Tag Archives: Football

Preparation

I hope the Birmingham City players’ preparation for tomorrow’s game has gone well.  I don’t want to see another loss. I can’t do anything about their preparation, but I have been doing some preparation of my own.  I’ve updated my cheat sheet, the list of players.  I’m not sure of all the players names yet and have no idea about many of their numbers so I needed to update.

Click here to download a copy of my cheat sheet.

Losing

Losing is not fun.  I can understand why fans leave early when we are losing but it made me sad to see so many people walking out at the Fulham game.  It’s been over 70 years since my dad first took me to a Blues game so I have had plenty of time to get accustomed to the fact that Birmingham City can and do lose some games.  When I did a quick count of relegations on the Wikipedia list of seasons I counted 14 relegations. That may not be accurate but we do get relegated quite often.

It was good to see Troy Deeney score the penalty near the end of the game. Those who left early missed that! I was also encouraged by the fans who stayed to the end, kept singing and clapped the team off the field when the game finished.  (The photo above shows some of them clapping.) Lee Bowyer said in his reaction to the game, “The players are grateful that the fans stayed behind to clap them off – I am grateful for that.”  

I support the Blues whether they win or lose; I appreciate the effort whatever the result. I’m glad I’m not the only Blues fan who feels that way.

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Stress-free Saturday

Over 70 years of supporting the Blues have left me with a tendency to worry before games. I know that, regardless of who we are playing, we could lose.  So Saturday mornings during football season usually find me worrying. But today, I can relax.  I did all my worrying yesterday evening and saw Blues get a win.  Blues went up to 4th in the Championship table.  We’ll probably go down a few places after today’s results but I’m enjoying our elevation while it lasts.

I was glad I went.  It was good to see a crowd in the Tilton, to see Troy Deeney step onto the pitch to play for the first time, and, of course, to see us get the win and a clean sheet.  As Lee Bowyer said in his interview, “clean sheets are not a fluke, it’s hard work.” 

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Five reforms and one last chance

This isn’t a post, it’s just a suggestion of what you should read. The first article I’d recommend is one by David Conn in yesterday’s Guardian, entitled After the Super League fiasco: five reforms that could save the game

The five reforms are:

  • Fairer distribution of money
  • ‘Golden share’ in clubs for supporters
  • Supporter representatives on club boards
  • Strengthened and continual ‘fit and proper persons’ test
  • An independent regulator

Also in the Guardian, there’s an article by Andy Burnham: After the Super League fiasco, we have one last chance to reclaim English football. He suggests legislation based on the German 50 +1 principle. It’s also worth reading.

Wembley half full, half empty after the Carling Cup Final 2011

Ten years ago

The photo at the top of this post is the one that I used on my very first post on this blog. I had been listening to the 2013 League Cup Final as I set up my website and I wrote that I hoped Bradford fans had stayed to applaud their team, who had lost to Swansea. When Arsenal lost to us, most of their fans left quickly and Birmingham City fans found ourselves in a stadium of two halves. One half filled with Blues fans and the other half almost empty. I hoped that, if we had lost, we would have stayed to thank our team for the effort they had made.

I think that supporting a team means supporting them when they lose as well as when they win.That is why I stayed to the end of our 0-8 loss to Bournemouth in October 2014.  And I was more upset by the many Blues fans who left before the end than I was by the way the team collapsed.

I’m hoping for a decent performance this afternoon and will be delighted if Blues win.  It would be a good way to mark the tenth anniversary of winning the League Cup.

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Why?

There are so many things I don’t understand that I often find myself asking Why? I don’t even understand myself and why I do some things. For example, why do I pay to watch Birmingham City games on Blues TV, even though I know that I could be signing up for 90 minutes of misery? 

I know why I buy a season ticket and go to games. It is because I enjoy feeling part of the crowd and I feel that I am doing something just by being there. I’m showing my support. Even if the game is terrible, I like chatting to the people who sit by me. But sitting at home by myself to watch a screen doesn’t feel like supporting my team. It doesn’t make any difference to them whether I watch or not.  One thing I do know, is that I’ll be watching Blues play Wycombe Wanderers tomorrow night. If we win, I’ll be glad I watched but I’ll be miserable if we play badly and lose.

