Tag Archives: Leyland Daf Cup

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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Matchday rewind

The Leyland Daf Cup Final was a very significant game for me. It was the game that brought me back to Birmingham City.  My dad took me to games when I was a child but I stopped going around 1959. However, I didn’t stop checking their results and continued to check them when I lived abroad. I attended one game in May 1982, when Birmingham beat Coventry with a goal by Mick Harford and avoided relegation.  I was back in England with my American husband and wanted to give him a taste of British culture.

We went to Coventry cathedral in the morning and the game in the afternoon.  He received more of a taste of British culture than I had planned as we saw fans tearing the backs off seats and police with dogs to escort them back to the railway station.  I enjoyed the game but decided that I didn’t want to experience that sort of aggro again.

We were back in England again in 1991 and I didn’t even try to get a ticket for the game at Wembley because I knew I didn’t stand a chance, having not gone to any games since 1982. On the Wednesday before the game my husband said he was going to town and came back with a ticket to the game.  He had talked someone at the club into selling him one of the few odd remaining tickets.  

So I went to the game.  On the way there I wondered if I was being foolish to go on my own to a game where there might be hooligans. But I sat among a really friendly group of men who remained good humoured even when Tranmere equalised. When Gayle scored the winning goal I stood up and yelled like everyone else and went home happy but exhausted. I started going to games again the next season.

The rewind of the game reminded me of what a good game it was.  But it wasn’t the game that made me decide to start going again, it was the friendliness and good humour of the people around me.  I felt I belonged with them.

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Bad news, good news and speculation

Michael Morrison’s injury is the bad news this week. Let’s hope his recovery time is nearer to two weeks than six weeks.  He is an important part of Birmingham City’s defence but not essential it seems; they managed to keep a clean sheet even though he had to go off early in the game.  Continue reading

Psychological torture

Among my Christmas presents was The Worst-Case Scenario Daily Survival Calendar 2014, a very appropriate choice for a Birmingham City supporter.  The club’s perilous financial situation does not bode well for the year ahead so 2014 is probably going to be more about surviving than thriving.   Continue reading

Tranmere Rovers

I’ve been thinking about Tranmere Rovers today.  The chain of thought that led to that club was rather circuitous.  Birmingham City in the relegation zone set me thinking about playing in the 3rd tier of English football.  And then I tried to think of the upside to that (it wasn’t easy) and thought of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.  Continue reading