Lee Carsley had three games as caretaker manager and I attended all three. At Derby I was disappointed that Birmingham City conceded so soon after scoring but, on the plus side, we did score a goal and earned a point. A whole point! I was encouraged.
The Sheffield Wednesday game both encouraged and exhausted me. The man next to me said he was hoping that we would score late in the game so we’d have less time to hold on for a win. Isaac Vassell scored in the 76th minutes and it felt as though we were clinging onto that lead for hours. The relief at the final whistle felt great but I was a nervous wreck for most of the game.
The Hull game was less tiring because all hope died when we went three-nil down in the first half. I can cope with my team losing; I’ve had a lot of practice at that. After Vassell came on, I started to hope for a Blues goal to make the result look more respectable but it wasn’t to be and Sheffield scored three more in the last twenty minutes of the game. We cheered our solitary goal in time added on but it felt like a very sad end to Lee’s short spell in charge. When the players came over to thank us for our support, some of us clapped them. But a man near me was apoplectic and yelled abuse at Cheikh Ndoye, telling him he wasn’t fit to wear the shirt.
I wasn’t foolhardy enough to suggest to that fan that it might be a good idea for him to switch to supporting a team that wins more often than we do. But I do think that, at present, Birmingham City is not the best team for you to support if success is what you want. It is not really a team but an assortment of men brought in by various managers. The problems are probably not going to disappear overnight.
Football fans want different things from their clubs. Fans at one end of the continuum want success and good football; if their team doesn’t do well or plays boring football, they stop going to games. I am at the other end of the continuum; I value loyalty and the feeling of belonging to a group. My team losing, getting relegated or playing atrocious football doesn’t make me stop going to games. I want to make it clear that I’m not claiming to be superior to those who value success more than loyalty. I’m just saying that I don’t feel like a customer who will stop buying a product if the quality isn’t good enough; I feel like a participant who makes a difference just by being there.