Saturday, 22 September 2012

Barnsley




Well we came back unfortunately.

Selling Jordan Mutch for magic beans sent us livid, and we'd vowed not to renew our season tickets....because...well...what's the point? Eh? But...we came back.

As that countdown clock was a-tickin, we panicked and sent off the forms for renewal. I mean the club's dying and the football is abhorrent but they're nice seats. They are. Nice views. Nice they are. Far enough to fix Block XI a steely glare without violent repercussions, yet close enough to enjoy the ripples of atmosphere.

Put up with the shit now and when the billionaire buys us out we'll have prime time seats.

This season will be testing though. Behind us are about seven or eight kids, three in audible range. Dreaded teens. They play fight; they talk incessantly, rabbiting on but in shrill tones; they scream down our ears; they lash out and pretend it's an accident; they never shut up.

One looks like a plump Eskimo. As if Channel Four had thought up a documentary where they grab an Inuit, take him to an O'Neills surf shop, throw a hoody over him and then dump him in Small Heath. The other, a bit rodenty. The third some generic Hogwarts extra. Unconventional Blues fans.

I'm coming across harsh, I know, but they really are insufferable. If there's one thing you remember from this blog, make it that.

There's only so long you can have Jack Whitehall 'gags' screamed, honestly screamed, down your ears and get sharply knee'd in your spinal cord when you're watching your team lose 5-0 at home to Barnsley before the veins in your eyeballs start to crack and you stare at the sky crazed and inert with madness.

At half time a plump contestant in joggers chipped the ball into the net from the 6 yard box and nabbed himself free tickets to the next Blues home game. 'Do you want to gamble?'

'No, i'll take the tickets.'

I couldn't help but stare across the cold, blue, sea of empty seats at this delighted man and wonder why? Why would you want the tickets? We have to come down here because we've got season tickets, because we're reserving seats for when the billionaire comes in. You, you've got free choice. Go home to the warmth. Get out of here.

When Barnsley scored the third goal the Eskimo and Jedward stormed off. Finally, now I could watch the sight of Barnsley ripping us apart in peace and quiet.

Barnsley were the best footballing side we saw down St Andrews last season. They were bloody marvelous today too. Pass and move. Pass and move. Keep ball. Overseen by a manager that looks like Phoenix Night's 'Young Kenny'. It's an impressive duo, and they were well worth their lead.

They were irrepressible.

Looked like they'd score whenever they fancied it. That's the sign. That's the sign for change.  

The time has now come for Carson Yeung to sell the club and let us start afresh.

Three managers, 40 odd players, all in the space of two seasons. It can't go on. We're applying plasters to axe wounds. Hoovering up anybody's shit [Lita, Elliot, Ambrose, Mullins] because it's free. We can't function that way.

And what's Yeung getting from holding on? 

The value of the club drops every day. The club is decaying. And yet it seems the board are refusing to relinquish it. But if you can't stop the decay, you won't invest in players, why refuse to sell? You're not going to get anywhere near the ludicrous price you paid. Time to compromise.

Ultimately though the fans might have to apply pressure to force a change of ownership.

My idea?

Relocate the kids behind us to Carson Yeung's box. If their Jack Whitehall gags don't finish him off - the Russell Howard ones will.

Ta ra. 





Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Problem with this Norwich Malarky



Hughton hasn't gone anywhere yet.  It's best to delay the mass outpouring of anger and bewilderment until you see the gruesome news sliding across the Sky Sports News ticker.

But tonight there is a frenzy of online hysteria relating to speculation that our Chris might have abandoned ship - and it's mainly come about due to the riddle-like tweets of local journalists - who usually get these things right.

The other caveat is that by screaming obscenities and turning on Hughton you might, indirectly, force him into exiting the club. Like when those crazed husbands push their lovers into affairs because of 'trust issues'. Don't whip up a hateful campaign before the guy's even come to a decision.

But let's ignore all of the above and work on the basis Hughton is going to go to Norwich...

Why? Why would you go to Norwich?

Norwich are a small town club in the middle of nowhere, owned by a relatively poor TV chef. There is a definite ceiling to their ambitions. What could they realistically achieve? Mid-table in the Premiership? A lengthy league cup run? 

That's about it.

