Monday, 27 February 2012
At the Yorkshires' house
A choice of fowl, cow or lamb
You care for none
Asking for an alternative
You catch their white hot eyes of outrage
In their day you went without
if you were discerning in taste.
No thought for dietary needs
Not here in industrial Leeds
When five minutes passes
And you've still not picked
You hear the Yorkshires tutting
They glance at wristwatches
A room of rolling eyes
The Yorkshires are always right
'Just choose t'beef!'
Hear them grinding their erroding teeth.
Look out for Yorkshire conversation
Racist joke, bits of egg yoke
spat in your face
that once held cheese
now orchestrate a symphony of nostalgia
'They've cancelled christmas me young pup
Hark, you co'un't make it up!'
'I were int shop other day
And near on four minute I waited int queue
This young lad, too busy chatting away
behind the till
I told him what for
We're customers, we're always right
Buck up ya git
bad service you're givin
Know that our money pays for your livin'
How did it come to this?
You're stick with the Yorkshires
airing their indignant views
Staring out the window you see a bus
Oh to be free from these morons
'and that's why there's too much muck on tv these days'
They release their cutlery and resume
their old school patter
Get out now, how it don't matter.
Daily Mail napkins
Pressed against their lips
They fix you with a piercing stare
'What d'you do fo'livin'?'
'Student' you reply
Howling with outrage they chase you out the doors
But after you've paid, and not a moment befores
The meal with the Yorkshires, near the great Moors
The meal with the Yorkshires. where horror befalls
Saturday, 25 February 2012
At St Andrews Birmingham shall ne'er be vanquished
Till Forest reaches Small Heath
At 'Voice in the Wind' two predictions were forecast at the start of the season...
- Should we keep the bulk of the squad, we'll get promoted with 100 points
- We won't lose a home game all season
Well....the first prediction died a death fairly early into the season. Every man of playing age that could utilise their neder appendages in aid of the game was packaged up and sent out to the highest bidder.
Even so, what we were left with gave me confidence we'd go unbeaten all season at Stan's.
The second prediction lasted to this day, on the 25th of February in the year of our lord 2012. Forest beat us. Fourth from bottom Forest. Worst defence in the league Forest. And I'm still not quite sure how.
Probably hubris to blame. That phenomenon when you're so arrogant and cock-sure that you take your eye off the ball and ultimately bring about your own doom.
We all had to study Shakespeare at school, and one of the things I remembered and liked about the Scottish play was the whole forest episode. Macbeth was told he'd be invincible until the forest marched on his castle. He obviously thought the idea of a bunch of trees attacking him was rhubarb, so he cockily strutted around, pissing about and being all complacent, leaving doors unlocked, Cds out of their cases, pies on window ledges.
Then in the end the trees get him. I like that, because I like trees and I dislike the Scotch.
And it was a bit similar in the first half at Blues today, we were walking around at strolling pace as if the result was pre-determined, pissing about, playing at half-arsed speed.
Second half we were utterly dominant, missing chance after chance, but when Fahey drills the bar, Curtis places wide from three yards out and Dexter Blackstock kills a lofted ball dead, swivels on the spot and pokes home like David Silva you know lady luck aint on your side. You raise your hands and say 'ok'.
If we could have seen Lady Luck today in heaven she'd have been spit roasted by Clough and Robin Hood. We can't compete with that, and we were punished for failing to win over the lecherous cow's affections. What could we offer her in the firmament? I can't even think of any dead celebrities on our side that would be willing to go in for the team and break up that Yorkshire and medieval gang bang.
Brian Clough was a bit before my time really, I was just a beaver in shorts playing pogs and watching 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes' when he was king of the castle. But from the footage I've seen and the stories I've heard of the great man I think I would have disliked him.
Seemed very Yorkshire didn't he?
Those types who tend to have been born at the age of 50, tutting at all the paperwork nurses are bogged with down these days as they're yanked out the vagina scowling in their slippers.
Indignant types who trudge through life acting like every other member of the public is akin to an unwanted visitor on Christmas day who stays in your house too long and puts their feet on your coffee table, burping 'what's for dinner?'
Imagine your face if met with such a taxing visitor. That would have been Brian Clough's perma-fixed expression 24/7 I reckon, from 1960 to 1993.
