Category Archives: Life in general

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  
Read more

Inequality

We live in a crazy world.  Lionel Messi, the highest paid footballer last season, received $111,000,000. Does he deserve that much? More and more people in this country are relying on food banks. If you think that they deserve that, try watching I, Daniel Blake on BBC iPlayer and see if you change your mind.

Yesterday evening, I went to a performance of Commonism, at the Rep.  It’s a conversation between two men, one British and one Norwegian, talking about the world today and imagining how the future could be better. At the end, they hand out copies of their manifesto. This suggests a maximum limit on the economic resources any one individual can possess and a universal basic income. I imagine that it would be a lot easier to get poor people to accept a basic income than to get rich people to limit what they own. The performance was thought provoking and I had much to think about as I walked back to my bus stop, past all the rough sleepers.

When I got back home, I saw the news about the latest Brexit squabble in Parliament. It seemed a far cry from the conversation I’d just listened to, about learning to disagree well. There was also news of Burton’s heavy defeat at Manchester City and the nightmare journey to get to Manchester experienced by some of their fans. The result was not that surprising when you consider the value of their squads. Sky reported that,

“Burton Albion’s squad value this season is around the £6m mark   … Manchester City’s current squad is valued at just over £1bn, with their most expensive acquisition, Riyad Mahrez, joining the club last summer for £60m.”

In other words, one of Manchester City’s players cost 10 times more than Burton’s squad. That enormous inequality just doesn’t seem right to me, with most of the TV money flooding into the Premier League. I can understand why owners of clubs lower down the pyramid pay out too much in the hope of getting promotion.  Birmingham City paid out too much; we are still waiting to find out what price we’ll have to pay for that. We are not the only club with financial problems. The situation feels more serious than just a few clubs breaking some rules; it feels as though the whole system is broken.

Read more

More than eleven

Solihull Moors FC has a great slogan: Moor than eleven. Every successful football team has more than eleven involved in that success. Yesterday evening, the Moors earned a replay against a team from higher in the pyramid. That was achieved by players, coaches, other staff and fans too. It was also one of the more exciting no-score draws I’ve watched. Continue reading

Values

On Heritage Open Day, Bournville Junior School was one of the places that was open and I was able to visit the school I attended as a child. I saw my name written in a book recording when I had started and left the school and I walked around looking at displays and posters. The poster on values listed the values that I could remember being taught by that school and by my parents. Continue reading

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an amazing kaleidoscope of tall buildings, mass transit trains, trams, buses, cars, handcarts and people.  There are lots of people in a hurry, going places, but there are also small parks dotted around the city for those who want to pause and be refreshed. There’s food, glorious food including some I fancied, the papaya and red onion salad was a favourite, and food that I didn’t try such as seahorses. Continue reading

Snow, fog and not casting the first stone

The last edition of the Made in Brum fanzine had a good question on its cover: “Has Cotterill broken Blues or have Blues broken Cotterill?” For me the question is unanswerable because it isn’t either/or but both/and.  Blues handed Cotterill a near impossible job and he didn’t manage to do it. Continue reading

Millwall

Last year Millwall won the Family Club of the Year award but fans still chant, “No one likes us.” Some of them probably deserve their reputation as hooligans but the majority go to watch the football not to fight. Many feel that their reputation is not deserved and one fan, Bill May, blames the BBC. Continue reading

Friday thoughts

It was freezing cold on Tuesday night and we lost 1-4 but I didn’t regret going to the game. Birmingham City played well for the first 90 minutes though they ran out of steam in time added on. The attendance of 13,175 wasn’t brilliant but it was good to have Blues fans in the Tilton as well as the Kop. Continue reading

Cardiff game

Birmingham City is not playing as I type this blog, so I am still reasonably rational.  I know that football is a game and if we lose it won’t be the end of the world.  I also know that when I’m at St Andrew’s this evening I’ll be in my game-watching mode, which isn’t at all rational. Continue reading

Fans not numbers

Values are important in football. To quote from an earlier post that I wrote: “I believe that it’s good for managers, players and fans to be grounded in the world outside football, with family, friends and values that keep them from being crushed by what happens on the pitch.”  Continue reading

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