Tag Archives: Jeff Hall

Blame

WBA won and we lost. That happens in football. I personally believe it is better to accept that losing happens rather than looking around for someone to blame. We’ve all probably felt like victims at times and that’s not a problem. It can become a problem if you always blame someone else or the English Football League (EFL) for everything that goes wrong.  Blaming others can be a way of avoiding taking any responsibility ourselves.

It was clear from the chants at the game that Birmingham City fans don’t like the EFL. For some it was just a topical chant. But one man told me that the EFL had instructed referees that they should rule against Birmingham City in unclear situations.  I don’t believe that.  I think that referees can make mistakes and can also have an unconscious bias against a team or players because of their reputations. I don’t believe that they start games knowing which side they are against. I’ve also spoken with someone who thinks the gambling industry has a lot of control over games. I really hope that’s not true.

I might be naïve and completely wrong, but I prefer to believe that the world is not conspiring against us.  Blues will lose some games and when they do, we need to get over it and look forward to the next game. I think that maybe my age has got something to do with my attitude.  I’ve seen an awful lot of games that Blues have lost.  I also remember Jeff Hall and have written about him several times on this blog. He was my favourite player and I was devastated when he had polio and died. A player dying a couple of weeks after playing in a game is a tragedy; losing a game is part of normal life.

I was glad that I had gone. The game was eventful, the Blues players put in a decent performance and I survived the maelstroms following our two goals as men threw themselves around in joyful exuberance. The Hawthorns has a quote from Psalm 23 along one of its stands that includes the phrase “quiet waters”.  It wasn’t at all quiet where I stood, and it felt good to be part of that crowd.

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Time’s wingèd chariot

Loftus Road is a small stadium, the third smallest stadium in the Sky Bet Championship this season. It’s not a comfortable place to visit. When I went there, I felt like a sardine crammed in a tin. Respect to the Blues fans who are going today, and I hope they see a good game. I’ll be listening on the radio.

There are things I like about going to away games. Birmingham City’s travelling fans are incredible and it feel’s great to be among a loud, supportive crowd. But standing for 90 minutes is tiring and by the end of a game I feel very old.

More and more things make me feel old these days.  I just read about Albert Finney dying and that brought back memories of watching him at the old Birmingham Repertory Theatre in the 1950’s.  I remember seeing him as Henry V and also saw him in less memorable roles.  Once when I was clearing out a pile of Rep programmes, I noticed his name listed in the actors playing the crowd. That was over 60 years ago.

And it’s nearly 70 years since my dad first took me to St Andrew’s. I don’t remember exactly when that was but do remember Gill Merrick, Jeff Hall and the roar of the crowd. I also remember the first time I heard ‘Keep right on’ sung, at the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough in 1956. My memories may be rose-tinted but I think the crowd back then was very supportive. That’s why I’m thrilled by the atmosphere at games this season, with our crowd supporting effort and commitment even when it doesn’t end with a win. It reminds me of the crowds I stood in when I was a child and it feels good.

By the way, the title of this post is taken from Andrew Marvell’s poem To His Coy Mistress:

But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near  
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New season, new numbers

The season starts tomorrow. The transfer window won’t close for another four weeks but at least there will be some real results to discuss and not just transfer rumours. I try to avoid reading about who Birmingham City might sign or who almost signed, but it’s impossible to avoid seeing some of the headlines. Continue reading

Worth reading

I don’t have time to write much but want to recommend an article and book that I’ve read recently.

The article, The forgotten story of … Jeff Hall, the footballer whose death turned tide against polio, was in the Guardian yesterday. I haven’t forgotten him. He was my favourite player and I was devastated when he died. As well as being a good but sad read, it has a great photo of him making a sliding tackle on a snow covered pitch.  Continue reading

Jeff Hall’s widow

I was sorry to read the report that Jeff Hall’s widow is terminally ill but pleased that she has received an award from the British Polio Fellowship in recognition of the work she did to publicise the facts about the disease that killed him.  Jeff Hall was a great player for Birmingham City. His wife is a great lady who played an important role in the eradication of polio in this country.

Widow of Blues star Jeff Hall honoured for work to highlight disease which killed him

Jeff Hall

On Easter Monday, Birmingham City FC joined with the British Polio Fellowship to commemorate the 55th anniversary of Jeff Hall’s death. I was glad to make a donation to help those still suffering from the effects of polio because I’m old enough to remember what a terrible disease it was. As the collectors held out their tins I heard a young fan ask, “What’s polio?” and was glad that she hadn’t heard of the disease that was so feared when I was a child.  There is no longer a risk of polio infection in this country and Jeff’s death played a part in the elimination of that risk.   Continue reading