Today’s article1 by Colin Tatum is a depressing read though not quite as depressing as its title suggests. I assume some subeditor came up with the title, Birmingham City are teetering on the brink of oblivion, because Tatts used the Horace Greeley quote about apathy being a sort of living oblivion.
It’s hard to assess the state of mind of those who don’t go to games but I don’t think that ‘apathy’ is the right word to describe all of them. Apathy means loss of interest and some of those who stay away are still very interested in the Blues but have various reasons for not going. Some are staying away as a protest against the owner and others because of the standard of football being played. These days there is a wide choice of other entertainment available for anyone who regards football as an entertainment product rather than a lifetime commitment.
As for those who do go to games, the mood of those who sit near me in Block 28 seems to be that of resignation; they don’t like the situation but don’t think there is anything they can do about it. They are like parents who turn up to witness their tone deaf offspring sing in a talent competition; they come because they are committed to the Blues and will support them however dreadful they are.
I remember St Andrews as always being crowded when I went as a child but the statistics show that my memory isn’t accurate; attendance has always been affected by performance on the field. The average home attendance for the 1954-55 season, when Blues came top of Division 2, was 21,002.2 The next season, when they came 6th in Division 1, the average went up to 33,828. The average for the 1964-65 relegation season was 19,714; it was 14,398 for the following season in Division 2. Attendances at most clubs plunged during the 1980’s, as football was affected by mass unemployment, hooliganism and disasters at Bradford and Heysel. The lowest average home attendance at St Andrews was 6,289 in the 1988-89 season, with only 4,026 there to witness the defeat by Swindon on April 18th.
This is not the first time that my club has been in trouble. I don’t believe that there is anything fans can do to make our present owners sell the club. Resignation is an understandable reaction for the fans who continue to attend: I hope that there is also a determination to hang on and be ready to pick up the pieces when we get a chance.
- Colin Tattum comment: Birmingham City are teetering on the brink of oblivion
- Attendance figures are taken from Birmingham City: A Complete Record 1875-1989 by Tony Matthews