Compare and contrast with Birmingham. A team that plays in the nation's 2nd biggest city. A city with 2 million people in and around it, a huge customer market; fantastic infrastructure; limitless facilities and business opportunities; unrivalled transport links and on the verge of high speed rail to London boosting the local economy  - Norwich doesn't even have a motorway.

As a result of this beneficial location, Birmingham will always be attractive for serious investors around the globe. Like pre-Sheikh Manchester City, Blues are one billionaire owner away from posing some serious questions in football.

Norwich as a base just doesn't have that pull...

It's no insult, it's just true. Big city clubs are more attractive for wealthy owners.

Ok then, maybe Hughton would forgo potential because Norwich are in a better position at the moment.

Are they?

They're a newly promoted club who survived in their first season but their best player has just handed in a transfer request; they're about to embark on the dreaded 'second season' and they lack the financial clout to make certain another survival. They'll be amongst the bookies' favourites for relegation next year.

Let's be frank. They aren't Manchester United. It's not an obvious career progression.

And Blues? Though we momentarily can't buy players, there's a strong argument that we could get promoted with the squad we currently have anyway [given we came so close last season despite playing 5 times a week].

Blues could quite feasibly leapfrog Norwich in 12 months.

Maybe then Norwich are offering Hughton more money.

If that's the case then Hughton will have gone down in most people's eyes.  Fans expect Hughton to be loyal because he comes across as a moral man with principles. He used to write for the Socialist Worker apparently, and has time and time again talked about Birmingham being a working class club with proper supporters.

He's hardly a Simon Jordan-esque callous yuppie, moving from club to club cackling and rubbing money on his chest. 
He comes across as a man with integrity. 

Surely repaying the fans' love and adulation from last season; showing some loyalty; overseeing your own tightly-knit side fighting to promotion is a greater source of pride for Hughton than taking the fast buck with the East Anglians and watching them lose every week before limping to relegation?

Go and ask Roger Johnson or Scott Dann if a short-sighted, quick-fire move to the Premiership is worth shitting on your legacy. 

The grass isn't always greener on the other side Chris. You'd do well to remember that.




Sunday, 3 June 2012

Blackpool brave late Brum Blitz




BLACKPOOL made hard work of finishing their play off tie with Birmingham in a tempestuous and hostile night in the second city. Despite leading 3-0 on aggregate, the donkeys had to endure a hoof-biting final few minutes as Birmingham fought back twice to reduce Blackpool's lead to just one Colin Doyle error.

The Oranges took an unlikely lead in the first half as much-lauded Scot 'Chris Burke' switched off on the back post, leaving the much-lauded Scot 'Dobbie' with the time and space to jab the ball past the chuckling Doyle. 

The hordes of Donkeys fans in the John Merrick stand were incredulous, delaying their celebrations until witnessing Don Goodman in the skysports' commentary box banging the glass and dancing with impish glee. Blackpool were definitely 1-0 up. And now the Donkeys fans could commence their revelry.

Unfortunately the staff at 'A Voice in the Wind' left the ground at this point, so...but apparently the Oranges doubled their advantage and trebled their aggregate score with a quick-fire second just after half time.

Now the silent Houghton got his fingers out of his arse and got Birmingham playing. Birmingham were reported to have struck back twice, making the overall score 2-3 to the Donkeys.

Too little, too late.

Blackpool will go to Wembley and face West Ham United in the final of the playoffs to compete for a place in the Barclay Card Premiership.

Birmingham will ponder what might have been.  They'd been undone by goalkeeping howlers and inferiority in the middle of midfield. Yet their fat fans despise Myhill and Fahey - the antidote to these two troublesome areas.

Birmingham fans must get over their hate of Myhill and Fahey if they are to come back next season stronger.

Blackpool meanwhile march onwards to London. 

The play off tie had been billed as the mavericks of Blackpool versus the stoics of Birmingham and as the mavericks walked off into the sunset victorious, negative Houghton must have realised his folly in employing spoiler tactics at Bloomfield road.


For if you park the bus too often, you end up forgetting that buses.....are supposed to.......travel.


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Reading





A bloke on the Internet called 'Thongs' posted a link to the Reading fans' forum.