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We won a game

I’m a fortunate Birmingham City fan because I have learned to recover from my team losing games. A few hours after a loss, I remember that it is only game and don’t dwell on any of the details of how we lost.  But the good feeling after a win remains for days, sometimes weeks.

This time after our win on Saturday feels a bit different. I feel happy about it, of course, but I also feel a little dazed, maybe because it seems a bit too good to be true.  That could be because I just listened to it on Radio WM and didn’t see the whole game. I saw the video clip of our goal on Twitter and watched it several times but didn’t see any of our moves that went wrong.  I just saw a very good goal without seeing all the things that didn’t work.  I’m not complaining about that. I hope that the goal has restored Scott Hogan’s confidence and that we can look forward to some more wins.

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Bank Job

While I was listening to Birmingham City’s game yesterday evening, it felt as though football was the most important thing in the world.  But when I calmed down after the terrible 0-4 loss, I knew that football, for me, is just the most important of the non-important things. I hope that, if I was able to choose between Birmingham winning the Premier League or Covid‑19 being abolished, that I would choose to end the pandemic rather than put Blues on the pinnacle.

Sooner or later the Covid-19 pandemic will end but when it does there will be many people left burdened by debt. I’ve just read Bank Job by Hilary Powell and Daniel Edelstyn, which is about debt. They explain why they feel the system is unfair. When banks got into trouble in 2008, the government bailed them out.  But people who get into debt do not get bailed out

The book describes how they moved into an old bank in Walthamstow and printed their own bank notes, which they sold to collectors. They raised £40,000, gave half to local causes and used the other half to buy local debt on the secondary debt market. They then abolished that debt and, to symbolise this, they blew up a transit van containing some of their bank notes.

It is an interesting, thought-provoking book.  It includes a quote from Fanny Malinen describing the Covid‑19 pandemic as a dress rehearsal for the future.  That made me wonder what the post pandemic world will be like. It could give us an opportunity to change some things, but will we?

There is a film of Bank Job, due to be released next spring.  Click here to read more about it. There is also a Guardian article with a picture of the van being blown up.

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Happy Christmas?

Whether or not you have a happy Christmas depends on what you base your happiness. If it depends on Birmingham City doing well then it may be time you changed your allegiance to a more successful team. One thing I have learned in over 70 years of supporting the Blues is how to recover from defeats and not to base my feelings on football.  Though, I must admit that recovering from the defeat by Middlesbrough took longer than usual.

If you were happily looking forward to a family reunion and your plans have been cancelled due to the change in what is allowed, then you have my sympathy.  I hope that it won’t be too long before you can spend time with family and loved ones.

As a Christian, my happiness at Christmas is based on celebrating the coming of Jesus to earth. I can celebrate Christmas regardless of any restrictions.  Whatever you believe, I hope that you can find something to be happy about now and that you still have hope for a better year in 2021. 

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Two wins and three departures

We won two games last week and are in the top half of the table.  I’m struggling to believe it and have to keep checking to make sure it’s true.

The timing was different but the goal scoring order was the same in both games. Birmingham City scored first, then the other team scored and then we scored another goal and won.  My thoughts were similar in both games. We’ve scored, great, but can we hang on to the lead?  They’ve scored; can we hang on for a draw?  We’ve scored again; ref, please blow the final whistle now; why is the time going by so slowly? 

I do believe that Aitor Karanka, given time, will get our team playing more successfully. But I find it hard to believe that Blues will win the game I’m actually watching.  That is why I chose Puddleglum as a nom de plume; he’s a character in a children’s book who always expects the worst: enemies, floods and dragons.

The off the field news from Birmingham City was not so good.  An article by Brian Dick confirmed that three experienced members of staff had left the club:  Colin Tattum, head of media and communications;  Rita Greenaway, first team PA, and Suzanne Smith, erstwhile PA to the board and club coordinator.  I wish them well and think they will be missed. A Tweet by Panos Pavlakis said, “When it comes to Blues as an organisation, Tatts, Rita and Sue were three of the most trustful, reliable, switched on and straightforward persons I came across during my time there … shocking news for me tbh”

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Here we go again

I have to admit that I feel nervous about today’s game with QPR.  As always, I think anything could happen and if we end up losing our third game in a row then I’m going to feel miserable. 

