16/12/22 Blues V Reading. Read What You Want.

Solely due to the weather, but I really wasn’t looking forward to this one. Other than being addicted, the one thing I wanted to see, was the progress with the ground. The fact that the work would just be covered with advertising tarpaulin was beside the point. It’s times like this that you truly question your sanity. The game was live on Sky, and I could’ve stayed at home in the warm, and watched it on the telly. Yes, I know I have a season ticket and that should commit you to attending, but once you’ve pay for it, it’s up to you if you actually want to use it or not. As it is, I miss night games during the week due to having to work. If I had a bigger holiday allowance, I would use the floating days for night games, but I haven’t, and so can’t. Here I was, wrapping myself up to resemble the Michelin man, to endure something I’m supposed to enjoy. I got the bus into town, and headed for the Colemore. It’s starting to become a ritual now. Welly for a Saturday home game, Colemore for a night home game. 10 o’clock on a Saturday, 4 o’clock for a night game. Now I’ve given away my movements, I’d better change them. Right, from now on, I’m going to start on a Saturday at exactly 10:36 in the Square Peg, and for a night game at 17:07 in the Figure Of Eight. What’s that? I’ve given them away again? How about, I’m going to be starting in a pub somewhere in the middle of Brum and it’ll be during opening hours. That do? Happy now? Good. Now where was I? What’s that? Yeah yeah, in the Colemore. It’s nice to know you’re paying attention. Steve joined me, as did a Blues lad that’s from the same village as Steve. Although not going to the game, he’s a regular at games home and away, and he and his Dad very often chat to Steve, with the rest of us joining in. Spoons and Jude landed, Spoons in his black and white ‘Bah humbug’ Christmas hat. He actually loves Christmas, but the hat just fits in with his image. JK dropped in, and me and Steve left to meet up with Jinksy in a new bar that’s opened up just next to Snowhill Station.

“Not bad”

If I’ve got any criticism, I don’t like that it’s card only payment and it’s mainly key keg, but that’s par for the course for craft beer bars these days. If you want another criticism, craft beer is more expensive than cask ale. What?, you still want another criticism? Ok, key keg craft beer is carbonated, and the fizziness deflects from what can be some wonderful flavours. Happy now you’ve read the criticism? Wow, you’re a hard crowd to please. Look, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still another good addition. It’s something different and I like it. So sue me. JK caught up with us in the North Bar, before we migrated to Kilda. On the way there though, I did something that I’m honest enough to say, I’m deeply ashamed of. Looking back now, I wish I’d have done the usual, and just caught up, but after three and a half years, I finally did the walk through the biggest Primark in the world. Wow, what an eye opener. Inside the world’s biggest Primark, is the world’s biggest Gregg’s. If that isn’t migraine inducing enough, then the range of clothing for sale with the Gregg’s branding and colour scheme is. Really? What next? The world’s biggest KFC and a range of clothing to match on another floor of the store? I was in the store for less than a minute, and as I walked through, my eyes darted around, just in case someone spotted and recognised me, but emerging back out into the fresh air, I felt dirty. Next time, it’ll be back to the usual route and catching up with