It was named after a biscuit. Eating biscuits. Biscuits. Some biscuit pun. Something about hob-knobs, it's funny you see, because it's 'wacky'. Biscuits, get it?

I noticed that the name fitted Reading well. When I think of somebody making puns about eating hob-knobs I think of a cringey, lamentable arsehole. And if that cringey, lamentable arsehole was personified as a club, it'd be Reading.

On the hob-knob forum one guy with a peach as an avatar mused:

'Birmingham was a dump'


Harsh.

Why couldn't the ground be isolated off a motorway and annexed to a Pizza Hut and a Mothercare on a tacky shopping complex?

That's what the Reading people like you see. The family club. Football, pizza and wet-wipes, all within reach of a solitary car park. 


Of course, Small Heath isn't the greatest of places [I'm allowed to say that] but Reading? Come on. A tired, dated, commuter town where lowly office staff who can't afford to live in London dwell. A peeling, dilapidated vacuum of culture.

A town which produced Ricky Gervais. A tubby southerner who spends all day tweeting pictures of his cat and ramming home his militant atheism into people's bored faces.

If you drive in the triangle in between Bristol, Birmingham and London you'll see these places like Reading.

Creepy towns with wooden Safeway supermarkets from the 1970s; asbestos-ridden blocks of shops; a wetherspoons full of toothless locals, a café nero and a church.

'What more do you need!' I hear you cry.


At the game, at one particular moment, I stood up. Turning my head to the John Merrick stand, I viewed them in their end...

Plump women with frizzy uncombed hair smiling vacuously in spectacles as they banged clapperboards. Idiots in jester hats clapping their hands with mundane glee. Kate and Wills masks. 

A tapestry of 'Fruits of the Loom' jumpers dancing around, hoping that waving inflatables conjured up the false illusion of good support.

I shook my head in disappointment.

4,500 Reading fans - you'd have been lucky to receive 450 four months ago.


The Reading fans on the biscuit forum were falling over one another to congratulate such 'magnificent support'.

 Was it? Really?


After mewing out couple of muted post-match 'Championees' chants they slunk off out the ground.

Another 'nice', 'family' club of no importance in the Premiership then.

Let's see if we can't join them. A film or play with too many 'nice' characters is rather....dull.

There should be room for the bad guys.

There's no goal music at St Andrews. You can't buy ciabatta in the kiosks. We don't sing 'we follow, we follow'. We are overly hostile and partisan. We're not a family club. The ground and local area can be intimidating for away fans.

But you know what? 

I wouldn't swap that for all the hob-knobs in Berkshire.

Ta ra.




Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Ipswich Reflections




I'm in an unnamed burger bar at a service station near Peterborough, and I'm shaking with anger. 

I mean

You go on a Blues forum post-match and you see the same thing on a weekly basis....Laughing legions of bleary eyed well-wishers chitter-chatting about nice days out they've had this season - totally plastering over the latest result with happy clappy nostalgia.

I've just driven on nothing but A road from Norfolk and I aint laughing, that's for sure.


'Don't matter that we d'aint win tonight, it's been a great season, Chelsea, Europe, great days, marvellous, KRO!' 

Errrr, sorry!

An FA cup exit and a piss up in the Benelux countries suddenly eradicates the need to get promoted?

No No No.

For me? The season has been a disaster, for sure. 

As we watch Reading get promoted, we scratch our heads wondering why a team that is so vastly inferior has so markedly outperformed us.

The Birmingham team is packed full of internationals and players with premiership experience - most good enough to still play at the top level.

Yet many Blues fans thought we'd finish mid table and are now trying to twist our top four status into being a 'remarkable achievement' - we must dismiss these people as being clinically insane. 

A team with the players Blues have at their disposal must always compete for promotion, it is a fundamental bare minimum. Player for player we have no equal. Carlton Cole and Tomkins aside, even West Ham fall short in a quality comparison.

Today we drew again, this time at Ipswich after taking the lead. No team in the league has surrendered so many points from winning positions as Blues have. We took the lead at West Ham, and we dropped points. We took the lead at Leicester, and we dropped points. It's a familiar tale.

Let's be frank here...

Does Houghton know what he's doing?...



That's ultimately for you to decide.


