The news this week broke of the death of Terry Cooper. It would therefore be remiss of me to not acknowledge it seeing as I’m writing about 91/92, the impression it made on me and not least, the impression that the football Terry Cooper got Blues playing or at least trying to play, made on me. After Macari, Cooper had a difficult act to follow. After all, the diminutive Scot had won us our first trophy at Wembley. Terry not only filled those boots, but gave the boots style. With the new season upon us, season ticket bought and with hotel booked, train tickets purchased and now match ticket in the away end for Blues first game, resting safely on a chest of drawers, it finally looks like I’m going to be going back to posting current trips and not just memories. That in mind, I’ll jump forward through Terry’s time at Blues. He won us promotion in his first season. In his second, the collapse of the BCCI, meant that the Kumar’s lost all their money. Cooper’s second season was one of immense difficulties on the football side of things. Try working with your hands and feet chained together and a length of industrial strength sticking tape covering your mouth. Terry conducted himself with nothing but sheer class. Never mind personal thoughts of losing his job, he was having to work with the threat of the club going out of existence. The sleep that bloke must’ve lost through worry should not be underestimated. History tells us that David’s, Sullivan and Gold, along with Karen (Spits on floor just at writing her name.) Brady, breezed through the door, with their check book. We stayed up that season, Terry’s second, with a goal in the very last game, from one of the players Cooper was able to sign with the money he was given to spend. Cooper’s third season and the expectation that came with this new money, finally got to him. The very first time dissension was voiced from the terraces due to results not being what was wanted, Cooper resigned. He was cajoled into helping Exeter back out the following season, but not only was the situation too dire to turn around, but Terry’s heart just wasn’t in it. Those months of daily strife at Blues in his second season had done for him. For me, he was simply the last proper gentleman to manage Birmingham City. Rest in peace Mr Cooper, and thank you.
So back to 91/92 and that elephant. I’ve got to say, it’s rather juicy. Torquay United were dispatched 3:0 at home, nope, don’t remember anything. The thing is with home games, most just merge into one another. You’re enjoying yourself, it’s not the daily grind, but it’s still routine, a different routine granted, but still routine. How many times do we do things but instantly have no recollection of it? Our memories, or more importantly, our brains, are elsewhere. We compute what is more important. Huddersfield Town away was a memory I’ve managed to hang on to. (A deafening sigh? Really? I’ve only just started.) The away mob consisted of several regulars. Two of those regulars who just happened to be from Hereford were in contact with Ian Rogerson. It didn’t seem important at the time, how much of a big thing, getting tickets off a professional footballer, and one that was actually playing for Blues, really was. To us, it was much more of a big thing, that they used to go and watch Blues around the country. Away crowds that follow Blues are boisterous, hated, adorned, but never ignored. These two had purchased the only two t-shirts that had the winning team group from the Leyland Daf Cup on the front, in Hereford, and they drank cider. Even the cliche of that was lost on me. In my defence, I drank cider at the time. Why am I mentioning them? They always announced their presence, no matter where they were, with a shout of ‘CIDER’ in a Hereford accent. Huddersfield, was the first time I remember seeing them. Unlike the previous season, when the result wasn’t all that important, this season, it did. Both sides were flying high in the division, and it attracted a much bigger crowd. Double the size in fact. Me, Pughey and Walshy went on the away terracing instead of the seats. Several players in the Huddersfield team were to go on to have a good career, including Iwan Roberts who scored the winner for them in a 3:2 win. The following week, it was down to the south coast for the F.A.Cup game against Torquay United. Yes, yes, I’ve written about it before, don’t panic, I’m not going to write about it again. You can relax. Two successive Saturday home games followed. A 1:0 victory against Exeter City, and a 2:0 victory over Bradford City. No memories whatsoever you’ll be glad to read. I hadn’t made it down to Crystal Palace in the League Cup replay, but we’d drawn, and by all accounts, should’ve won. Travelling down to London to watch the midweek game, would’ve entailed taking unsolicited time off work, and finding somewhere to sleep as I would’ve been stranded due to missing the last train back to Wellington. After the first replay had ended in a draw, a coin was tossed to determine where the 2nd replay would be held. Palace were fortunate, the 2nd replay would see Blues heading back down to London. Plans were drawn up for me to meet a lad called Mark in a branch of McDonald’s on the Pershore road. Firstly, mobile phones were nonexistent for the vast majority. Really, nobody had them. Secondly, I had never met Mark, and didn’t know what he looked like. Mark was going to be driving down to London for the game, he’d got the room in his car. I went down to McDonald’s, got there early. I sat there scanning every customer that came in. Several came in that fitted the description I’d been given, but I just wasn’t sure, and I’ve got to say, I just wasn’t confident enough as a person, to go up to any of them to ask if one of them was named Mark, and knew Pughey and Walshy. In the end, I bottled it and knowing that if I was to get to the game at all, I needed to move, and move fast to make the train down to Euston. I ran from McDonald’s, back into town and got a ticket for the train. I just managed to catch one before it moved off. I collapsed on the floor next to the door I’d just come through, the train was actually packed and was standing room only. After racing back from Pershore road, I was just glad of a space on the floor. Getting off at Euston, I didn’t know how to get to Selhurst Park, I had a rough idea, but it would’ve meant looking at Underground maps, and wasting time doing so. I spotted a couple with Blues scarves