It was 2007 and Birmingham were drawing 2:2 with Wolves at Molineux. Back then Steve Bruce looked a little less like a celeriac in a tracksuit, Mick McCarthy looked a little less like a grey post box and I’d been living in London for a year and a half. I was watching the game in a pub in Raynes Park, having just played football myself for a South London Sunday league team whose name I can’t recall. Blues had just equalised courtesy of a bullet header from Nicklas Bendtner and our tails were up. Win this game and Birmingham City rise to the top the Championship. But before I carry on…
I was (and still am) living in London for work. Birmingham will always be my home and I lived there until I was 21. I attended my fist game at St Andrews at the age of seven and my earliest memories include standing on the kop with my Dad watching Andy Saville kicking an orange ball around in the snow. I was at the old Wembley when Paul Tait converted Ricky Otto’s cross against Carlisle, I was in the paddock when Blues beat Villa 3:0 in our first season in the Premiere league and I was at the new Wembley when we won the Carling Cup. Supporting Birmingham City not only keeps me linked with my beloved home town but my Mum, Dad and brother too.
That’ll do in terms of context I reckon, let’s go back to 2007, to the pub in Raynes Park with the top of the Championship beckoning.
Suddenly, horrifically, the channel changed across all the screens in the pub to some irrelevant Premiere League nonsense. I rushed to the bar pleading for the channel to be changed back, just on one screen if necessary, in the kitchen even, or maybe in the chicken shop next door? My pleas fell on deaf ears. The barman pointed out that I was the only bloke in the whole pub who was interested in a piffling encounter between two lower league teams, and that the rest of the pub wanted to watch super-duper Premier League wonderfulness. Appalled and outraged I slumped into a chair and followed the rest of the game via the worst possible means: text updates. I doubt a more tortuous method of following football exits. I think I’d almost rather hang around outside St Andrews and try to divine the action from the noise of the crowd than suffer text updates. Slowly, excruciatingly, I was informed that Cameron Jerome (he’s reared his head again recently hasn’t he?) had scored a third and that Colin Doyle had saved a late penalty. I was pleased of course, but felt utterly robbed that I hadn’t been able to finish watching the game I’d started. This is a situation I have found myself in countless times living away from Birmingham trying to follow the Blues and each time it happens it frustrates me beyond measure. It’s the price I pay for not living in the city of the team I support and thank goodness for the developments of social media and so forth because it is, happily, becoming easier.
In these accounts I’m going to detail the life of a lonely Blues fan marooned far from his happy abode. I do encourage other isolated Blue Noses to get in touch with me or with BCFC Followers, so perhaps we can all feel a little less alone on the long, long road.
Words by Thomas Willshire