On my way to the game last night, I feared the worst but it didn’t happen and I came back feeling proud of my club and my city.
I support Birmingham City because my dad supported the club and took me to games when I was a child. He supported the Blues because his family lived in Chesterton Road, Sparkbrook. And back in 1903, that made you a Blues fan. If my dad’s family had lived five miles further north, I would probably be a Villa fan. I always want to beat them when we play them but I don’t regard Villa fans as my enemies. I have more in common with them than I do with the owners of my club.
When I went to the League Cup game at Villa Park in October 1993, I was given a lift to and from the game by a friend who was a Villa season ticket holder. Last night, I went to the game by train. I spent some time admiring the new New Street Station concourse and then descended to Platform 1A where I stood waiting among a group of people, most of whom seemed to be Villa fans. Then a group of chanting Blues fans arrived and got no reaction other than amusement from the Villa fans. A young man from the Blues group came forward, snatched a claret-and-blue scarf from another young man’s neck, threw it onto the track and aggressively suggested its owner go and pick it up. It usually takes two to make a fight and the other young man didn’t want one so the Blues fan retreated to his group.
I feared the worst: that I would return home feeling ashamed of some of my fellow Blues fans. It didn’t happen. Most of us were there not because we hate the Villa but because we love the Blues. I was proud of my team last night and the way they played. I was proud of my fellow supporters who were still singing at the end of the game and stayed to applaud our team off the pitch. Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the fictional death of Grace Archer. There were some unpleasant incidents last night but grace didn’t die at Villa Park and I was glad that I went.