At home to Bristol City the game was poised at 2-2, and the spaced-out Zidic walked around in a haze. The fans were mouthing:

 'Huselklepp' 'Huselklepp'


...but Houghton stood in the breeze and stared at the clouds in blissful ignorance.

Tonight, wave after wave of Ipswich bombardment. The away fans lament:

 'Huselklepp' 'Huselklepp

...yet Zidic gets 85 minutes, and when he does go off it's for Rooney!

Crumbs!

He's even started taking Townsend off and bringing Redmond on. 

What's that all about? 

The equivalent of shooing the Stone Roses off the stage in order to make room for the Stoned Daises - Bolton's tacky tribute act.

I'm not one for stats. People who live and die by stats are the 'geeks'. Strange people who said Gareth Bale was rubbish because Spurs didn't win when he played, or that Barry Ferguson was the best midfielder in the world because all 983 of his one yard sidewards passes were 'completed'.

But if we view the stats, as we should, we see that Blues haven't beaten a single team in the top ten this season away from home.

Horrifying.

Houghton...MUST...start reacting to games quicker, or these 1-0 away leads will continue to turn into draws and defeats. In the play offs a couple of goals conceded can be the difference between going up and staying down.

Our promotion hinges on that away leg. But at this level we tend to lose narrowly to decent sides in their back yard.

That, is why, I want us to play the away leg second.

When I met José Mourinho at a Motd NEC function in 2005 he took me to one side and told me that in two-legged cup games you must 'always go out to attack in the first leg, and then stifle the second game.'

So let's play the opposition at St Andrews first, and build up a score, 2-0 or 3-0. Then we can afford to go away, play out our obligatory narrow away loss and still go through to Wembley.

I'll be able to finally forgive Houghton for a catastrophic stuttering league season. And the bleary-eyed well-wishers can have another day out on the piss.


Everyone wins. Huselklepp might even get a game.

Now I am talking crazy!

Ta ra





Sunday, 8 April 2012

Crystal Palace - The March of the Inbetweeners







As we sauntered up the Cattell road towards St Andrews we saw them coming towards us.

Three pre-pubescent youths trumpeting down the hill. Thin, gangly, ill-complexions; a wayward nose here, a large forehead there. They were not 18 years old and were decked out as if kicked backwards through a Topman sale.

Yet here they were....marching down the Cattell road singing:


 'She said no Marlon, she said no'.



True, they were droning it out the sides of their mouths - almost humming it. 

And true, they weren't stopping to check the reaction.

But what front!

I fixed them with a cold steely stare. 

Suddenly, Rowett senior burst across me, I held him back as he snarled 'PRATS!'. 

They carried on walking, never stopping, they soon melted into the crowd.

Rowett senior had a mad glare in his eye - like the Ancient Mariner but with a beer belly and no beard.

This had ruined his day. He shook his head in dejection and whispered:

 'How did it come to this? We've gone soft'


The middle class readers of you will roll your eyes and see it as petty tribalism. But there's something to be said for this crazed bloke's fury. I'm a fan of hostility at football as long as it doesn't spill into hooliganism, and the sight of seeing smug Croydonians marching around our end chanting anti-Blues songs without apprehension, well, it were particularly sickening.


Rowett senior stopped suddenly at the side of the road, he turned and pointed at the back of the TK Max with a remorseful and a wistful demeanour...

'There was a pub there my son, it had a horses trough outside the front of it....and away fans would be dunked into it.'

I forced a smile of pity and patted the old man's shoulder in consolation. It was a small gesture, one to help soothe his woe.

He looked up to the sky and sighed.

Birmingham had once been tartarus....now the Inbetweeners had unchecked reign here.

We settled into our seats and allowed the first half to beam into our faces.


It was beauty. Pure art.

One touch; pass move; stretch the game use the wingers; one two; keep ball; relentless attacks; shooting at will. Like Barcelona.

Blues went 3-0 up after 35 ish minutes with the first half performance of the season. In the stand I cried. 

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I saw the team, this team that should have won this league. No team is better player for player. Alas, the thin squad and the extra games have done for us.

Well maybe.

If we beat West Ham on Monday we go 3pts behind them and the top two opens up.

Could we?

Blues are now back to being the most inform team around with three consecutive 3-1 wins [two coming away from home].

