During the week, Chris had called up and asked if I was going to go to the beam back at St Andrews. I honestly hadn’t given it any thought and I was half hoping that SKY would televise it. Needless to say they had gone for Brentford v Blackburn and Forest v Ipswich. Chris said that he’d come across the beam back possibility by chance whilst looking on the web site to see if the game was televised and that the tickets went on sale at 09.30 the following morning. I was duly sitting at my desktop at the appointed hour and after twenty minutes when I’d all but given up hope, I appeared to have gotten to the front of the electronic queue and bought three places for Chris, little Jack and me. We wouldn’t know where we were going to be in the various hospitality areas until later. It also allowed for free entry to the Blues Ladies game at 2 pm; which was the reason the screening couldn’t be out on the pitch like last time.
Sunday arrived and I hasten to add no formal tickets had arrived, so I could only assume that these would be collected at the ground. I tried ringing the ticket office three times on Saturday but got timed out on all three occasions despite getting to the front of the queue each time which was frustrating but I would just have to sort it out at St Andrews armed with my reference number as there was no facility to print the tickets on this occasion. Looking up train times, I discovered that there was a bus service because of engineering work between Blackwater and Reading all day so I asked Mrs Bazza for a lift directly to Reading to save time. As fate would have it a bus was already at the station as we were about to pass by so I jumped on it to save she whom I adore the bother of driving all the way to Reading and back. Coach to Reading was a novelty and all appeared to be going to plan until we lost vital minutes at Wokingham and I went from being in plenty of time to catch my train to New Street to missing it by a matter of a couple of minutes. The next one was an hour’s wait!
There was nothing to be done but to accept the situation for what it was. I rang Chris to tell him and although it was going to be tight we should still be about right for kick off. I was still feeling vexed however and decided to kill time by getting a coffee. Al Murray, the pub landlord has a theory that there must be a God because of bacon; yes bacon! He maintains that bacon knows why it was put here on this earth to resurrect hung over life forms wherever they may be. Bacon sandwiches, as well as bringing hung over beings back from the dead, also have restorative powers when it comes to p**sed off Bluenoses who have just missed their train! Now I am a bit of a connoisseur when it come to a bacon sarnie especially if it has an egg with it! The bread has to be soft and very white. The sauce has to be HP and very brown. Whaddya mean tomato ketchup? What is wrong with you? Yow’ve got that namby-pampy, nappy-wetting, turquoise blue and baby pink Viler look about ya! Enough said, I was feeling much better after my bacon bap with egg and appropriate sauce washed down with a hot cup of coffee.
The time passed as it always does and soon I was on the 10.11. Chris and little Jack joined me at Coventry and we then got a taxi to the ground arriving just around kick off time.
We went to the ticket office which was completely closed up (it was 12.01) but fortunately we met a steward who appeared to know what she was doing and she hailed one of the blokes behind the shutters who was undoubtedly settling down to watch the game himself. He gave us our long awaited tickets and we discovered that we were in The Happy Abode which was no more than than a few yards away and we were soon in the bar, a pint in hand, watching the game.
It was nervy to say the least although Blues took control early on. What didn’t improve the mood was Blackburn’s early strike to take the lead against Brentford and then they added to it it not long after. Forest were faring 0-0 against Ipswich who by all accounts were all over the Tricky Trees so hope sprung eternal. Forest were to go on to win 3-0 and Blackburn 3-1 so as many of us thought it was a case of take care of business and win the game in front of us. On 16 minutes a ball played through to Che Adams inside the area left the young striker with a bit to do but didn’t he do it well? He turned his defender and coolly slotted past the Bristol keeper to send our fans inside the venue into raptures. There was still a long way to go however and both sides had positions and opportunities to score, especially in the first half, but fortunately for us (***Editor comment…though not for our nerves – Russ***) it remained 1-0.
I cannot pretend that I had a handle on the game as I usually do and after the sixth pint, I didn’t care but what I do know is that Bristol didn’t deserve to equalise and the last six minutes of time added on (I honestly don’t know where Lee Mason found that from!) was the longest of my life, even longer than the time added on against Arsenal in the final of 2011.
The final whistle was greeted by a roar equalled only by that day as we had stayed up by the skin of our teeth having never should’ve been in the position in the first place. This season has been a shocker but fortunately not catastrophic. Whilst serious soul searching has to go on we have to take this reprieve to not navel gaze and move on.
Harry Redknapp you are already a legend, lead us on to better things. As you have already said, we are a proper football club with proper fans who deserve better than that which has been dished up this season. Let’s make this lucky escape count. After consuming the beer in front of us we walked up to the Crown (Birmingham’s oldest pub) and grabbed some belly pork and some more beer.
I am not going to score the players’ performances for two reasons; firstly the television coverage did not lend itself to such analysis and frankly I was too inebriated! We stayed up and that is all that mattered! In the Happy Abode, we met Fergulblue and Danny. On the way from the ground we made the acquaintance of Chris, Lynn, Jack and Sam and when we reached the Crown we talked to several Brighton fans (they couldn’t understand how they had allowed that load of tripe to score against them to deny them the title either!) Chris Turner and his son Chris were bluenoses in the Crown and I wish a special mention to them.
It could have been worse but thank the Lord that season’s over and done with!
The Good: Clearly, digging ourselves out of the massive, self-inflicted hole that we had got ourselves into. The day in the Happy Abode; absolutely brilliant, so glad we did it. Also the fact that Blues didn’t try and ram the venues with fans. It was comfortable throughout and we could have a nice, quiet pint without feeling overcrowded.
The Bad: Spare a thought for Blackburn.
The Ugly: The six minutes added on; where did that come from? Our prospects if Bristol had scored!
Bristol City: Fabian Giefer, Joe Bryan, Bailey Wright, Aden Flint, Mark Little (Lee Tomlin 59) Jamie Paterson (Callum O’Dowda 76) Marlon Pack, Korey Smith, Josh Brownhill, Matty Taylor (Milan Djuric 60) Tammy Abraham.
Subs not used: Jens Hegeler, Lloyd Kelly, Max O’Leary, Bobby Reid.
Yellow cards: Bryan 63.
Birmingham City: Tomasz Kusczcak Emilio Nsue. Ryan Shotton, Michael Morrison, Jonathan Grounds, Mikael Kieftenbeld, Craig Gardner, David Davis, Jacques Maghoma (Clayton Donaldson 73) Lukas Jutkiewicz (Krystian Bielik 68) Che Adams (Stephen Gleeson 83).
Subs not used: Kerim Frei, Greg Stewart, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Adam Legzdins.
Goals: Adams 16 min.
Yellow cards: Gardner 35, Maghoma 54, Grounds 55, Adams56, Kusczcak 90+4, Nsue 90+ 5, Gleeson 90 + 6.
Referee: Lee Mason: Nothing contentious to report. Frankly, I don’t care!