Last home game of the season, and even after being stripped of 9 points by the E.F.L., there’s nothing to play for, that included the opposition. (Not the 9 points penalty, obviously) the beautiful weather of the Easter holiday, replaced by storm Hannah, reported with unbridled enthusiasm by Matt Taylor, I wondered if he’d actually asked to convey the forecast for free, or whether he did it in lieu of not having to potentially report on another hot, dry, sunny Summer, either way, I wished he was made to be stuck outside, on a hillside somewhere in the middle of said storm, in t-shirt and Bermuda shorts, and maybe then he wouldn’t show so much pleasure predicting horrendous weather at a weekend, particularly a Saturday. I ran for the bus, sitting down on the top deck, it was only then, did it dawn on me, I’d forgotten my phone, getting back off at the next stop, I walked back, wondering why it is, that our minds play tricks on us like that, as usual, I’d gone through the usual mental check list, before I left the flat, so how did I miss the thing that’s become almost compulsory to us? Not the best of starts, after getting the train tickets for next week, I walked up to the Wellington, only Darrell was in there, we compared how great Durham is, before Paul came in, the conversation turned to the playoffs. Jinksy came in, looking worse for wear, and still having a coach trip up to Glasgow after the days game to look forward to, talk turned to bad blood between Rangers and Aberdeen, and the Scottish casual scene. Steve came in, as did J.K. Steve had ditched the t-shirt and shorts look of Easter, in favour of the thick Winter coat of Christmas. We headed to the Head Of Steam, where Spoons was already in there, with his Brother and Nephew. I couldn’t help noticing how much alike they looked facial wise, as chalk and cheese, otherwise. Blues/Rangers Ian came in, before I joined Spoons, Brother and Nephew, walking down to Kilda, it had been 20 years since Ade had been back to Brum, and it had surprised him how much it had changed. New Street station Moor Street station, the Bull Ring, trams, shops. Birmingham, like everywhere, is ever evolving, but as a big city does, it does it on the same big level, before I’d even moved to Brum to live, I’d been coming to Birmingham for decades on a regular basis, I never needed much of an excuse to jump on the train, you put up with whatever disruption developments cause, like it’s nothing, it’s only when you see photographs of what a place used to look like, is your memory jogged, I couldn’t imagine the changes that Ade was trying to get his head round. Rich was in Kilda, after Warwickshire had lost the previous day, and the weather turning rubbish again, neither of us had the inclination to travel to Worcester for the cricket equivalent to Villa v Blues. Digbrew, and I caught up with Aida, or he caught up with me, he’d seen the Gardner Sister’s on the motorway, coming back from Rotherham, we were in agreement with wanting Blues to be Gardner free, next season. Music is never too far away from conversation with us ale trailers, he showed me his latest coloured vinyl purchases, on his phone, (Told you, we’re all almost physically attached to the things now) there was just enough time to drop in at Clink, before walking up the hill for the last time this season, Dave Thomas had sold out of his M.I.B.s, so made do with just the programme.
The kick-off fairies must have bewitched the Wigan defence, as Blues were already 1:0 up by the time I made it to my seat, not that I was all that bothered, it felt like a pre season friendly, but with a crowd, a fair sized crowd, as it happens, well with no international football tournament to look forward to, you have to get that last ‘fix’ I suppose. Jutkiewics had got the goal, that millstone of never making it passed 12, not only smashed, but unlucky 13 not now going to be his best season either. There just wasn’t any impetus shown by either side, expectations evaporated, the board went up indicating added time, I moved to get in the toilet, before the rush, and ended up missing Wigan’s equaliser. I wasn’t bothered, it didn’t mean anything. The second half was just as attritional as the first, Che Adams given the chance with his substitution, to wave goodbye to the adoring masses, he might grace the turf of St Andrews again, but it’ll be in a different coloured shirt if he does. Whether or not he plays at Reading, I wish him well, he’s worked hard this season, both in contribution and personal development. He’s matured, whoever gets him, they’ll be getting a totally different player, to the one that finished last season. After supporting Blues for as long as I have, I’ve not only become battle hardened, but with a perverse sense, love something hanging on the end of a season, doesn’t matter which end of the table, but something, it’s part of the addiction, that adrenaline rush, that mental anguish you put yourself through, the board went up for the second time, and after bidding farewell, wishing those that have to put up with me for 9 months of a season, a good Summer, I left.
I had that ‘meh’ feeling, as I walked back down the hill, even with having the impending points deduction hanging over us, it’s not been a spectacular season, mostly mid table obscurity, ‘meh’, I couldn’t even raise any enthusiasm to head back to the Dog, even that was ‘meh’, maybe I would’ve felt more like it, had we won, but I didn’t, hopefully, we’ll be back to normal next season, well normal for Birmingham City anyway, even with renewing my season ticket again, I’m planning more ground hopping, I genuinely like the people around me in block 11, and the ale trailers that don’t go to away games, but home games are pretty insipid these days, almost a duty rather than a pleasure. . . . . whereas away games. . . . they’re a different story. Jinksy caught up with me as we walked up into town, he was off to catch his coach, I got the bus home.