I've seen interviews where he's talking to journalists and interviewers like they're naughty school children, and the gooey-eyed football public fawned over it. Weird.
This is a man who walked onto the pitch and smacked a kid around the head when Forest fans celebrated. There's no old school charm in that, it's just called picking on a kid, or being a prat. Ol'Clough wouldn't have struck anyone bigger, they might have hit back.
And he hounded Justin Fashnu something rotten for being one of those 'poofs' that MTV have invented these days.
Not a nice character. Anyway, the game...
Yeah in the end we paid the price for our complacency in the first half and some uncharacteristically bad defending. But the loan players looked sharp and ultimately the defeat might serve as a timely reminder that nothing is given to you in football you always need to work for it.
Let's leave the forest behind and get out in the clearing.
Sunday, 19 February 2012
We drove through the early morning mist at cold dawn towards the train station surrounded by trees. Today, Solihull an empty desert of fog and affluent houses, the infinite driveways stretching onto the abandoned roads. Too early for the commuters, even too early for the birds. Silence echoed through the byways save for our car radio muttering out 'Fisherman's Blues' on TalkSport.
We entered into the vicinity of the station surrounded by the trees and pulled up alongside the entrance. I bid the driver farewell and wandered out of the car wearing my coat [laden with the day's essentials plus two unwanted jammy wagon-wheels, vile inventions, but forced upon me by an over-bearer].
As I left the car I immediately noticed before me, swamping the entrance, a motley crew. I knew they were the football hooligans from matches in the past.
They stood in immeasurable sub-groups of threes and fours stinking of beer and spirits. They filled the air with smoke, cackling and swaying back and forth. Huge Afro-Caribbean men intersecting Caucasian types, the latter with whiskey-wrinkled browned leather faces, some tattooed but most well worn to the world. They would break into song now and then about their lovers and the sins from the good book. They were the pirates of the 21st century. All eyed me with suspicion but soon deduced I was no threat and went back to their drinking and such like. I met my entourage and we progressed towards the platform.
More pirate hooligans up here so we scuffled down to the lower end hoping our efforts would secure us a seat on the train to that London where the Queen lives.
Alas, not to be. For our carriage was not full of football fans, there were some ok, but most in our compartment were middle class families. Bespectacled women in lime coloured jumpers analysing the Daily Mail as their plump,red-cheeked children played gameboys in obedient silence. We'd have to stand, and we did, by the doors.
At the next station a posh frog-man hopped onto the train ushering his family on board. They had to stand too. The frog man slowly turned to us, stared, then edged forward with his half-closed eyes and his droopy lips.
'For the rugby are we?'
'Naah. Goin' to watch Chelsea v Blues, erm...' we replied.
'And what's that in aid of?' enquired the frog-man.
'The FA cup. That's why the train is so rammed for the most part.'
'And the time you're likely to catch the train back? So I know to avoid it?' blankly requested the frog-man.
The train powered through the early morning fog all the way to that London. The entourage and I chatted about all the things a group of lads in their 20s might chat about, and the frog-man watched on with interest, occasionally interjecting with a conversational cul-de-sac, but his input was always accommodated.
We screeched into that London and the doors opened. The frog-man and his family hopped out, he said no words more to us. I suppose we were fixings of the journey to the frog-man, nothing more than traffic cones or cats eyes, an unavoidable part of travel but with grating accents.
We strayed out from Marylebone station like bewildered cavemen, knowing that we had to go somewhere but with 3 hours before we were due in Stamford Bridge, where?
In front of us were the never-ending labyrinthine roads of the London maze. Left, then right, saw a cafe. Wandered in. A young French woman behind the counter smiled at us with her greasy face, I don't say that as a racial slur against continentals I stress, she just had a few spots and her face shined quite a bit.
She offered to cook us scrambled eggs on toast, we agreed to her machinations. We duly put away the eggs, toast and tea and paid grease-face and once again wandered out into the maze.
At Edgeware road we descended into the cavern-like tube station and made our way for Fulham Broadway, it took 15 mins before we emerged to the surface once more.
It's a strange place is that London, I'd been there before and been hit with the same emotions. The cumulative effect of millions of busy streets, limited bits of grass, the sun blocked out by the innumerable buildings competing for space, the need to go underground into the darkness to get from place to place creates a sort of 'trapped' and 'enclosed' emotion in the outsider. A bit like when you're in a lift. I'm not sure why because the place is massive, but it does feel like everything's on top of you.