As we left the ground we walked past the away end to see police vans dividing the home fans from the away. The Inbetweeners were cowering behind the fence.

I turned to Rowett senior and he gave a Buddhist nod of satiety, no words were exchanged, none were needed.

The Blues had won, and Rowett senior had calmed. 

Equilibrium had been achieved.








Saturday, 24 March 2012

Aluminium Vultures



In the age of Iron, the Lydians were the power of the region. Their lands stretched from the azure blue coast of the Med to the sandy deserts of the east. Their king, Croesus, was the wealthiest man in the ancient world - you've heard the term 'as rich as Croesus' before. 

Yet one thing troubled him...

Neighbours. 

For out there, past the sandy deserts of the east were backwards types, the Persians, and they were building something. Nowhere near as rich as the Lydians, nor as advanced, but they were slowly rising in importance.

Croesus consulted the oracle, asking whether he should smash the Persians now before they grew to become a threat. The oracle emerged from the misty cave, turned its cloaked head and whispered:

 'If you go to war, a great Empire will be defeated.

Croesus nodded and prepared for war.

He defeated the Persians with ease. They fled into the hills. Content, Croesus paid off his mercenary army with his vast wealth, told them to go home, and he made for Lydia triumphant.

The Persians watched...they saw that he disbanded his army and marched home. They followed him and his small remaining force. They overwhelmed the Lydians, they routed them and captured Croesus. A great empire had been defeated. Not the Persian empire as Croesus thought....but his own.

The events were held up by Ancient Greek scholars as being an example of hubris and complacency. For a poorer, weaker force had destroyed an empire all because the King had counted his chickens before they'd hatched and sent his army away. The Persians sacked Lydia, plundered it of its wealth and profited from its technological advances.

And essentially, the Persians are the f**king Baggies aren't they?

Coming out of nowhere, from obscurity, but nicking stuff that doesn't belong to them.

I find them trying. How long have they been an irrelevance? 20 years? 25 years? 30 years?

And yet here they are, taking advantage of Blues' self-destruction, exploiting our misfortune to strengthen themselves above their fixed station.

The Baggies have never had good goalkeepers. Now they have our Foster keeping clean sheets.

The Baggies have never had competent defenders, yet here they are, with Ridgewell, radiating the semblance of defensive stability.

Their manager, a scrotal sack in a suit that's found a toupé stares at us constantly. 

He is at our training ground, in a car, lecherously peering out the window and licking his crinkly lips, a frog-faced undesirable.

It's not really fair that a mediocre club like West Brom find a club on their doorstep with a treasure chest of tested premiership talent at knock down prices. We never had such luck. We rose to prominence through hard work, good scouting, sound investment and generally, being a better club.

Some Blues fans used to like the Albion, but only in the way that everybody likes Walsall. 

The Baggies were in perpetual threat of relegation into Division Two [hence the song 'youre going down with the Baggies'], and were pitied for being lead by mouth-breathers like Brian Little, Alan Buckey and Gary Megson.

They were poor Albion. Our plucky, strange, slightly inbred cousins.

Me? I've never really liked or hated them. They're just there, like the pigeons in the city centre, sometimes they'll get in the way and shit on your shoe but they're basically harmless.

I just saw them as being bland. 

They never challenged for anything, their ground is neither here nor there, the crowds were low, even their dark blue dreary stripes lacked the vibrancy of the royal blue.

But now they've found themselves in this fortunate situation and they do not conduct themselves with dignity. They treat their betters like we're a flea market.

They unsettle our players, treat our club with disdain, they make derisory bids. Wouldn't surprise me if they offer £1.5m for Curtis Davies should we not get promoted. They pick at our diamond corpse like aluminium vultures.

But, take heed yam yams, you should note that the cream always rises to the top. 

For Bolton will never stay above Man City too long; Bradford are always destined to lurk below Leeds; Boro shan't outshine Newcastle and the law follows that Black Country teams must also fall below their big city rivals.

It's football hierachy.

So enjoy god's graces while it lasts Albion, because fortune is a fickle wench. Last week you were a retirement home for Purse and Horsfield, today you take our stars, but tomorrow is a new day.






Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Insidious Workings




I'm seething.

Well, not seething in the way you might imagine - probably an effete Silhillian banging his feet on the floor, grinding his teeth and smashing treasured family heirlooms against the wall. Although, it's not far off that.