whoever I’m with again. Yes, I know it takes longer, but at least my sartorial pride will still be intact. Now traumatised, I was thankful for the beer I had in Kilda. Although not quite the last Friday before Christmas, a lot of firms and companies had decided to have their ‘Christmas do’. The one day of the year, where pubs and bars get swamped with the “I’ll just have a small glass of white wine.”, “I don’t drink usually.”, and “I’ll have the same as you, if that’s ok?” Brigade. By the end of the night, they’re completely wasted, exclaiming their undying love for their ‘New best friends’, whilst hogging the taxi ranks that they never knew existed. As you can probably ascertain from this, I don’t bother with staff parties. I have done in the past, and found out that they’re for most part, rubbish. I don’t get why you’d want to spend your spare time with someone who you’d never talk to if it wasn’t for having to work with them. To be perfectly honest with you, I very rarely socialise with anyone I work with. Mainly, because you find out that other than work, you’ve got absolutely nothing in common, and you end up talking shop. Yes, I get that it’s a form of therapy. The whinging helps with the sense of togetherness, but the best way to switch off from work is to just not think and talk about it. Besides, I don’t get paid to talk about work, outside the place, so why would I want to? I only have two rules for anyone I socialise with from work. No work talk and also, absolutely no work talk. From Kilda, we moved on down to Halton Turner. A place I’d not been in for a while, mainly as I hadn’t been too impressed with their beer since they’d moved to Digbeth. The first thing I clapped eyes on, well when I mean thing, I mean person. The ‘thing’ was that she’d got a job in Halton Turner after Roberto’s tasting emporium (Or whatever it was.) had ceased to exist. Seeing us lot walk through the door, her eyes lit up. (Must think up another description. ‘Eyes lit up’ is getting far too overused on here.) On the one hand, it was good to see that she’d got another job and was now a reason to start going in the brewery tap again, on the other hand, they’re still concentrating on the key keg side of things, to the detriment of the cask ale. Don’t know whose work’s Christmas do it was, and I really don’t care, but at least the brewery were pulling out all the stops. This included giving away free mince pies. As much as I have a severe aversion to those golf ball sized horrible green droplets of poison that people will insist on eating with their turkey, I love mince pies. Now when I say I love mince pies, I mean I would happily eat them every day for the rest of my natural life. By the middle of September, I’m scouring the supermarket shelves for them, and do so until they dissappear mid January. In fact, I school myself to just buying a dozen a week, but I could easily double that quota and still look round for more once I’d finished. I do understand that not everyone likes mince pies. They’re the same as the weirdos who drool over sprouts. Even thinking about the evil green devil spawn is making feel nauseous. Right, enough of Christmas. I miss Bob’s bar though. Just as I liked its predecessor, Clink, It was just the right distance from the ground. I know I used to just hole up in the Anchor when it was good, and that was a lot further still, but that was worth the walk. I suppose I’ve just got into the habit of ale trailing before a home game now. It’s just the combination that alters. With the Anchor, everything was perfect. (It wasn’t, but to us it was.)

