Big Dave Thomas produced the first copy of Made in Brum for the first leg of Birmingham City’s playoff semi-final against Barnsley in 2000. Amazingly, that game didn’t stop his production of the fanzine. (You may recall that game wasn’t Blues’ finest hour and the headlines said things like “Brilliant Barnsley crush Blues.”) He is still producing it and had reached issue number 414 for the game with Wolves a couple of weeks ago.
In that issue, Dave wrote about managers and mentioned Graham Potter. In January 2011, Potter became the head coach of Ostersunds FK, who were playing in the fourth tier of Swedish football. They achieved promotion to the top tier in 2016 and now have reached the last 32 of the Europa League. This week’s draw has them set to play Arsenal in February. Dave would like to have Potter as the manager of Blues and give him “a minimum of three seasons to change everything.” That’s a nice idea but not likely. At Ostersund, Potter has a chairman who trusts him and has allowed him to use unconventional ways to build team spirit. Here’s a quote about this approach:
‘So far Potter’s squad have collaborated in writing a book, staging an art exhibition, acting in plays and dancing – in, possibly, his most ambitious project to date, they staged a version of Swan Lake.
“I’m not sure how some of our ideas would go down in England,” he says. “But we try to develop individuals as open-minded humans rather than just footballers. Educating players and being part of the community are very important. I want to take people out of their comfort zones and teach them to rely on their team-mates.”’
It wouldn’t work for the club to just bring in Potter as a new manager; the whole set up would need to be changed. In Sweden, Potter’s talent was “given the space to flourish.” Managers are not given that time and space in England.
Dave Thomas is not going to go on producing Made in Brum for ever and has announced that he’s thinking of stopping in May 2019. He’s not getting any younger, doesn’t enjoy getting soaked when he sells it on rainy days and sales have dropped. Fans read the news and views online these days. I’ll miss it when he does stop. It usually contains something interesting to read and Dave’s incredibly loud voice calling out, “Made in Brum” is an integral part of my match day experience. It’s also part of Blues’ history so if you’re going to the game today, why not pick up a copy?