I'm flustered and...just..just going to come out with it, I've kept it in for too long and it needs to be said...ready?








We're being cheated





Come on, you know it







You've pondered it too.





It's happening on a weekly basis.

To the point where it's so obvious that's it's laughable.



Is it a conspiracy?



Hear me out...

First they had Blues play every league fixture away from home following a Europa game. Every single one.

Go and have a look at the fixture list if you don't believe me. It's ludicrous.

Madeira, North Africa on a Thursday night? We'll give them....Middlesborough away a couple of days later. Yes, that should ruin them.

The ex-Soviet bloc, Maribor? Forest away a couple of days later will do nicely.

Bruges, Bristol away. Braga, Cardiff away.



So we'd travel to these European destinations, fly for over four hours, play a game, fly four hours back, then land and get on a coach for a five hour trip to somewhere like Middlesborough.

Is that rational?

You tell me.

I'm surprised the players didn't have blood clots. They must have looked like the cast of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with the long haul stockings on show.

Who's idea was that? And why? 

What's the thought process behind it? 

Why every game away? Why not just give Blues one home league fixture after a taxing European trip? Give us half a chance?

Unless of course......the people who compiled the fixtures knew what they were doing?

Crazy? Maybe...

Southampton have had nine penalties that I've managed to find this season, they might have had more, but they've definitely had at least nine.  That's 9 in 38 games, otherwise known as 'about 25% of their matches'.

Blues on the other hand have had 3.


Now...

You're not telling me that Southampton attack three times as much as Blues.


non 



Every week we see Southampton getting soft penalties when we watch their highlights on the Maniche show. At Millwall they got a penalty for their own player handling the ball. The studio fell about giggling. I'm not sure it's funny? I'm certainly not laughing.

Blues are scythed down in the box on a weekly basis and get zilcho. At Coventry last week, Andros Townsend beat his man, ran towards goal and was taken clean out in the first half, every post-match medium confirms it was a penalty, did we get it, did we hell.

And there's been so many incidents like the above for Blues, it's weird, utterly weird. King must be dragged and pushed and thrown in every match, but they won't give him a decision because they don't like him for his off the field antics from the past.

Today at Pompey Zigic is fouled a good four yards in the box, the ref awards the foul and gives a freekick on the edge of the area almost causing a riot.

Mutch has been sent off for nudging a Coventry lad in the back, leading Claridge to shake his vulture neck in disbelief. 

Murphy gets sent off today for a shoulder barge, sending all of Fratton Park into hysterics.

Yet West Ham play Millwall, roundhouse kick the Wall goalkeeper knocking him unconscious, they slot home into an empty net, the ref points for a goal, Big Sam raises his arms triumphantly.

Imagine Blues getting a decision like that.



'It evens itself out' they mew.

I'm not sure it does.

At Pompey today Blues were comfortable, so comfortable. 

Skates get awarded a phantom free-kick and score with the subsequent deflected strike. Then, Murphy gets sent off for a nudge. They fling a cross into the box and punch the ball into the net with their hands, every Blues player turns to the ref expecting a free kick, the ref smirks and awards a goal.

Darren Carter - BRMB's answer to Jamie Redknapp - usually a cool and collected boy/man has to be restrained and held back in the press area by security. His face is red and he's lost his famed restraint.

The fact is: Blues fans and journalists are getting pissed off with this.

But will Hughton do a Fergie and question the competency of the officials making these season-wrecking howlers? Maybe imply they're not physically fit? Will he do an Owen Coyle and piece together a pathetic DVD of perceived ref mistakes?

No, you know he won't. 

Because he's got too much class. But I'm not sure class is what's needed. When you're fighting in mud with pigs and rats, it's maybe time to get dirty and hurl a brick, because Blues are paying dearly for their honesty.

When Blues were due to play Southampton at home, we were on a winning streak, they on a losing streak. A blizzard littered down rendering the pitch unplayable and vision limited. The powers that be demanded the game go ahead, effectively ending any chance of Birmingham clawing back Southampton in the league. The Saints needed not to lose, and in conditions where scoring became an impossibility, they licked their lips with glee. Why did the league let that game go ahead?

