Tag Archives: Bolton Wanderers

No-fear final game

I don’t enjoy final-game escapes from relegation, so It feels good to be safe with a couple of games still to play.  As I thought about this, following our win against Derby on Saturday, it seemed as though we had had mainly final-game escapes.  But when I checked our games since we were relegated in 2011, I found that we had escaped on the final day of the season four times and had been safe before that six times.  Here is a summary of where we finished in those seasons.

SeasonPosition
In table
Goals
for
Goals
against
Goal
difference
Points
2011-12478512776
2012-13126369-661
2013-14215874-1644
2014-15105464-1063
2015-16105349463
2016-17194564-1953
2017-18193868-3046
2018-19176458652 (61-9)
2019-20205475-2150

I went to all the end-of-season games, except for last year when no crowd was allowed. The results of the final games of the season determined whether Birmingham City would be relegated in the 2013-14, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2019-20 seasons.

For me, the most memorable of these games was the one against Bolton on 3rd May 2014. The game was goalless in the first half but then Bolton scored two goals and their second was scored by Lukas Jutkiewicz.  When Zigic scored in the 78th minute and we learned that Doncaster was losing to Leicester, hope was revived.  Blues fans started singing “One goal, we only need one goal”.  And Caddis got that goal in the 93rd minute and it was followed by the most incredible outpouring of joy among our fans.

In contrast to that, all I remember feeling after our win at Bristol City in 2017 was exhaustion.  That was probably because Che Adams scored in the 16th minute and we held onto that lead for the rest of the game. I found it hard to believe that we would not concede a goal in the remaining 74 minutes but somehow we managed to hold on and win.

The 3-1 home win against Fulham in 2018 was played in front of a large St Andrews crowd, which made it more exciting. In my report of that I said I was elated and exhausted by that game. 

The situation when we lost 1-3 to Derby on 22 July 2020 was more complicated.  I’ll quote what I wrote in my report before the game, “An EFL statement has said Wigan will have points deducted after their game but that they can appeal. So there is a possibility that we might not know tonight if we are safe or not. If Wigan get 12 points deducted and end up in 22nd place and Birmingham City end up just above them in 21st place, we won’t know if we are really safe until we know if Wigan’s appeal is successful.  If it is successful then I think Wigan would stay up and we would go down.”  But, despite our loss on the last day, we finished 20th and stayed up. The main thing I remember about that game was that it was Jude Bellingham’s last game for us and how sad he looked at the end of it.

I’d like us to win the last two games of the season but will not mind if Lee Bowyer experiments with the team and we lose. It feels great to look forward to the end of the season without the fear of relegation.

Read more

Inadequate owners

Fan explaining Blackpool situation

Blackpool fans are rejoicing because their club has been put into receivership and that means the era of Oyston ownership is over. Blackpool’s game against Southend next Saturday will be the first home game since this happened and the Guardian reports that:

“Supporters are planning a party, starting with a celebration march from the promenade, and perhaps in some small way it can be a reminder for every other club that has inadequate or reviled owners, that things can change for the better, that it won’t always be one crisis after another, and that one of the reasons why this sport pulls us in, why it is so damn addictive, is that the bad times always make the good ones seem so much better.”

The same article includes accounts of other owners who have endangered the futures of their football clubs. Charlton’s owner has suggested that the Football League buy the club.  There are reports of Bolton not paying staff and players. Notts County is at the bottom of League 2 and HMRC has issued a winding-up petition against it. If Coventry City can’t find a place to play next season it could be expelled from the league.

Not all owners are inadequate or bad but there have been enough problems to suggest that the system needs changing.  There needs to be a better way of ensuring that people who buy football clubs are fit and proper and also know something about the football business. When problems occur there needs to be a way of sorting them out quicker.

Blackpool is one example of how long it can take to get rid of a problem owner.  Owen Oyston bought the club in 1988. His wife and then his son took over after he was convicted of rape in 1996. Valeri Belokon bought a 20 per cent stake in 2006 and became chairman. Owen and Karl Oyston began suing fans who criticised their ownership on internet forums. Five managers came and went in the space of two years and 27 players left before the start of the 2014-15 season. In 2016 some fans started to boycott games and pledged never to return until the Oystons had left. Valeri Belokon instigated court proceedings against the Oystons. On November 6, 2017 the Oystons were defeated in the High Court and ordered to buy out Valeri Belokon’s shares for £31.27m after it was found they had “illegitimately stripped” the club. You can read the timeline  yourself if you want all the gory details.

As a Birmingham City supporter, I know what it feels like to have an owner convicted of money laundering. I can sympathise with other fans whose clubs have inadequate owners. That is why I believe that there needs to be an independent regulator for English football. Let the English Football League concentrate on organising the leagues and let someone else regulate the business of football.

Read more

Exceeding expectations

How fans react to the result of a game depends a lot on their expectations before it. I don’t think I was the only Birmingham City fan who felt fearful before our game with Swansea and that helped me to feel satisfied with the goalless draw.  We played better, created more chances and should have won but we just couldn’t score. But it was the most entertaining goalless draw I’ve seen.   Continue reading

View from the Family Zone

I was a bit more nervous than usual before the game on Saturday.  I’d invited my nephew and his two daughters to the Bristol City game. I really wanted the children to enjoy it as it was the first game they had ever watched. You can’t guarantee enjoyment at a Birmingham City match so there was some fear mixed in with the expectation as we found our seats in the Family Zone.  Continue reading

Taking a break

Birmingham City’s season finished well with the win at Bolton. It was my third trip to watch an end-of-season game at Bolton. In 2010, we lost 2-1 but didn’t mind because we were mid table in the Premier League. Last year we minded a lot and got a 2-2 result to keep us up. This year I thought I didn’t care about the result at all. But during the game I realised that I did care about ending in the top 10 of the Championship and was delighted that our 0-1 win meant we went above Charlton and ended the season in 10th place.  Continue reading

Bolton

The rational part of me thinks that football is only a game and it’s ridiculous that the result of a game can lead to elation or despair. But that rational part is not in control while I’m watching Birmingham City play. As I was watched the game at Bolton I oscillated between despair and elation, between fear and hope.  Afterwards I just felt tired; emotional roller coasters are exhausting.   Continue reading

Further notes on fan power

I have just read an article1 on WSC, about two minor victories for fans. The first was for Cardiff fans whose protests over the new kit led to the club giving season ticket holders a say on the colour of the shorts for their Premier League kit2. They weren’t given the option of changing back to their traditional blue tops but even a small victory is better than nothing. Continue reading