So the Blues had been busy while the World Cup was being played, and they’d been getting on with the remedial work that needed doing to the lower tiers of the Kop and the Tilton. I was right about the advertising tarpaulin that was now covering the bomb site, so there wasn’t any point of taking a photo of it all, but you could at least see that there had been genuine progress made. Remembering seeing plenty of grounds round the country where they’d had derelict stands and for several seasons. Wolves being a prime example before Sir Jack Haywood transformed the club and ground, I don’t actually expect to see the work at St Andrews completed during the close season. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this went on until the club properly changes hands, and that could be a long time in the future. I know it’s the cynic in me, and I also know I’m not the only one who thinks this way, but I just feel that everything that happens positive at Blues is just an exercise in crack papering. That it’s just a matter of time before the paint starts peeling and it’s tatty again.

“Like this, for instance.”

Looks great brand new, but like everything else, it won’t be looked after. I missed Jude Bellingham doing a lap of honor before the game, but at least I didn’t miss Deeney’s ridiculously early opener. I’ve started to notice that Blues start on the front foot. It’s a tactic to hit a side quickly and clinically as soon after the kickoff as possible while the opposition are still waking up. Sometimes it works perfectly, like it did against Reading. It means a team has to regroup and come at Blues, thus playing into our hands. We soak up the resulting pressure, before hitting the opposition decisively on the break. Something we did for the second goal, a penalty scored by Deeney who was playing in his 600th first class game, after he himself had been upended. 2:0 up, it’s all about picking off a shell shocked side, and before the break, Tahith Chong added a third after a mistake in the Reading defence allowed him to capitalise. 3:0 at halftime and we had ideas of a 5,6 and maybe 7 goal win. Ok, maybe not 7, but you catch my drift with how well the first half had gone. Back to Jude Bellingham, although it probably would’ve been a bit sugary, cringe worthy like, I would’ve liked to have seen him walk round the pitch. In his own words, because of the Covid Lockdown, he hadn’t been able to say goodbye properly, after his last game for us before jetting off to Germany to join Dortmond, and he’d wanted to show his appreciation for our support. In that sense, I would’ve liked to have shown my appreciation of what is one special talent. I’ve already been gushing enough about the kid. A kid that has matured at a lightning speed into a man of grace and humility. He never fails to praise Blues, and the fondness he has for the club still, is that of a fan. He’s even stated that he’d love to return to the club towards the end of his career. If I had a magic wand with instructions on how to use it correctly, I’d be waving it around my head like a conductor’s batton, with the result being, extremely rich owners with the vision to break us into Europe on a annual basis, a bulging trophy cabinet, and the money to not only bring Jude back at the height of his career, but to be able to build a team around him that plays the kind of attractive football that has the world looking on with admiration and jealousy. If you’re looking at your device and thinking something on the lines of “In your dreams Sid.”, then just look at Manchester City. This is Blues though, and the silly schoolboy daydreams I have always held for the club, are just that. Reality is the polar opposite of those daydreams. Even though we joked that we were appalled at what had happened in the first half, memories of incomprehensible defeats to both Fulham and Swindon from what appeared to be unassailable leads, are still raw decades later. Those ‘You had to be there’ moments are forever haunting. No doubt if I was to ever see Birmingham City lift the Champions League for the third time in a row, I would still think of that Easter Monday game when Swindon’s then player-manager, Glenn Hoddle, brought himself on as substitute early in the second half, and turned a 4:1 deficit into a 4:6 win. It was though, 3:0 to Blues going into the second half, and under John Eustace, we do look a lot more resilient. In fact, early in that second half we missed a chance that was just begging to be finished off. We then conspired to sit back in our deckchairs and watch the sea. Drifting off to sleep, Eustace brought on Jobe for his elder brother’s amusement, before Reading started clawing their way back into the game. It may not have arrived until the 82nd minute, but it should’ve been the water over the feet moment that woke us up from the slumber of our deckchairs. Reading had got the momentum now, and could see an inexplicable point on the horizon. Added time brought another Reading goal. That halftime arrogance was in pieces, replaced by nervous glances at the time. With much relief, the ref blew the final whistle. I only know, because I heard the cheer from the Blues fans still in the ground that accompanied it. After the second Reading goal, there was only ever going to be one more goal, and it wasn’t going to come from us. I really didn’t want to see an equaliser from being 3:0 up.

Here we were, exactly half way through the league season. Won 8, drawn 8, lost 7. Scored 26, conceded 22. We’re sitting 9th in the table, only 2 points off the last Playoff position. That’s a handy place to be. We’re hurtling towards January and the transfer window. A fast paced striker would be a great addition. Although Probably a youngster on loan from the Premier League, it’s not beyond realms of possibilities. This is Blues though, and it’s why I note that although 32 points is a great haul so far, it’s still 18 points off the magic 50 and safety. We’re currently 8 points off 3rd from bottom. That sounds a good cushion to have, but there’s 23 games left, and we don’t know if we’re going to hold on to any of our prized assets. It’s not inconceivable that we could lose all the kids that are showing any kind of potential and have all the loans recalled. What then? Free falling is unstoppable. What we have are butterfly wings. Impressively attractive, but extremely fragile. I myself, won’t be sorry once the window shuts again, and we know exactly what we have to work with. Only then will we have a fair idea of how the season will pan out. 18 points from 23 games should be easy right? It’s less than a point a game for a start, but Huddersfield have only managed 19 points from 22 games so far, so it’s obviously not that easy. Huddersfield Town, a club that’s been in the Premier League since we have. That 18 points doesn’t look quite as easy now, does it? Time will tell, and there’s no point fretting about it. Que sera sera. Having not had a great deal of sleep due to my night shift, I headed home knowing I’d got a ground hop the next day.

Footnote:- After finding out that the ground of choice, Coleshill, had a 3G pitch, I thought the game would be safe from postponement. No such luck. Frozen pipes to the changing rooms, meant it fell foul of league regulations, and the game was called off. I will just have to go there another day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s