in the Mulberry Bush on Thursday nights, was not there on November 21st 1974. It’s a good read.
The match itself was worthy of the occasion. The crowd of 18,595 was the biggest of the season and provided loud vocal support. There was a superb goal by David Cotterill and great drama at the end. For anyone who has looked at the stats and wondered why Tom Ince was booked ten minutes before he came on as a substitute: he was booked for time wasting by holding onto the ball as he was warming up on the sidelines. The referee seemed a bit confused about which substitute had committed the offence and I was told that he’d asked the Blues players for assistance in identifying the guilty one. As often happens in games, my old eyes can’t see the far side of the pitch too clearly and I rely on the reports of those seated around me. I needed help with the penalty incident too since I didn’t see the handball. A very long time seemed to elapse between Morrison’s header being deflected over the bar and the penalty being taken. First came the appeals from the Blues players, then the referee walking to the sideline to speak to the fourth official and walking back to point at the spot, appeals from Forrest players and, finally, the ball in the net. The six minutes of time added on also seemed to last a lot longer before the final whistle sealed the win. Birmingham City have now won three games at home this season, one more home game than they won last season.
If you didn’t see the report on The Football League Show, it is worth watching on iPlayer; start watching around 28.26. There’s some interesting footage from inside the dressing room.