The Leyland Daf Cup Final was a very significant game for me. It was the game that brought me back to Birmingham City. My dad took me to games when I was a child but I stopped going around 1959. However, I didn’t stop checking their results and continued to check them when I lived abroad. I attended one game in May 1982, when Birmingham beat Coventry with a goal by Mick Harford and avoided relegation. I was back in England with my American husband and wanted to give him a taste of British culture.
We went to Coventry cathedral in the morning and the game in the afternoon. He received more of a taste of British culture than I had planned as we saw fans tearing the backs off seats and police with dogs to escort them back to the railway station. I enjoyed the game but decided that I didn’t want to experience that sort of aggro again.
We were back in England again in 1991 and I didn’t even try to get a ticket for the game at Wembley because I knew I didn’t stand a chance, having not gone to any games since 1982. On the Wednesday before the game my husband said he was going to town and came back with a ticket to the game. He had talked someone at the club into selling him one of the few odd remaining tickets.
So I went to the game. On the way there I wondered if I was being foolish to go on my own to a game where there might be hooligans. But I sat among a really friendly group of men who remained good humoured even when Tranmere equalised. When Gayle scored the winning goal I stood up and yelled like everyone else and went home happy but exhausted. I started going to games again the next season.
The rewind of the game reminded me of what a good game it was. But it wasn’t the game that made me decide to start going again, it was the friendliness and good humour of the people around me. I felt I belonged with them.