At Fulham Broadway we emerged amidst swarms of Cockneys. Cockneys to the left, Cockneys to the right. Chimney sweeps waving match day fanzines around, 'aaaanly a paaand' they shouted.
The Chelsea fans were weird. A strange mix. All around gangs of Russians cockily strutted up and down the streets chattering away in an incomprehensible language. You had the expected lashings of Japanese/American/Irish tourists, but the Cockneys themselves were divided. Half were as West Ham fans, orcish, ugly, proper chavy and probably racist. The other half looked very posh. Young lads and girls with the glowing gold middle class skin, the tans they get from skiing, rolling fags as they glide past you in their trench coats and bed hair. Suave shites.
We tried to enter a few local pubs but were stopped by plump Chelsea door guards in blue bobble hats asking to see our 'fakin season tickets'. They were home fans only bars. With 45 mins till kick off we opted for drinking in the ground.
Another weird thing about Chelsea apart from the people was the vibe to the place. It didn't feel like a football ground, it felt like a purpose made, slightly tacky, slightly plastic, entertainment complex - like a Star City but with less knife crime. There were some American diner called 'Frankies', a Marco Pierre White restaurant built into the side of the ground and a hotel. We were told we could drink in the hotel bar.
Wags, journalists, Chelsea fans surrounded us at the bar. Pints of Singh for a fiver. What the hell's Singh? We took our drinks and stood to one side. Two Blues fans wobbled into the bar, a couple in their 60s, both obese, both in replica shirts. They looked like the bozos the Sky cameras seem to pick out when filming the crowd and you think 'oh god, that's dropped our street cred'. Then a posh man in a suit, with an ear-piece, came over and gave us the official team sheets for the game. He looked like Jason Cundy's less successful brother. Which is a terrible slur to throw at even the worst of your enemies.
We got to our seats in the ground with 10 mins to spare. I danced with child-like glee to the Liquidator. Fifteen years ago I'd gone to my first away game with my dad and his cousin at the Hawthorns to see us beat West Brom 3-0 and the Liquidator provided the soundtrack to that day too. Fuck off West Brom, you're shit! do do do do do do do do do do. Fuck off West Brom, you're shit!
Blues kicked off. I'd predicted 4-0 to Chelsea before the game. 5 mins passed it was still 0-0, 10 mins passed still a stalemate, 15 still good, 20....we scored. What the hell? That wasn't supposed to happen. Not only were we Championship and they top 4, but this patched up Blues side was half reserve.
We all erupted in delight and danced and fell over each other. The chanting, though it was non-stop anyway, took on extra vigour. All the usual pro-Blues, pro-Hughton love songs, how shit must you be we're winning away, sacked in the morning, jose mourinho, 1-0 to the Championship, couple of anti-McLeish chants as maybe he watched on through his tv.
They sent out Drogba to warm up. 'Zambia! Zambia!' chanted the Blues fans pointing at Drogba not 6 foot away. The sadness of Ivory Coast's defeat to Zambia still in the man's mind. Then they sent super Fwank out to warm up in front of the Birmingham fans... 'Adrian Chiles shagged your bird!' Fwank in his defence laughed it off, and thrusted his midriff to and fro in a sexual manner to play with the abuse. Given that man's mooted weight, he probably resembled a lava lamp to the closer eye.
Blues as Yellows on the pitch were a class act. The defence were giants. Doyle saved a penalty. The midfield kept the ball, Mutch and Fahey every bit Iniesta and Xavi. Rooney worked upfront, but was pretty anonymous. I'm not the man's biggest fan.
The 2nd half started after a half-time break where Bryan Adams' 'Summer of 69' had been caught on loop driving all to insanity, like if hell was Reflex. And Chelsea intensified their pressure on us. But we stood strong for the most part. One momentary lapse in concentration from Ibanez allowed Sturridge in to score against his own city, traitor, and Chelsea were back on level terms.
Ultimately though, that was Chelsea's last meaningful attack, and Blues brought some reinforcements on and went for the winner. Mutch danced through the Chelsea defence and was scythed down, going close with the resulting freekick before Jake Jervis played Redmond in for a one-on-one of sorts in the last minute which he fluffed into Cech's hands.
