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.
That brought back memories of the Leyland Daf Cup Final in 1991, a day that will always rank as a football highlight for me. It was the day I came back to Birmingham City F C.
My dad took me to games when I was a kid but I’d drifted away in my teens and stopped going around 1958. I did go to one game in 1982, when I gave my American husband a nicely balanced tour of British culture by taking him round Coventry Cathedral in the morning and to the game at Highfield Road in the afternoon. Blues escaped relegation by winning 1-0 with a goal by Mick Harford in the 85th minute.1 I enjoyed the game but not some of the things going on with the fans. Some men near us tore their seats apart to make weapons and the police were out in force.
We were back in England again in 1991 and somehow my husband got hold of a ticket for me to go to Wembley to see Blues play Tranmere in the Leyland Daf Cup Final. After witnessing the hooliganism in 1982, I was a little nervous about going to Wembley on my own but the crowd was friendly and good humoured. And I was up on my feet yelling and cheering with all of them for the last few minutes of the game, after Gayle scored the winning goal with an incredible overhead kick. The following season saw me back at St Andrews and I kept going until we moved to the USA at the end of 1995. I returned to Birmingham and to the Blues in 2008.
The pleasant memories from the Leyland Daf Final included travelling back on the underground with fans of both sides. The previous year, Tranmere had won the cup but lost the promotion playoff game. After Blues beat them in the cup, the Tranmere fans were convinced that it was going to be the other way round that year, and that their defeat in the cup meant they would win the playoff final (which they did). So the Tranmere fans were almost as happy about the result as the Blues fans were and we had a cordial discussion about the game.
I also have good memories of Blues playing away at Tranmere, in the League Cup on this day 18 years ago (November 8th, 1995). It was the first time we’d played them since the cup final in 1991 and we beat them 3-1 after extra time. We could be playing them again next season as they are currently in League 1.
Although Blues are above Tranmere in the league, Tranmere are more secure financially. However, the majority shareholder wants to sell his shares and Tranmere Rovers Trust are trying to raise £500,000 to buy them. 2 I wish them well.
All game statistics in this post were checked in Today’s the Day: Birmingham City Football Club, 126 years of history in 365 days.
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