A little post match ritual of mine is to delve through what Dave Gorman calls the bottom half of the internet to see how the fans are reacting. Ploughing my way through the copious slurry of negative comments and tweets never fails to make my feelings of frustration seem positively, well, positive. Reading these jerkiest of knee jerk reactions can be quite dispiriting and inevitably something of an online backlash asserts itself with fans urging their compatriots to stop being so bloody miserable. A prevalent example of these calls for reason is a post urging supporters to ‘face the reality of the situation’. It’s a plea that seems to come from a place of greater experience and wisdom isn’t it? “These impetuous young fans who only remember the Premiere League days are delusional if they expect anything better from Birmingham at the moment. The reality of the situation is…”…blah blah blah.
Having kept myself abreast of off-field matters over the last few years (largely thanks to Daniel Ivory) I am grimly aware of ‘the reality of the situation’ and I can’t say it makes me feel any better. All ‘the reality of the situation’ does is drape a depressing veil of context over Brum’s plight. We’re owned by shadowy figures whose motivations are ambiguous at best and what money they were willing to cough up has been largely misspent leaving us with an imbalanced squad that struggles to perform consistently.
BIRMINGHAM! *Clap! Clap! Clap!*
BIRMINGHAM! *Clap! Clap! Clap!*
It isn’t any wonder then that in these difficult times I sometimes snub reality in favour of something a little more…virtual. I am, of course, talking about video games and how they offer a chance for a lonely Blue Nose to make Birmingham City their own.
I’m aware that by exploring this topic I’m risking making what is already a rather niche blog even nicher(?). Well, you’ll have to forgive me as I’m about to take it a step further by outing myself as a Pro Evolution Soccer user as opposed to Fifa. I’m going to resist the temptation to debate the pros and cons of the two football game franchises in deference to readers who are already getting a little bewildered (and probably bored!). All I’ll say is that if you’re the kind of shallow gamer who values authentic kits over gameplay you’re welcome to your EA nonsense! Whoops! Forgive me, I’ll heave myself back on track…
The joy of computer games is that you can take control of Birmingham City and make them great again. In truth you can make them greater than they ever have been. On my Master League at the moment a thirty one year old genius Connor Trueman guards the posts while a reborn Luca Toni leads the line taking on-field instruction from his club captain Phillipp Lahm. Last ‘season’ I won the league, the cup and the Champions League and am now currently in negotiations with Diego Maradona – and it’s wonderful. Ridiculous, a definite waste of my time, but wonderful. The sheer lunacy of the Birmingham City team I have created provides the perfect cure for ‘the reality of the situation’.
On an older version of the game (at a time in my life when I was, let’s say, not very busy) I created a Birmingham City Classics squad. Martin Grainger was at left back. José Dominguez played just behind Christophe Dugarry. Lee Carsley protected the back four. These distractions, albeit silly ones, offer escapism from the misery of following Blues. In fact the worse we do the more I play so I wonder if that means I can blame the Blues for my missed deadlines? That might be pushing it.
However, it would be wrong of me to talk about the world of gaming and Birmingham City without discussing some irritations. The developers of these games do their research a little too well in the case of Blues. They look at statistics and so on to create each team and each player as accurately as possible. That means the Birmingham team you find in the game at first is truly dreadful. They also don’t tend to bother making the players look like themselves because why would you waste the manpower required on an unfashionable team like Brum? Let’s just say our squad always comes out looking a little generic. I remember an interview with Clinton Morrison in which he complained about his avatar on Fifa. It must be gutting to realise you’re not a big enough player to warrant facial re-creation on a football game.
I like playing online too and insist on playing as Blues (to play as anyone else would be such an act of perfidy I couldn’t look myself in the mirror) which means, basically, I lose a lot. Everyone else on the planet appears to always play as Barcelona or Real Madrid making the contest rather moot. If I freakishly manage even a goal against these faceless opponents I feel I’ve really achieved something; which I know for a fact my Father would disagree with!
Have you folks designed a killer Birmingham City team on Pro Evo or Fifa? Do you have more luck than I do out there online? Don’t hesitate to let me or BCFC Followers know about your video game blues via the comments on this article or via Twitter and Facebook. I’m off to load up the 2025-2026 season of my Master League and see if Diego has agreed terms yet.