on, scuttling along the platform, they obviously knew what they were doing. I latched on. Getting our tickets for the tube, I got talking to them. Now I can’t remember what train station it was we needed to change back to the overground at, but Selhurst Park is in between three train stations. One of which is the closest. We were good for time, but we needed to get the right train to the right station for the ground. We asked, or shouted at a guard (Nicely, I might add.) Which train. Whether he misinterpreted what we were asking, or in our haste, we misinterpreted his answer, but we got the wrong one. There’d been a choice of two. Getting off at Crystal Palace, ironically the furthest one away from the ground, things were looking forlorn. As we walked the street away from the station, I spotted a taxi cab firm. We wouldn’t make kickoff, but at least we wouldn’t miss too much. I went in the away end, and scoured the terracing for the familiar faces of my friends I should’ve been with. They weren’t there. Palace scored, Blues equalised. Now this is where it really gets interesting. I was wearing tracksuit bottoms. (It’s when I stopped wearing the stupid impractical things.) As I leapt up in celebration, so all my change fell out of my pocket. I managed to salvage some, but not all. I counted what I’d got left. From having more than enough, I would now be stranded somewhere. At halftime, I scoured the terracing again with the hope that I could spot Pughey, Walshy and Mark. I spotted Birdy, recounting my predicament. He was actually stopping at a friend’s the night in London. At most, I was hoping for a lift back to Euston. Instead, he generously lent me £20. (It was the equivalent of about £50 now.) Although cursing my stupidity for wearing tracksuit bottoms, I thanked my lucky stars that I now had some really good mates and a growing social circle. Bidding Birdy farewell, I went back to where I was standing with the ridiculous idea of seeing if I could spot any of the money I had dropped. What I did spot, was Pughey, Walshy and Mark. I actually did remember him from one of the many people i’d seen in McDonald’s. Because of their lateness, they were though, in the seats. Palace scored what turned out to be the winner, though we pressed manfully to get a second equaliser. Blues were out, and I managed to meet up with the car load I should’ve been with. They had been stuck in traffic, hence why they were late. Mark, with no parking option, had just dumped his car on someone’s drive. I stopped at Walshy’s that night, travelling up to Brum with him in the morning. He worked in Brum anyway. I went up to the ticket office and got tickets for Bury away for me, Pughey and Walshy. No small part thanks to Birdy, and the money he’d lent me. In between Blues games, I went to Wolves v Sunderland. Blues hadn’t got a game, and so I had the idea of just drinking in my local. My mate Will’s brother Rob was arguing with his girlfriend in there, so much so, that he asked if I fancied doing the Wolves game just to escape. Me being me, wasn’t going to turn the chance down. It was football after all. Sunderland had 2 players sent off, yet Wolves still struggled to win the game 1:0. Rob got well inebriated and the argument with his girlfriend just carried on when we got back. Bournemouth away, I’ve written about, 18th December brought our first meeting with Stoke and the bloke who had become a figure of hate, Lou Macari. Chris had introduced a friend of ours to the Blues. A Liverpool fan, but one who was open to opportunity. I’m quite trusting as a person, so was Chris. Dave wasn’t trust worthy, but we weren’t to know. Anyway, I’m digressing. Chris was a bit of a motorhead. He had a mini van which he used to display at vintage car shows. He used it to get us to Stoke. Thinking back, I loved riding in it, but there’s no way if I’d have been Chris, would I have taken it to a game. Don’t worry, nothing happened to it. A mate of Dave came with us. Blues lost in that Leyland Daf Cup game 3:1. The result was more of a side issue really, the whole of the Blues support just wanted to spend the whole game barracking Macari and that’s exactly what we did. As we filtered out of the ground, Dave’s mate hung back, although we advised him that he’d get lost if he didn’t join us, he said he’d make his own way back. Again, we advised him that there wasn’t a train back. He wasn’t phased by this. We left him. I saw him a few weeks later, he’d got back, but had walked and hitched back. A strange lad. Fulham came to town on the last Saturday before Christmas, and were handed a 3:1 defeat as an early present. The Saturday between Christmas day and New Year was Bury away. Me Chris and Dave met up with Pughey and Walshy on the train up to Manchester. After drinking in Manchester, we got a taxi to Bury. The fare was split 5 ways, only 4 of us put in. An argument then developed as to who hadn’t stumped up. Everyone claiming that they’d put in. I, of course, vouched for both the lads from where I lived. I knew without doubt that Pughey and Walshy weren’t ever going to pull a fast one, and I totally trusted Chris. Although I vouched for him, I didn’t know Dave as well, but knew him to have a history of being a bit dodgy. I still didn’t think he would be trying to get out of paying though. We covered the fare anyway, but Dave kept protesting his innocence throughout the rest of the day. So much so that I actually think it was him that didn’t pay. The thing is, if he’d been upfront and said that he was on the low side when it came to cash, we’d have carried him. That’s what we were all about, we helped each other when it was needed. Birdy had dug me out of a hole when I needed it, and I repaid him back as soon as I had it. Bournemouth away, if you’re wondering. Birdy was actually so much of a gent that he would’ve waited a lot longer than he did for the money he’d lent me, back. The discrepancy over the taxi fare, soured the mood of the day. A mood that didn’t help with losing 1:0, missing a penalty, yet having the majority of the play and the chances. The exact opposite of what had happened the previous season at Gigg Lane. The new year, meant the run in.
That’s another bit of elephant gone. Wow, I didn’t realise how many recipes there are for elephant on the tinternet. They do recommend not attempting to roast an entire one in your oven though. Something to do with the middle not cooking properly, leading to possible food poisoning and death.