Tag Archives: Fulham FC

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.

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Fulham

Craven Cottage is one of my favourite away grounds.  The walk from Putney Bridge underground station to the ground has to be one of the pleasantest approaches to a football ground in this country.  I enjoy going there even when we don’t win.  And when we win, like we did in 2015, the game is lodged in my brain as one of my favourites. 

I won’t be walking alongside the River Thames today, hoping for a good game.  I’ll be looking on my laptop, dreading another loss. At least nobody will see me if I’m crying by the end of the game. 

Whatever happens, I feel sad that I’m never again going to be in a stadium watching Jude Bellingham play in a Birmingham City shirt.  I hope that his move will work out well for him.

I’ll include some pictures from 2015 to cheer myself up.

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Thoughts on Fulham and WSC

Craven Cottage is one of my favourite away grounds. The location is great and I can’t think of a pleasanter approach to a stadium than the walk beside the River Thames. Four years ago, Birmingham City won there, 2-5.  I’m not expecting Blues to score 5 goals tomorrow but am hoping for a win. Our home performances have been good so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to hope.

We’ve also signed a new forward, Jérémie Bela. The article about him on the official site says, “Possessing fast feet, pace and good ball control, Bela is a goalscorer as well as goal creator.” I’m not sure if we’ll see him play tomorrow but we certainly need someone who can score goals.

I mainly read football news online but I do buy the When Saturday Comes magazine. It’s a good read and always contains something interesting.  I am reading through Issue 393 at present and have just read about how Haringey increased their crowd. They gave away free season tickets. The chairman argued for this by saying, “It will bring people in, and if they only buy a cup of tea, we’ll make some of the money back.” 

This report put me into daydream mode, in which I decided that if I owned Birmingham City FC I’d give away a few hundred free season tickets to the local residents who live around the ground and are inconvenienced on game days by the crowds, the road closure and bus diversions. My daydreams have grown more ambitious since I first started daydreaming about owning the club after it went into administration following the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. That put the Kumars’ businesses, including BCFC, into receivership. Back then I sat in the upper tier of the old railway end stand and I daydreamed that if I were the new owner I’d make sure there was always a working lightbulb in the ladies loo.

The current issue of WSC includes a plea for help.  Their newsagent sales have declined slightly and their advertising revenue has gone down because they are turning away all gambling ads.  So they need more income and are asking readers who can afford it to join a supporters club and contribute something each month. The Guardian newspaper has been running a similar scheme and is now supported by over a million people around the world. I’m hoping that WSC’s scheme will also be successful. If you have never read WSC, buy a copy and see it you like it.  And if you do read it, ask yourself if you want to help keep it running and if you can afford to join its Supporters’ Club.

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Elated and exhausted

It has been nearly a week since Birmingham City ended their season with a memorable win against Fulham. It was an incredible game, with a full St Andrew’s providing loud support from before kick off to the post-game players parade around the pitch.  It was absolutely wonderful and I felt elated.

But I also felt exhausted, worn out by the rollercoaster emotions generated by an end-of-season escape from relegation. Continue reading

A more splendid life

IMG_4527-sThe Fulham game reminded me of why I first fell in love with football. When my dad first took me to St Andrew’s it was like going to a different world: a world of noise and excitement. As J B Priestly said, going to a football match “turned you into a member of a new community, all brothers together for an hour and half … having pushed your way through a turnstile into another and altogether more splendid life.” Continue reading

Abiding memories

It was the thought of standing on the Wembley pitch that made me want to be part of the Fans Choir for the FA Cup Final.  And it was an amazing experience to stand on that turf but not the best part. For me, the most enjoyable and memorable experience was meeting the other fans and the way so many strangers quickly became friends. Continue reading

Managers

I think it was Alex Ferguson who said he’d never played for a draw in his life. I don’t think Lee Clark is playing for draws either but we got another one at Norwich. This time he received less blame for losing the lead. Most fans acknowledged that Norwich has better players and were glad that Blues had got a point. Clark still has his critics, of course, as do a lot of other managers. Continue reading