I've never known a side try to compete in such stifling conditions before. They're consistently playing against all the elements and all the officials.

Why though? Why are we handed impractical fixture lists, poor officials and a third of the penalties that the teams around us enjoy?

I believe that, as it's London 2012, the FA are desperate for teams in and around the area to return to the top flight.

'Tis embarrassing for the Olympic Stadium to host second tier football after the 2012 games. And how nice if Southampton and Reading could join West Ham [the three teams at the top of the 'penalties awarded' for this season column by the way] in the prem. A global city hosting a global games with tens of premiership venues on its door-step. Investors eyeing up South East clubs, their money for the regeneration project.

The top flight with West Ham and some commuter belt town sides - Bobby Moore's wet dream.

People think this doesn't go on in the English game, but after the spot-fixing scandals in cricket; the blood tablet farce in rugby; the corruption surrounding FIFA; and the fact that match fixing and ref-bribing in football has been outed in leagues as close as Italy - I wouldn't be surprised.

Forget the fact we've sold every squad player and are using the smallest pool of players - if we somehow beat Soho and get promotion it'll be the greatest triumph in the club's history, even surpassing that of the league cup win.


Make no mistake, it's now us v them. But for all the skullduggery going on, this hated platoon can make one last stand and they won't like that much.

Ta ra! 



Monday, 12 March 2012

Sent to Coventry




The day started off high octane. At the train station I had ten minutes to buy a ticket to Birmingham from Solihull but two doddery, confused Norwegian women were registering some problem in broken English at the ticket booth...

'We...getting...from...Gatwick...to Reading [pronounced 'reeding'] and to Birmingham, but...give..us..wrong....tickets'


Bleedin' nora!


7 mins...


'And...we....needing...replacement...tickets'


4 mins!!...



The lethargic train office man yawned....he stared through these plump, Nordic, human space-hoppers decked out with confused faces and multi-coloured patchwork coats and told them to go to Birmingham's New Street station as 'the customer information there would be better help'.

Got my ticket with a minute to spare.

Six thousand Blues fans were to go to the Ricoh this day, most travelling from Birmingham to Coventry via train. My scouts informed me that the Ricoh is just as close to Nuneaton station as it is to Coventry. 

We decided to go to Nuneaton and then get a taxi from there to the ground, but, alas, a miscommunication between the entourage meant we needed to go to Coventry. We were sent there.

Coventry...

Coventry...

I'd never been before, despite living not 5 miles from the place. I'd been forewarned though.

The Luftwaffe blew it to dust in the war, it meant that almost every building was destroyed, so in the following two decades a mass building project took place. Unfortunately for Coventry, this coincided with the rise of brutalist architecture. 60s buildings. Christ. Everything's grey, everything's concrete, everything's cuboid and gloomy and melancholy and...

Like somebody found a huge nugget of asbestos in a field and decided to try and carve a city out of it.

Like in the film 'Logan's Run' where Logan and his lady friend run into a monorail and flee to the sanctuary. Then the camera man pans out and takes an aerial shot of a toy town that looks like a shite Epcot in order to give the impression of a bird's eye view.

Coventry, the futuristic city imagined in the 60s when nothing was futuristic. I'm sure in those days the place looked hip, I'm sure it looked like the moon, but now it looks like the Soviet Union.

I reckon when they drew up the plans they were hoping for this...




But in the end they got this...








At 12pm, with half an hour to spare we strolled out the pub into the Coventry wilderness looking for a taxi. 

Nothing.

We asked locals for taxi ranks, each one gave us conflicting information. 

We ran through Coventry city centre scrambling for a ride looking like an Apprentice team who have 5 minutes to find the last ridiculous object on Alan Sugar's list, a monkey's arse, or an Ant and Dec calendar or a chocolate car bumper sticker or something. 

Coventry city centre, aka the Swan Market - all it's missing is a 'Crash, Bang, Wallop' shop.

Found a taxi rank outside an Iceland store from the 70s, but no taxis. We rang the number on the sign, a muted Cov type awoke to answer, sounding like he was in the bath: 'We'll send some out to yer' he splashed.

Nothing came.

With three minutes to go until kick off a taxi came flinging down the adjacent road, we ran towards it flapping like chicken prats. It screeched to a halt.

