Loopy Lou.

After writing such an epic of a blog post, this one will be a good deal shorter. Not because I haven’t any memories, on the contrary, this particular season made a huge impression on me. So much so that I’m cutting it into chunks. How d’yer eat an elephant? Pass the salt and pepper, and I’ll show you. (No elephants were killed, cooked and eaten in the production of this blog post……….honest. By the way, I don’t suppose you’ve got any bread?) 91/92 season was as I’ve stated, my all time favourite season. Macari had been seduced by Stoke and Terry Cooper had been whisked away under the cover of darkness from Exeter. That’s not because we didn’t want Exeter to realise he’d gone, more that we didn’t want Terry to realise where he’d been taken to. After the euphoria of Wembley, Macari absconding to Stoke was a bit of a blow. A new season always rejuvenates the optimism though. I must admit, after seeing 50,000 Blues fans at Wembley, I was expecting more to turn up at St Andrews for the very first game of the season versus Bury. I know Bury hadn’t got the biggest of followings, but I still thought the crowd would be more than 10,000. Maybe it was more of the Kumar’s tax massaging. Macari’s football style was direct. Basically, that’s the nice way of putting it. It was effective and after Mackay, it was just nice to see Blues winning a few more games. Cooper’s football style was much more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Bury never gave up against us, but we had just enough to edge the game 3.2. The season was up and running. I’ve already written about Fulham away and other than beating Terry Cooper’s old side 4.0, at home in the League Cup, I don’t remember anything. I don’t remember the 1.0 victory over Darlington at St Andrews, but I do remember going down to Elm Park. The crowds at home may have started on the small side, but the away following increased. Reading away was the first time I got to meet Pughey and Walshy’s mate Mickey O’Brien. The game was a tight affair and we managed to get away with a point from a 1.1 draw. News spread round the away end that one of us travelling hoards had snatched the takings from one of the turnstiles. Seven days later, and our 100% win record at home had come to an end. A late late equaliser secured a point against Peterborough United. On the following Tuesday, we played Chester City at home. Several of my mates had indicated that they’d like to accompany me to a Blues game, but none of them had had the courage to follow through with their desires. Chris, a Shrewsbury Town regular had been the latest to express an interest. I told him what time train I would be catching, and then promptly put it to the back of my mind, believing, that like the rest, he’d be yet another no show. Imagine my surprise and quite substantial shock, when whilst I was waiting on the opposite platform for the train to arrive, I spotted the figure of Chris. I took him first to The Wrexham, where I met up with the lads I’d become friends with, and then to my regular place on the Kop, where I introduced him to the rest of the growing circle of friends I’d been busily acquiring. This was where it got interesting. Chester took the lead and duly increased it. 2:0 down, and my mate from where I lived was seen as bad luck. Chris, with beer weighing heavily on his bladder, went and relieved himself in the urinal at the back of the terracing. Whilst he was gone, Blues pulled one back. In the second half, Chris was implored to ‘Go and have another one.’ A little later, he did. The same thing happened again. While he was away, we equalised. You couldn’t make it up. (So I haven’t.) He managed to watch the winner from Blues. From there on in, he was hooked. Shrewsbury Town wasn’t for him, Birmingham City was. Walshy, Pughey and me had talked about getting up to Hartlepool for our game there. Midland Entertainment’s had advertised a coach going up to it, in the Evening Mail. Walshy had rung to book seats on the coach. We turned up at St Andrews and the coach travelled up. Just outside Hartlepool, the coach pulled over. The plan was to escort all the Blues coaches to the ground. We could see a pub on a housing estate next to us, a few hundred yards away. As we waited, several of our coach had had enough and had jumped off to get a pint or two at the pub. Walshy was up for it and followed. I looked at Pughey who was hesitant, he didn’t fancy our chances of making the game and then making it home. I was in two minds Pughey was adamant he was staying put. Walshy realising Pughey was ‘Being a girl again’ relented and rejoined us. So ladies and gentlemen, we turned up to Victoria Park sober. Getting off the coach and traipsing up to the ground, a luton van pulled up in front. The driver and passengers jumped out, went to the back of the van and lifted up the shutter door. Around 20 Blues lads clambered out. Brum had been quite warm for late September, there were few coats in evidence. I can honestly say that Hartlepool that day was freezing cold. It didn’t help matters that one of the stands that ran along the side of the pitch had previously been knocked down. There was nothing stopping the biting wind that was coming off the sea. Blues didn’t manage to stop the home side taking the lead either. Nor did they manage to fashion an equaliser. It had been a long trip up, a long trip back, and we’d lost for the first time that season. On top of this, we didn’t get a drink till we got back to Brum. A week later, we were back to winning ways at least. Preston North End were dispatched 3:1. Though I don’t remember anything. Shrewsbury Town away I’ve already written about. I remember the next game though. What a game, and what a victory. After beating Exeter in the first round, we’d been drawn against Luton Town in the second round of the League Cup. It was over two legs and Pughey and Walshy had been able to get to the away leg and back home again afterwards. They’d celebrated a creditable 1:1 draw. Now before you go thinking, ‘but it’s only Luton.’ Let me tell you that at the time this game was played, Blues were in the Third Division, Luton were in the First. (That’s the Premier League in new money.) It was a proper end to end cup tie against Luton’s first team. There was none of your weakened teams back then. A late late Blues winner sent us through. Thing is, not a lot was made of the ‘upset’. We may have been two divisions below our opponents, but in reality, we were being seen as a big club again, or at least bigger than struggling Luton. The media had expected us to win. The rugby union world cup was taking place in this country at the time Stockport County came to play us at St Andrews. At the time, I couldn’t stand rugby, especially rugby union. There were two reasons for this dislike. The event was to give me a third. The first secondary school I attended was up itself. It was an ex Grammar school and still saw itself as that. Football was a game for oiks, rugby union was a game for gentlemen. I’m slightly built now, but back when I attended the school, a gentle breeze would’ve been enough to take me off my feet. P.E. lessons rarely saw a football, we were instead, forced to chase a big leather egg. The second reason was the type of people who follow the sport in England. The game certainly wasn’t one for the working class, I’m working class and proud of it. The third reason was handed to me by the Football League who, because these egg chasing matches were taking place in the afternoon, allowed football clubs to move their kickoffs. The cross over between rugby league and football is minimal, but with union, it’s nonexistent. I was indignant about Blues moving the kickoff forward of the Stockport game, it made no odds. Stockport stuck one of their hideous kits on a lamppost and played him upfront. At that time, he was the tallest player I’d ever seen and he gave us problems. Thankfully, he pulled up with injury and was replaced. The normal sized substitution was easily handled and Blues ran out 3:0 winners. The lamppost was to not only become known to me, but would go on to become a favourite of mine. Kevin Francis. Later, Barry Fry would sign this Bluenose bean pole for Blues. Wigan Athletic at home wasn’t to be plain sailing. It was to end 3:3, but only because we managed a last minute equaliser. There was to be no early kickoff for our next game. West Bromwich Albion away. Considering the level both clubs found themselves, this was a huge game. To put it in perspective, imagine Manchester City playing Liverpool. 26,168 for an all ticket game in the Third Division (League One in new money.) With Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Portsmouth all in League One this season, you’ll get the idea of Blues, Albion and Stoke in 91/92 attendance wise. I know it was only a short hop, but for some unknown reason, Walshy and Pughey invited me over to Bromsgrove for a drink round their home town on the Friday night. Their paper thin reasoning was that the Baggies ground was close enough to do it by taxi. It was closer than Wellington was I suppose, but not much really. After stopping at Walshy’s, we met up with Pughey early and waited for the pub to open. There was a pool table and we played a few games. I was useless but miraculously, I won the last game to remain on the table. Three Blues lads had come into the pub. They’d got cue cases. (Obviously they were driving to the game and the cues would be left in the car.) Bizarrely, I then preceded to play like a professional and just kept winning. I can honestly say that when it comes to pool, I’m only a little bit better than absolute rubbish, but that day, I morphed into the world champion. I’m exaggerating of course, but I’d never played as well before and haven’t since. I suppose you could claim it was my ‘Infinite number of monkeys’ moment. I don’t care now, and couldn’t understand then, but I gave up in the end because it became embarrassing. It was like I could’ve used a warped broom stale and still have won. 8,000 Blues went to that game, I still managed to find Hamed and ‘help’ him eat his corned beef sarnies (He took a packed lunch.) And I managed to find the others I stood with down at St Andrews. The on loan Kevin Drinkell scored a valuable winner with a header. On the Tuesday, First Division (Premier League in new money blah blah blah.) Crystal Palace were the visitors in the 3rd round of the League Cup. We drew 1:1 but I can’t remember if we took the lead or equalised. I do remember thinking me and Chris were going to miss it because the train we were on was stuck at Cosford station for long enough to wonder whether it was worth getting a taxi to Wolverhampton and then get a train from there. Eventually it moved and we raced to get a pint in the Wrexham before the game. So that’s the first chunk of elephant. I hope it was marinated enough for your tastes.

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