The game ended, a replay awaits.
Left the ground and got caught up in the river of people cascading down towards the tube station. Forget that. We opted to go upstream and find a bar to wait it out. The King's Arms on the Fulham road provided a refuge, though nobody opted to buy the £1.25 Quavers.
A few more bars, some fun and extra drinks later we ended up in Piccadilly Circus where I saw a homeless man forlorn, strewn on the side of the way. The Cockneys shuffled past. I had no money to give him, but I did have those vile jammy wagon-wheels. I placed them in his hands, He thanked me and nodded.
To Marylebone station and we ran for the last train to Solihull, to God's promise land. Shattered and beleaguered, we zombies lay on the journey back. A scouser at a table nearby occasionally struck up football conversation. As a concept I dislike the scousers, but every time I've met one in real life we've got on famously. This guy was friendly enough. He was a chef apparently and had come down to London on a birthday treat to a famous Italian restaurant with his Arabic, Manc, girlfriend.
I got back to the station surrounded by the trees and bid the entourage farewell then walked home. The sky was full of stars, i picked out a few constellations thanks to Brian Cox's influence on me of late. I got home and went to bed. It had been a great day in that London, and it had triggered something within me.
When's the West Ham game?
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
In the wind of voices you can be carried away. They're invisible, baseless but for the man troubled with the heat, the breeze can be most appealing.
On twitter there's a phenomenon of people climbing over one another to 'break' a story, no matter what little evidence there is for it, no matter how wafer-thin it really is. They report it as fact. The Blues fans who are fearful of their promotion chances turning to dust as the depleted squad grows tired, they're eager to bathe in the news.
"I work for the Blues, next week we're signing Michael Owen". "I work for a national newspaper, I've been told a billionaire is buying the club." "I've read some Chinese newspaper translations, Carson's going to jail!". People with blogs, twitter, trampling on bystanders in order to shout something based on heresay.
Everybody's a news-breaking journalist. And even the news breaking journalists are flinging poo into our mushes and laughing as we scrape our eyes clean and witness the pooey truth.
The Mirror are the latest and our ol'friend James Nursey.
After writing a match report on the tedium that was Blues/Hull, they included the line:
"Lewis McGugan will be allowed to join Birmingham from Nottingham Forest on loan until the end of the season."
Note the use of 'will' as opposed to 'might'.
This obviously sent the Blues fans into rapture, thinking that the team was back on track and had finally secured much needed quality reinforcements. Imagine Blues fans as those African children on charity adverts who secure water and start dancing around a well. That was glee you could discern.
Turns out this morning that the line is err....untrue, and Nursey was just probably joking or something. Nursey hands you a Christmas present, you unwrap it, it's a suitcase. Full of money? You open it and its full of wood shavings. He gives you a wet willy and runs off giggling.
Colin Tattum's the polar opposite. Spending his days sitting at his desk in Blues Towers, with his servant girls oiling and massaging his bald head. As the emissary to the Blues gods, he farts in knowing acceptance every time they bequeath a message onto him as the official source.
He is the anti-Nursey. Going around systematically quashing the bullshit with harsh dismissals.
I'm not sure who saddens me more. Nursey and his ilk, giving false hope to the masses. Or Tattum, killing dreams, bursting into school assemblies and callously telling the kids there's no God and no afterlife, then drinking their tears.
I think I'd like to live in Nursey's fantasy world. Though that too will only ever end in sadness as the fantasy never materialises.
I'm not believing anything I hear any more. It woes me too much.
Until these players are in Mr Egg in full replica kit having a breakfast. I'll not believe they're Blues players.
Time to wisen up.
* Please note this blog is a satire, should be viewed that way, and grossly exaggerates my own personal beliefs for comedic effect. I don't doubt that Nursey, Tattum and all top journalists only release information they believe to be true and are adequately sourced *
Monday, 13 February 2012
|[Above: Capital Gold listeners shouting down anybody with constructive criticism]|
A lot of talk at the moment regarding McLeish. From his first season at Blues I wanted him out of my sight.
A succession of managerial monstrosities had me yanking my hair out in indignation and waving my hanky in displeasure on the terraces in those days. For the following two seasons I took stick off Blues fans for my anti-Eck stance. Funny how these lads and lasses are now the fiercest of McLeish critics - fickle is the beautiful game I 'spose.
