When Birmingham City play Leeds tomorrow there will be the usual exchange of insults and taunts between the two sets of fans. It’s part of the tribal culture of football; having a common enemy helps to unite a group. There have been times this season when different opinions on who the enemy was created a toxic atmosphere at St Andrews. The feel-good factor returned when we played Nottingham Forrest and our most vocal fans joined together to jeer at Alex McLeish instead of arguing among themselves.
So I agree that during a game it’s the fans’ job to oppose the opposition but I do wish that hostilities would cease when the final whistle is blown. I just watched a video of the crowd trouble after the match on May 11th, 1985 and was reminded of Ian Hambridge, the 15-year-old boy who was crushed to death by the wall that collapsed. I would hate to return to the kind of violence that occurred at St Andrews that day.
There is no good reason why there should be trouble. Leeds fans are not our enemies; we have more in common with them than we do with the owners of our own club. They also have had an unpopular owner and a protracted takeover. Ken Bates sold the club to GFH last November but Bates will stay on as chairman during the transitional period and then become president. This has led Leeds United Supporters Trust to ask who is actually running the club. Click here for the link to their article on this and the Ofcom ruling upholding complaints about comments that Bates made on Yorkshire Radio.
Get behind the Blues tomorrow and taunt the Leeds fans if you want. But when the game is over, please remember that Leeds fans are just people like us and they too have been through a lot of grief supporting their club.