I wasn’t expecting a good transfer window, but I’d hoped. The squad had shrunk, and one, only one, addition had materialised, akin to papering over the cracks using a single piece of Andrex. Financial wise, Birmingham City is a multi floored cloak and dagger store, the day to day management infrastructure, supplied by the same store. I don’t get frustrated anymore, I’m at the next stage of just being fed up with the shenanigans…..if only I could get the loyalty I have for the club, surgically removed on the NHS…. Like last week’s away trip to St Andrews for the F.A.Cup game with Coventry, (Novelty still hasn’t worn off) I got the bus into town, and went in the Welly, Gary from Hereford was in there with a mate of his, and we chatted football, and places round the country, that are good for ale. Pete came in and he joined us, as did Taffy who handed me over the Shoot annual from 1980, he’d picked up a couple of months previous, flicking through it, transported me back to a time when football was a lot less cyclically commercial. Paul and Jackie came in, JK finished the group, turns out that Spoons and JK are in the same hotel as me for the Bristol City game, next week. We moved round to the Colemore, a place I’m still adjusting to, as I’m still in awe of how it’s been created by the Thornbridge Brewery, it’s decor is truly something to behold. When you go round in groups, you can sometimes only know someone superficially, you can ‘know’ someone, without actually ‘knowing’ them. Me and Taff got the chance to chat more than we usually would’ve done, something that we both ended up enjoying. It was similar to an episode of Eastenders back in 1987, when the production staff at the Beeb, had gone on strike. (Before you go thinking your device must be broken, there was only 4 channels in those days) The Beeb were having to completely fill their schedules with repeats, more than what was usual, and my Mom steadfastly refused to watch ITV, it was her telly after all, and she paid the bills, I digress, this episode of Eastenders centred around only two characters for the whole of the half hour, you got to know, and understand the two characters in depth, fast forward to the present day Colemore, me and Taffy, got to know each other better, we said farewell to Paul, Jackie and the Albion fans, and walked down to the Kilda, where Mikey, and Blues Paul were, it ended up with me and Taffy on our again, and I peeled off another layer of my personality, much to the amusement of Taffy. On the way down to Roberto’s, we bumped into Birdy, Bryn and their Forrest supporting mate, who were off to Digbrew, Steve and Spoons were in Bob’s, they’d been in the new Rock and Roller, with it being the first day of opening, we’d decided to avoid what we expected to be busy, turns out, it wasn’t. Mine and Steve’s ears pricked up with Spoons and JK’s idea for going round Clifton on Friday, before it was time to walk up the hill to Blues.
Just as I got to the turnstile, I realised I’d left the annual in Bob’s, when Jerry had the Anchor, as a regular, you could leave things for safe keeping there, meaning you didn’t have to cart things to the game with you, oh how I miss how that place was. The first thing that came apparent from how Blues lined up, was the Tinkerman had decided, in his infinite wisdom, to stick Bellingham out on the wing, the left wing, it was like having a brand new computer, and using it to wedge a door open, he was still being used, but not how he should’ve been used. Even with only ten minutes on the clock, Jude could see he was being wasted, and remonstrated with Clotet on the touchline, Clotet didn’t back down to the petulance, and Bellingham, to his credit, insisted of sulking, grasped the role he’d been given, some players ten years plus Bellingham’s senior, would’ve chucked their toys out of the pram, Jude didn’t, he stepped up. I’ve grown to like Clotet, though most of his decisions, good or bad, are baffling, he does give me the impression that he hasn’t a plan, or would know what one looked like, if he saw one, but then that’s the whole of the club at the present time, no singing from the same hymn sheet, they can’t decide which hymn to sing, or even whether to sing one at all. After the tiff and flexing of muscles, the game was more in Forrest’s favour, not by much but it was, although the first goal wasn’t inevitable, the result of the move that brought it was, a flowing move that the Blues couldn’t get anywhere near, similar to knowing ‘who done it’, after reading the first page of a thriller. Forrest got a penalty, I had no confidence whatsoever that Camp would save it, not even the slightest of hopes, so I went to the toilet, I should’ve had more faith, it wasn’t his first penalty save for Blues after all, he saved it, I not only missed the save, but missed Blues going straight up the other end and equalising, it’s a bittersweet experience being at a game and missing a goal because you’re elsewhere, you’re happy but you can’t help cursing your luck. Pete joined us for the second half, turns out he works with a bloke that sits behind me. The game was pretty end to end stuff, although Forrest were getting better chances, neither team had the upper hand, we scrambled the ball in, one of those, where you couldn’t quite make out who scored…..oh hang on, the referee runs over to the linesm…referee’s assistant for a consultation……the goal stood. I wasn’t expecting us to be in this position. Not all, but the vast majority of humanity is competitive, it’s in our nature, for a lot of us around the world, football is a vehicle for it, I love intricate passing, love watching Blues play it even more, some only care for winning, need that feeling of success, of superiority, that they don’t have in their personal lives, when our beloved are homing in on 3 points, that love of sumptuous quality football is jettisoned, ‘just kick it!’, we held on, and the Vile had lost too, happy days.
It was back to Bob’s to see if the Shoot annual had been handed in, I met up with Spoons on the way, it had indeed been handed in, I was relieved on two accounts, that I hadn’t let Taffy down as he’d been good enough to pass it on to me in the first place, and I hadn’t lost what is a fantastic piece of nostalgia. Russ, Nick and a couple of the other postmen were in there, before Badge, bedecked in that epileptic fit inducing coat of his, came in. Leaving Spoons to go to the Spotted Dog, I walked into town.
“Yeah, I suppose I do”
“Heart of Brum”
“Better than streetlights”
I walked up past some kind of art thingy, I was feeling in a rather good mood, so was more appreciative of this kind of thing than usual. I went home contented.