You ghostly audience, I'll spare you the dossier I could write on what infuriated me about him. That's perhaps for another time.
But what's come to light this week mind, is N'Zogbia registering his dismay at Villa Park and McLeish's general inability to manage flair players. We had that dismay at St Andrews. I suffered on that one night. Staring out the window..
It were a cold evening. Ice claimed the glass panes. The night-sky was a quilt of blue and black. The stars were fixed, motionless like shards of glass sprinkled over a dark fabric. Timeless scene. What the date was, or the year, I don't know. What the time was I don't know - it was half 6.
I lit the lamp and shuffled towards the wireless. BRMB's Tom Ross was with Birmingham manager Alex McLeish, and they were at a drinking tavern doing a fans forum with some locals.
Birmingham were on the verge of relegation. It was McLeish's first season. He'd taken over when we were relatively safe, and yet no improvements were forthcoming.
The wrinkly-faced Scot sat in front of the crowd. Alongside him the plump radio representative, Tom Ross. A bitter man, a man twisted and prone to hate but disguising it well with a false chuckle masking indignation and a misguided sense of superiority. He was a Brummie once, but his 'family values', old fashioned views, 'common sense' approach to life and anger with the world were distinctly Yorkshire in their tone. He had become a Geoffrey Boycott, a John Prescott, a Brian Clough, something we all vowed never to be. He's at your family Christmas parties complaining about political correctness and health and safety legislation.
'What's your favourite sandwich Alex!?' hiccuped one fool in the darkened tavern.
'Do you like us fans?' spurted a desperado.
'What's the score for Satdee?' mused a man in double-denim sitting under a spider-web.
'I think we'll win. We're Birmingham City and you guys do us proud' chortled McLeish, prompting applause.
'Give that questioner a crate of Banks' beer for the question of the day!' celebrated Tom Ross, the radio representative.
And so it went.
Sycophants as far as the eye could see. Each leaning towards the stage with sparkling eyes of wonder, toothy grins and a soft question in hand.
All to plan.
I turned from the wireless and bit my top lip. And as I went to walk away, this frail man stood up at the Tavern and the room went quiet.
He was one of those men schooled in football, a man from the 70s who had seen the glorious Birmingham side which entertained and scored for fun. Bob Latchford, Trevor Francis and Bob Hatton. The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.
He was the unremarkable figure in the corner of the bookies with a Racing Post under his arm, quietly going about his business but in that head, there's football knowledge there.
This man slowly rose to his feet.
'The little man over there' snapped indignant Ross, looking in the opposite direction.
The man from the 70s nodded to show that he understood the platform was his.
He cleared his throat with a cool sip of whiskey. Shaking, he unfurled a crimped note and held it in his worn hands. In a frail but totally measured and controlled voice the man from the 70s asked...
'Alex. Every week we play Gary McSheffrey on the left wing, but it's clear for everyone to see that the lad is finding it hard to step up to the premiership level. He cannot beat a man for pace, he doesn't cross, he no longer scores. You have a lad on the bench signed from the Ajax academy, who starred in the recent Euro u-21 Championships for the Dutch team. Why not give him a chance?'
A football question. Unexpected tonight of all nights.
'AWWHHHHWH' The crowd howled outrage. The shouting and annoyance blocked out all other noise but the cacophony of terror. Incandescence. Sheer incandescence.
Ross, king of the sycophants rose from his chair and outstretched his arms. 'Ssshhh' he ordered the crowd. 'Shhhh'.
Ross eyed the man from the 70s with a fixed scowl and checked him up and down.
'I'll take this one Alex' he whispered to the gingerman.
'All I'm saying, to you.... son, is football is about opinions. And there's a reason you're down there and Alex is up here next to me, eh?'
'HahahahahahaHAHahh. Yeeaaahhhh!!!!!!!' The elephants in the room screamed with delight.
They jumped into a dance of triumph, stamping their feet and banging their glasses on the tables in approval. They cheered, spitting bits of piss-stained peanuts into the air - a vile indoor rain storm of nut fragments and saliva
The question was answered before it had been asked.
I switched the wireless off.
De Ridder never did play for Birmingham again. McSheffrey gave the ball away every week, lost his marker, played no crosses.
