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A preview by Billy The Dog McGraw
Birmingham is a diminutive village famed for being the lowest settlement in the United Kingdom at 170 feet below sea level.
The location, home to elves, dwarves and other such creatures, was discovered by chance in 1874 when the footballing pioneer Muntz Street was out walking his cat which suddenly disappeared down an aluminium mine, causing a landslip that revealed all.
As a result of Mr Street’s activity the first sports club in the subterranean location was set up with Small Heath Alliance formed in 1875 as a water polo club playing on the village’s one hill, which rises to 1 foot above sea level. The club turned to billiards in 1885 and in 1888 branched out into sidewinding, basket weaving and rotational crab baiting a year later.
They next played dominance headbutting (an early version of rotational fouling that they now play) in the Football Alliance and then tried to change their name to Birmingham, but everyone laughed. Next they opened a 75,000 capacity ground in 1906, and soon found themselves applying for re-election to the league having come lower than a turnip on heat. (If you get my drift).
After the first world war they decided to move from slug heating to train spotting and eventually employed Leslie Knighton as a manager in order to reach a cup final and enjoyed themselves bouncing up and down between one division and another.
Now pause: does that name (Leslie Knighton) mean nothing to you? Really?
Knighton was our manager under Norris in the post war years, and Norris dismissed Knighton in the summer of 1925 and replaced him with…
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Well, come on guys, you know.
Anyway back in the midlands the world changed when Robert Johnson arrived on the scene. Uttering those extraordinary lines “I’ve gotta keep movin’ blues falling down like hail” Robert set about removing everything that had gone before and creating THE BLUES.
With the hellhound and his all sweeping broom Robert created a new world. In 1939 they got 66,000 in their stadium – a record, were relegated, had the ground razed to the, err, ground, by Nazis and had all their records destroyed in a fire as a result of an air raid. Robert Johnson commemorated the event with a unique song
F I send for my baby, and she don’t come
‘F I send for my baby, man, and she don’t come
All the doctors in Hot Springs sure can’t help her none
And if she gets unruly, thinks she don’t wan’ do
And if she gets unruly and thinks she don’t wan’ do
Take my 32-20, now, and cut her half in two
But, one might ask, how do we know any of the above if all the records were lost in the second world war? Actually we don’t – it is all made up. In fact many people don’t believe Birmingham City FC exists at all. For all we know rotational timewasting could have been invented by a bunch of monks who argued with King Alfred the Great during his battle against the Danes in 897AD, and set up knee-wallap as a game to entertain the pagans and convert them to Christianity. What we do know is that the club changed its name during the war when no one was looking. In 1955 they defeated Liverpool 9-1 which is worthy of note and the following year they came sixth in the first division – something never achieved before or since and which gave the players nose bleeds.
What we do know is that Birmingham played in Europe before anyone else – which meant the game was rather one sided, but they still managed to lose.
When the Bank of Credit and Commerce International collapsed the club went into receivership (1992) and were bought by David Sullivan who brought in Karen Brady (then aged 23) as MD. In the coming years they had Barry Fry as manager, (a close mate of Billy the Dog – “you and me” Barry would say, “we’re one of a kind”). Birmingham went into the third division. They tried local hero Trev Francis (who was later done for assault by one of his own players) as a manager and won the Auto Windscreen free replacement if a stone hits your car trophy. As a result around the ground today you will find many young urchins shouting “Make sure your car doesn’t get its window done Mister – just £10” outside the ground as you park. Best not to try and go to the ground by car.
With Steve Bruce as manager they turned to Arsenal for support and brought in Nicklas Bendtner, Fabrice Muamba and Sebastian Larsson – before Carson Yeung bought 29.9% of shares in the club, making him the biggest single shareholder, with a view to taking full control in the future – although this has not happened and the rest of the ownership of the club is still a matter for some debate. Fit and proper Mr Anonymous. Where have we seen that before?
Stevie Bruce resigned in November 2007 to move up to the more exciting challenge of managing Wigan, while the old owners and the new owners all sued each other (as you do). West Ham, Birmingham, what’s the odds? Both have been owned by pornographers.
Alex McLeish stepped into the mire and Birmingham finished 19th in the end of the season, ultimately being relegated. David Sullivan blamed it on Bruce’s silly buys in the transfer market and attacked his club’s own players as a waste of money – an interesting motivational tactic and one that raises the issue of just how much responsibility Sullivan will ever take for anything he ever does. Answer: something less that the height of Birmingham above sea level.
The Birmingham side for today’s game with the refurbished Birmingham ground in the background. Robert Johnson is in the fourth row and is expected to play today.
And the Arsenal…
Sagna Koscielny Djourou Clichy
Walcott Bendtner Nasri
Sitting around in large duvets: Szczesny, Van Persie, Vela, Eboué, Squillaci, Rosicky, Chamakh, Arshavin, Emmanuel-Thomas, Denílson
I think at the moment the team for each game is selected not just from who is playing best but also in terms of the opposition, and the next match (which for us is Man City on Wednesday).
My guess is Van P and Chamakh are being kept all nice and fresh for that game as is Arshavin. But then what do I know? (Answer that and I’ll do yer face in).
28 goals in their last 28 home league games has a certain symmetry, but probably explains why tickets are still available. Also one win in the last six. Leading scorer is Gardner with, oh, how many, I keep losing count, what was it? Four.
Billy the dog is helping the authorities with their enquiries.
Phil Gregory has a headache.
Referees: conspiracy theory or practice – Part 2 of the special investigation.