You have probably inferred from the title that this is not going to be a match report on Saturday’s match. It’s a plug for the BBC programme Marvellous. If you haven’t seen it yet, go to iPlayer and download it now. It’s funny and sad and watching it will do you far more good than reading reports of how Birmingham City lost and whose fault is was.
Marvellous tells the extraordinary life story of Neil Baldwin. He was labelled as having learning difficulties but has no difficulty making friends. His circle of friends includes politicians, bishops, and just about everybody at Keele University, which gave him an Honorary Degree last year for his contribution to the Keele community.
Neil is a Stoke City fan and made friends with Lou Macari while he was managing Stoke. Lou enlisted Neil to work as the kit man and morale booster for the team. He also brought Neil on as a player in a testimonial. Malcolm Clarke, another friend of Neil and Chair of the Football Supporters Federation, said,
“The sight of Neil coming on at Villa Park to play for Stoke City in Gordon Cowans’ testimonial remains the most extraordinary and funny thing I’ve ever seen on a professional football field, closely followed by the sight of him on the bench at Hartlepool, dressed in a full top hat and tails.” (Quote from FSF site.)
For me, Marvellous was a timely reminder that football is about more than winning games and amassing points. It’s also about having a laugh. Maybe I’m looking back through rose tinted glasses but I remember a time when the crowd played more of a part in the entertainment, with their songs, chants, terrace humour and dances too. I can’t turn the clock back or dictate what others do. I can just keep telling myself that it’s only a game and do my best to hang on to my sense of humour. I have a feeling that, to get through this season, Birmingham City fans may need all the graveyard humour we can generate.