Birmingham were relegated.
Turn from that timeless scene from years ago and look out the window today and every Blues fan is McLeish's worst enemy. I dare say even those elephants that were in that tavern on that frosty night.
McLeish is still alienating flair wingers, but this time at Villa.
I wonder where that frail man is, the one from the 70s, schooled in the game. I wonder if he still walks amongst us. He'll be down at the bookies with the Racing Post under his arm, waiting for the next time he airs his reasoned view and its shouted down by the happy-clapping mob who won't hear a bad word against the manager or the club.
Sometimes it doesn't hurt to hear constructive criticism aimed at your own club.
Sometimes it's healthier to deal with it rather than happy clap over it and pay later.
Put the peanuts down.
Don't be an elephant.
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
|[Above: Tessa Jowell at Westminster]|
Deadly Doug Ellis fixed his tie. Quivering - resembling a man whose best years had long-since trickled away - he screwed open the brylcream, scooped a meagre portion and brushed his white grandad hair back. Today he'd speak on Central News.
I saw that plea. That ill-fated dream.
He gazed at the camera, full of hope, his soft broken words belying a Dunkirk spirit and a fire in the belly. He was ready to submit Birmingham's bid to become the home of the National Stadium to the politicians in that London. For of the 92 clubs surveyed...87 desired the new stadium to have a midlands location. The Birmingham bid was ready to start tomorrow. The Birmingham bid was cheaper. The Birmingham bid was value for money for the taxpayer. Deadly Doug turned from the camera and began his walk to that London with the documents proudly clenched tight to his chest.
Deadly reached the brown Gothic hall where our leaders ponder and peruse in between the tea, piss and debauchery. He rattled on the door. 'Rat'- 'atat' - 'tat'. Perched in a demonic dusty tower Tessa Jowell glared down with her piercing glass, multi-coloured, lizard eyes; her beak pecking away in uncomfortable apprehension.
Deadly looked around, finally that gate slowly opened, an eerie cold voice seeped out through the walls, it filled the air...'come in Mr Ellis, come to make a donation have we?'
'No maam' replied honest Deadly, proudly clenching the documents near his chest, 'I'm here on other business'.
'Other businesssss?'..............Tessa Jowell slithered from behind a pillar, gliding out of the shadows and appeared before Deadly.
'Yes maam. It's regarding the National Stadium proposal. I've travelled here to deliver a bid from the people of Birmingham. It's...it's received national praise, been backed by a majority of football chairmen and we believe it's financially the more efficient.'
Jowell's wrinkled face forced a false smile, revealing a hideous array of coffee-stained crooked yellow teeth. 'I ssssee. Well Mr Ellis, you will be aware that we'll need to scrutinise this bid and should it prove favourable, you'll be hearing from us.'
She turned from Deadly's view, the false smile instantly transmuting back to icy sneer. 'I trust you'll show yourself out Mr Ellis' dismissed Jowell. Deadly dothed his cap and went home, back to the forest of Arden.
Jowell? That woman reentered the Gothic castle. Picture the darkened scene, nowt in view but a second figure standing near a red fire licking the black air. 'Have these papers burnt girl' she commanded to her orc-like Essex assistant, rendered vile to behold by years of sunbed usage. 'Yeh OK that's reem, you know what I mean like?' responded the Essex orc in the affirmative. She tossed Deadly's work into the flames. Jowell smirked,disappearing into the room next door. The Wembley bid team were in there enjoying hospitality. Laughter filled the air. The deed was done.
O vile bitch. Lizard-eyed crone, must you act this way? Is your soul not for redemption? Why lie to Deadly and spread false hope? You were never to consider the Birmingham bid fairly in the first place. Logic pointed at the midlands but you turned to other impulses. Foul wench.
Deadly returned to the Forest of Arden. Weeks passed, months, years. He grew older still, but he maintained a stare down his rustic driveway in hope of the positive reply.
Alas it would never come. Deadly was made a fool. Birmingham was made a realm of fools. Shameless Jowell appeared on the news, her cold claws handing over the keys to the giggling Wembley simpletons.
Poor Deadly. What became of him? We don't know. Some say he died shortly afterwards. Some say he still lives and can be seen floating along the garden of his Majorcan villa. The truth is I don't know, and I don't want to know.