'To the Ricoh'

We hurtled towards the stadium, I was hungover so poked my head out the window clamouring for fresh air but I couldn't find any. Everything smelt like poison.

We missed the first ten minutes of kick off when we arrived in the ground.

No big deal though, the game and the fans were subdued as is the tendency for these morning kick offs, forced upon us thanks to hooliganism [I'm blaming Block 11, as I must for everything].

After the game we strolled across the car park and nimbly meandered in between the dancing, bobbing hooligans on either side, provoking one another, into Pizza Hut we went.

Margarita medium sized for a fiver, and a free salad bar. 

I bit into a bread roll, softened with thousand island sauce as the flat-cap teenagers were chased from beyond the window by the police. 

'Come on then pigs!' 

Squeaked a pre-pubescent in chinos.

We left Pizza Hut and made for the taxi rank next to Tesco, next to the bus station.

Here were local Cov types who had commandeered a shopping trolly and were taking it in turns to climb inside it while the other pushed the thing into a bus shelter.

'Huh huh huh Ba-reh, give me a gow mate laike'

Crash!

Into the perspex flew a toothless local.

Coventry for you.

We taxi'd back to the station, went back to Birmingham on a packed train, I gave up my seat for an old lady with a dog to the delight of the carriage.

It had been a good day. The pizza was reasonably priced and tasty and the salad bar was a delightful added touch, oh and a football match had taken place or something, but the less said about that, the better...








Monday, 5 March 2012

The Rams



Do we have to talk about this?  

No? Yes. Ok, but let's focus on the game as briefly as we legally can in order to continue to pass this off as a football blog. 

I mean, it weren't the worst of games was it? Blues played well for...pretty much the whole match.  

On the Maniche show - in that rented-out steam-room where the heat's been turned off and an increasingly bent, rocking, vulture-like Steve Claridge murmurs over epileptic footage of lower league football - they showed a rampant Blues display.

We had shots hit the bar, off the line, and Derby scored twice with their only two efforts, how annoying. The vulture Claridge pecked over the performance, nodding incoherently, giggling, having an internal dialogue with himself. Think that means we played well.

We need one of those Southampton phantom penalties that I hear are all the rage these days. They seem to be the difference between 3pts and 1pt, we'll have to ask the Physio if they've got any spare going.

Yeh we should have had a penalty when the tree-like Zigic was chopped down in the box and the ref, the shepherd, blew for a dive [delighting his flock]. But the reason we didn't win lies solely with the defence.

Derby were pretty poor. 

If you got a martian and landed him in the East Midlands apart from saying 'why are so many towns named after cakes?', 'what a dive this place is' and 'how do I get out?' he'd probably put Forest as the early season promotion chasers and Derby as the relegation fodder if you demanded a football response from him.

Nevertheless we let them score two goals.

Both were brought about by half the defence playing the offside trap [unbeknownst to the other half of the defence], totally leaving sheep open in the pen, or the pen open for the sheep to escape, and by escape I mean score - I'm not sure that makes sense.

It meant that Curtis Davies and Caldwell stood on the edge of the box with their arms aloft, looking smug and appealing for offside, whilst first N'Daw, and later Ramage, stood confused, scratching their heads on the penalty spot as their opponent fired home.

Ramshackle.

There's rumours Caldwell is out of action for tomorrow's game against Chelsea with bruised ribs. Probably brought about by his penchant for waving his arms around at the linesman, appealing for bonkers offside decisions and not playing to the whistle, probably dislodged a shoulder rib.

Can't be too harsh though, they've been nigh on impenetrable this season. Perhaps an off day. 

Southampton, the fixation this season for my myopic hate, were once again mind-meltingly lucky as they beat Leeds 1-0 despite having 2% possession and their goalkeeper making 22 point blank saves. It's led some people to say the top two dream is over.

10 points the difference?

We'll shit that in four games. We're more than capable of going on another winning run. Yeh we dropped points against the East Midlands types, but in both games we made enough chances to win ten games. It's not like we're clueless.

The Blues promotion bus might have veered off down a country lane and slowed down after getting stuck behind a flock of sheep that are loose for some reason, but it's not stopped to a halt just yet. Once we get past these sheep we're in Coventry, an ideal location for refuelling.