“The feeling of togetherness is rife around the club at the moment and I can’t be the only one that almost feels as though we’re all in this as equals. It’s in the air, it’s all around us. The atmosphere is tangible. You can feel it, taste it, smell it. This is what real team spirit feels like”
Saturday was a fantastic day at the races for Blues fans. From 1 – 0 down and one of our poorest performances this season, to an epic comeback (this may be common practice for many teams – but it’s uncharted territory for us) and the eventual blow out of Bannan and his Owls.
There’s one particular moment in that game that I’d like to focus on though. Not Connor ‘dreamboat’ Mahoney’s equaliser, nor Juke’s 8th goal of the season. Not even Adam’s continued run of proving me wrong or Camp’s continued run of proving everyone else wrong.
No, I want to focus on something that on the face of it seems wholly insignificant but in reality; it’s everything. The event in question was quite simply a clearance by Jutkiewicz. That’s it.
Impressed? OK, maybe it needs a little bit of context…
We’re in the 89th minute. Well, approximately the 89th. I’m unsure of the exact time to be honest but it was late enough in the game that my mind had already turned to thoughts of curling up next to the car radiator or maybe setting fire to me feet in order to feel my toes once again.
Anyway, it’s the 89th minute and we’re 3 – 1 up. Wednesday have thrown pretty much everything they had left at us by this point and the game was as good as dead. Lukey Jukey has already fired us into the lead before Che killed the game off with the third. The Owls begin a lacklustre attack and work the ball out to the wings before attempting to put in a cross to their 9ft tall target monster (possibly an exaggeration, but Nuhiu does look more like a boxer than a footballer)
After running himself ragged since kick off, who appears to head the ball clear? None other than Lukas Jutkiewicz – the guy who’s least expected to be blocking a cross in his own penalty area. And who’s next to him? Well, pretty much everyone! Even if Wednesday manage to score in the dying moments, they’re unlikely to bag a second before the ref calls time – but the lads still defended like their lives depended on it, determined not to let the Owls blot their record once more.
Over the past few years, we’ve become used to watching the Blues roll over and accept their fate after conceding a goal or two, but not this lot. Monk’s men played every second of that match and remained switched on for its entirety. That’s what you call PASHUN!
We can all point to social media accounts and well-worded post match interviews as examples of the team’s solidarity and passion but the reality is that footballers often have some degree of media training and their social media posts could be written by anyone with the password.
However the energy on the pitch, the fist pumps after each win, the genuine love the guys show for each other when they’re not being aware they’re being filmed – that’s hard to fake.
A further example of the positive vibes emanating from the Blues camp is the fan interaction. Aside from scheduled PR events, both players and staff have reached out to fans unprompted and are happy to share their time.
Recently Blues fan, Kurt Tyler, was in the club shop picking himself up a replica shirt when he met Gary Gardner.
Kurt: “I was in the shop and spotted Gary buying kits for his kids. I asked if he would sign my new shirt as I was getting his name and number printed on it and he agreed. He then said to put my top in with his order – it was his treat”
Lil-Gards then paid for Kurt’s purchases and posed for photos:
Kurt: “This current squad is amazing, I genuinely think we could go all the way, and I love how the players and management now interact with the fans, hope Gary signs on permanently!”
Players have also gone out of their way to share condolences with fans that have lost loved ones and a couple of weeks ago Jukey reached out with a personal video message to Blues fan Beth Capewell, after he found out she was going through quite a rough time.
Beth: “It has given me the biggest boost ever. It’s something I never knew I even needed until I received it. I cried tears of happiness for the first time in a long time”
Speaking from my own experience, I received a personal message of congratulation from Pep Clotet after the birth of my daughter earlier this year. It’s been many years since the bond between club and fans has seemed so close.
Although we’re lacking in squad depth, it feels like Blues currently have the biggest team in the world. There’s 11 blokes on the pitch and a few on the bench – but that’s not the whole team.
There’s also the managerial tripod of Monk, Jimmy and Pep – but that’s not the whole team.
There’s also the coaching staff like Sean Rush, Richard Beale and Paul Robinson that are getting the credit they deserve – but that’s not the whole team.
There’s Dale Moon, Paul Devlin, Geoff Horsfield, Tom Ross, Roy Smiljanic, Davo, Brian Dick, Tilton Talk Show, BHST, 888 Sport, the numerous blogs & fan run channels, the office staff we may not know the names off, the concourse staff, club shop employees, stewards, cleaners and absolutely everyone linked with the Blues in any small way – but even THAT’S not the whole team.
Because there’s also us. The fans. And we’re invested in every aspect of Birmingham City Football Club and we are all part of the BCFC family. Us fans have always been there, but I don’t think we’ve been made to feel as valued as this for quite some time.
The feeling of togetherness is rife around the club at the moment and I can’t be the only one that almost feels as though we’re all in this as equals. It’s in the air, it’s all around us. The atmosphere is tangible. You can feel it, taste it, smell it. This is what real team spirit feels like and long may it continue!
By Mark Watson