That London clique. They drove him mad with insanity.
They're all in it together. All for London, screw the rest, screw the people. These football Illuminati never go without.
The people's stadium plans nought more than ash on the grounds of a darkened Westminster castle.
It's enough to force tears of pride from those glass lizard eyes. Aye, it might just do that.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
Feathers dropped from the above. Big chunks of white peppered the outside grey sky as I peered out the window from the warmth of the MFI living room. Nothing stuck, no whiteness here. The floor was normal, the grass bits were green and the tarmac black. These lumps of ice danced along the ground, they fizzled, sizzled, melted away into nothing. An icy vision of Southampton's second half of the season. Started off solid enough, but will peter out.
A smile broke. Nice to see a wintery scene, the harmless beauty to it. But then it started to stick, and the green grass went white, and the black tarmac went white, and the women and the BMW drivers started spiralling on the roads, twirling and swirling out of control hither and thither, like the kettles skimmed by the fat Scottishes across the ice at the winter Olympics. Curling they call it.
'Blues v Southampton? It'll be called off' typed the faceless Internet weirdos. No it wouldn't. The game went ahead. It was to be shown on Sky Sports, they wanted it to go ahead, and their whim is overriding. In this age Jesus is dead, there's only Peter Beagrie.
I've been saying Blues will finish in the top two all season.
For me it makes no sense to write off a team with a premiership-quality defence; in Beausejour [though he's now gone] Burke and Redmond the best wingers in the division; premiership-class central midfielders; an international class striker in Nikola Zigic and the Championship's most proven striker in Marlon King.
People mumbled fears about going down...'this season is about consolidation' they coughed. Some blurted out hopes of the play offs - Pah! This team is arguably the best in the league, oh please show a little more ambition won't you? No? Then perhaps realism? You under-value our assets. Perhaps you do it on purpose to reduce pressure on our players. If so, fair play.
But ever since we lost to Southampton away and they stamped their false authority on the league I've been gunning for them. Ever since we dropped out of the Europa League and we'd got all our players fit and settled I've been gunning for them top two counting down the days until they visited St Andrews so we could beat them convincingly. So we could show those pessimistic Blues fans just how good this team is.
February now, and we were still unbeaten at home. 18 goals scored in our last 4 matches. We'd only conceded 6 goals at home all season. Southampton hadn't won in three and were creaking and groaning - they were there for the taking. You'd have been a brave man to bet on anything other than a Birmingham win.
That snow, that pissing snow, it kept coming, it was on loop, it never ceased, and now the snow rose above your ankles. The game kicked off. The players couldn't see. The players couldn't run. They carefully plodded each foot down so not to lose their balance like Neil Armstrong must have when he first set foot on the big ball of cheese in the night sky, worried about slipping and flying off into space. You can't play to your optimum when you're walking around like a 60's astronaut.
No proper football was played. How could it? The game was rendered as 90 minutes of misplaced passes, miscontrol, players falling over and both teams being overly cautious.
However, even in these conditions you could tell that Blues were better than Southampton in every department. The Blues defence was solid tight. Southampton had no shots. Keep that door shut.
The Blues midfield dealt with anything the Saints had to offer and replied by carving out all the best chances in the game. N'Daw ran the show. Chasing down any Southampton player in possession and forcing error, winning every ball in the air, providing a one man impenetrable blanket in front of the defence.
Our attack? Marlon had a shot pushed onto the post. Rooney found the ball at his feet just 3 yards in front of the goal but contrived to fluff the chance. Blues rocked Southampton many times and could have scored off at least three corners.
But ultimately these attacks weren't as potent as they'd normally have been because of the stifling conditions. The game ended how it was always going to end as soon as Sky gave the nod for it to continue - it finished in stalemate.
Some of these skates said that Southampton had more of the ball. But contain yourself, no Southampton move lasted longer than 3 passes before the ball was misplaced or it trickled out of play to nothing. And when they did have possession they did nowt with it. Blues made a conscious choice to adapt to the elements, go a bit more direct than we usually do and consequently Blues were the only team that looked like winning the game.
Southampton couldn't believe their luck.
They had come to statistically the hardest place to get a result in the football league, off the back of a poor run of form, against a free-scoring Birmingham side and yet the Gods had conspired to put pay to the expected Brum win.