Even if we do lose, I won’t despair completely. I believe that Aitor Karanka is working on a long term plan and that it will bring us stability and safety eventually.  It will take time to get all the players  we need and to work our way up the table and I believe that he should be given that time.  And if he is allowed to continue for two or three seasons, I do believe that we’ll see an improvement in performances and results.  My prediction for this season is that we won’t be in danger of relegation at the end of it.

I’ll be watching the game online and hoping we will get something from it.   I do know that football is just a game and that losing is not really an enormous tragedy but I don’t remember that during a game. It take me about a couple of hours to calm down after a bad game.  But if the team plays well and gets a result, the good feeling lasts the whole weekend.

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Thinking like a Norwegian

There was a very interesting article in the Guardian on Saturday, about how the inhabitants of Tromsø, in Norway, cope with living in a city which does not see the sun from mid-November to mid-January.  It seems that they cope with it well because of their mindset. The article said: 

“People who see stressful events as “challenges”, with an opportunity to learn and adapt, tend to cope much better than those who focus more on the threatening aspects – like the possibility of failure, embarrassment or illness. These differences in mindset not only influence people’s mood, but also their physiological responses, such as changes in blood pressure and heart rate, and how quickly they recover after the event.”

I have decided that I’m going to try to think like a Norwegian.  Watching Birmingham City play can be stressful but I’m going to try to think of it as a challenge to find something positive. After Saturday’s game I can say that we haven’t lost a League game this season and have scored twice the number of League goals that have been scored against us.

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Hugging Strangers

I enjoyed reading Hugging Strangers: The Frequent Lows and Occasional Highs of Football Fandom by Jon Berry. It is well written and many of his stories about supporting Birmingham City resonated with me.  When my dad took me to games, I was one of the few little girls there and it felt like being in a different, much louder and more exciting world.

I took a long break from attending games when I went to university and lived abroad but I always checked their results. I went to only one game in the 1980s, an end of season relegation escape on May 15 1982, in which Mick Harford scored the goal that kept us up. I enjoyed the game but what I saw of destructive fans and aggressive policing made me decide never to go to any other games. I changed my mind about that when I went to the Leyland Daf Cup Final at Wembley, on May 26 1991. I went to the game feeling apprehensive about the possibility of hooligans being there but my mind was put at rest by the friendly group of men sitting around me. And when a stranger, celebrating our victory, kissed me on the way out of Wembley, I didn’t mind at all. I started going to games again.

Cover of Hugging Strangers book

Reading Hugging Strangers is like chatting to a friend about Blues, except than none of my friends deliver such quotable expressions as Jon Berry writes. I liked his description of Blues’ story as  “great moments, dreadful half hours”.  He wrote that “Fry was quite mad . . . the perfect fit for us.” He also aptly described my habit of protecting myself “by starting off expecting the worst and then being happily surprised if it doesn’t happen.”

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Thank you

I’d like to thank Pep Clotet for what he has done for Birmingham City FC and wish him all the best for the future.  The headline for an article about media comments on him leaving included the words ‘Not been an easy club’ and I think that sums it up nicely. The impression was that he was given a difficult mandate. In an article on why he is leaving, Brian Dick commented:

“He was charged with implementing a change in playing style, based around young home-grown players while mounting a tilt for the play-offs. He’s made some progress towards the first two but perhaps the final demand was always going to be too high an expectation.”

I have absolutely no inside information on why he is leaving. But my impression is that it was a difficult job and he did his best. I hope his next job will be easier.

Thank you, Pep.

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Abide with us

Today was going to be FA Cup Final day but it may not take place until August. Singing Abide with me is one of the traditions of the day and some fans plan to honour that by singing it at 5.30 pm today, the time the game should have started. They have set up a Just Giving page, to give money for NHS/Keyworker families decimated by losing a loved to the dreadful C-19 disease. This page also has a video of these fans singing a socially distanced version of the song.

Five years ago they were part of the fans choir who stood on the pitch at Wembley and sang it.  Someone had the idea of getting fans involved instead of it being sung by one person. They had a competition to choose one fan from each of the 64 clubs involved in the third round. The competition consisted of writing a memory of the FA Cup and not testing the ability to sing in tune, which is how I managed to be the Birmingham City fan in that choir.  I wrote a post about it.

I don’t show up in most photos of the whole choir but if you look carefully in the gap bewtween the Arsenal fan and the tall Everton fan you can see part of me, including the BCFC logo on my shirt.

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