It was as if the Physio and the men from the sea had somehow built a weather machine.
I was irked, true, sure, why not? Like I said, I'd been saying it was a matter of time before we got into the automatic spaces and I was anticipating us beating Southampton, but I hadn't factored in a prematch blizzard scuppering ideas.
Just means we'll have to wait a bit longer until we get where we should be.
Thursday, 2 February 2012
Those of you insane enough to have read all of the articles in 'A Voice in the Wind' thus far will have probably clicked by now that though I'm a football man, I quite like crowbarring in a tenuous link with ancient history, and as we prepare ourselves for the arrival of Southampton on satdee, this snippet will do just that.
The 300 Spartans - the movie was alright, bit homo-erotic but then again good use of lighting. In the real incident, it were a bit different, there were 300 Spartans, but also 400 Thebans and 700 Thespians - though what 700 actors are going to bring to the table is anyones' guess.
They held that pass against two million Persian mercenaries from the sea, against the favourites, against the odds, until they were betrayed and each man fought till his dying breath. Tellingly, the Athenians stayed away, didn't join in the fight. If there were ESPN in those days, they might have watched from the comfort of their homes.
The Spartans' sacrifice turned the war, it held the Persians back for just long enough to prepare the rest of Greece for battle. And as we're all here today with our alphabets, democracy and EU debt crisis, ultimately, we know the Greeks triumphed.
In less that 48 hours the Physio and his band of League One mercenaries from the sea enter our land.
Our St Andrews, the fortress yet to be breached by any opposition force.
As the Saints have been in the top two all season - and as they're a bit like middle class, watered-down cockneys - figures in the media have been donning red and white striped shirts, thinking of Le Tissier and inappropriately touching themselves proclaiming Southampton to be premiership in-waiting. They predict a Southampton win on the weekend, they want it.
I say, you forget Birmingham at your peril you rats. Blues are the black shadow. You didn't notice it at the start of the season, but now it comes, and nothing can stop it. Every month higher parts of the league table fall under its cloak.
This will be a tough game. Don't get me wrong. There's a case to say this is the most important fixture in the club's modern history. Should we lose, automatic promotion looks a lot tougher and guaranteed promotion perhaps moves a little out of reach.
What would missing out on promotion do to a club whose finances are supposedly on the brink? Could it knacker us for the next 20 years? I know that if we don't go up this season we'll lose our best players. I don't want to turn into Coventry. The Sky Blues haven't finished in the top 6 of any division in 15 years, given their financial ills and their lack of prospects any decent player they procure is swiftly moved on.
The fans who still go have become zombified, numb to the world. Coventry are now nowt more than a dead shell. Take a hammer to the Sky Blue crust and you'll find no centre.
But should we beat Southampton we go a mere two points behind them with a game in hand. Imagine Chris Hughton taking his philosophy to a Premiership Blues? Newcastle last season blew Villa away 5-0 in a display of wingers; pace; crossing; attacking football and desire - straight out of the Hughton handbook.
You'd think then, that given the importance of this game the missing 10k Blues fans would return to roar the lads on. But no, by all reports the crowd is likely to comprise the usual 17k hardy soles.
These Athenians aren't coming. Oh, don't worry, they'll be back should we get to the play off final. They'll be back should we get to the FA cup semi final. They'll be ringing up their brother's father's shoe's uncle for spares. Spineless dogs.
It's up to you 17,000 Brummies to make a stand on Saturday.
Bite Southampton! Vocally hit them hard! Don't give those shits a moment's peace. Make them fear the ball!
When the ball trickles back to their keeper scream ear-shattering screams and force the snarling skate into mistakes. We've seen it done before, Richard Wright didn't like it.
Boo them, jeer them, make them cry. Make them tremble before the St Andrews floodlights.
Don't get on our own players' backs. Let our players relish having the ball, make them seek it. Don't ironically cheer Zigic when he heads the ball, roar him on.
The Physio is laughing from his bedsit near the sea. He says his penalty appeals will blot out our chants. Shut his gob up for him.
The Blues are a class act, and they're on fire. But you know the difference a hostile passionate atmosphere can make.
You 17,000 Brummies, you have the chance to send these cocksure skates back into the sea. Give it your all. And we'll once again dine on the top stage, but this time with a manager who knows what he's doing.