Born Blue Nosed – By Kym Smith

Posted on March 2, 2007 
Filed Under Articles By Kym

I spend (probably) far too much of my free time loitering about on Blues fansites. Like most people I have my favourite ports of call and it seems that no matter where you go, football-related or not, chat threads can degenerate to handbags or even extensive mudslinging, which can make for hilarious reading.

However, forum threads are often a good source of inspiration for articles, and today I’d like to thank Bluedude and Dublin Brummie from SHA for starting a couple of discussions relating to the business of being a football fan, or more precisely being a Blues supporter.

For some people the team they follow truly is in the blood. Rather like being born a Catholic, they were born into Blues families and were taken to games as small children where the die was forever cast. Once a Bluenose, always a Bluenose.

Others lived near the ground and went along with friends from an early age, particularly in the days when “little ‘uns” were lifted over the turnstile or allowed to sneak in when the chap on the gate obligingly let them in about 15 minutes into the game. One or two even started their career as Blues fans by car minding and using their “wages” to pay for their tickets.

Some of the locals knew the illicit ways into the ground and would sneak in away from the watchful eyes of the stewards to blend in with the rest of the crowd on the terrace (the wall on the Kop side seemed to be a popular place).

But we weren’t all born blue nosed. I certainly wasn’t; I come from a family that had no interest in football at all. A lot of my family originally came from Aston and had fate not decreed it otherwise, I could have been a Villa supporter.

I “chose” Birmingham City when I was about ten years old. I wasn’t one of those nice little girls that liked playing with dolls; Meccano and collecting football cards was much more interesting and that inevitably led on to wanting to be a fan of one particular team.

Even then, the lure of the first division clubs was great and there were kids in my class who professed to be Man Utd or Leeds supporters, but as I went to school in Lee Bank there wasn’t a particular bias towards any one team. But Birmingham had the name of the city, MY city and that was what did it for me – and royal blue and white somehow seemed more appealing than claret and blue.

That set me on the road to ruin and I’ve never looked back. And I’m not the only one either…

It seems that quite a few people actively chose Blues.

Some shopped around and went to games at Villa Park and the Hawthorns, either with family or friends before making St Andrew’s their spiritual home – even in the days when our other local teams were winning silverware and we could offer nothing like that.

It seems that what we could do was offer far more in the way of spirit and atmosphere – and perhaps a salutary lesson or two in learning how to laugh at ourselves, part of that self-deprecating Brummie spirit that we’re all so famous for.

Taking this point further, some simply say that the craic was better at Blues, even though we were the Cinderella team that never got to the ball at Wembley, and in the days of the Kumars were just clinging on to survival.

Childhood rebellion might also account for a few fans as quite a few people seemed to come from families who supported other teams, notably Villa. I won’t make any allusions to the conversion of St Paul on the road to Damascus in case a big foot comes through the ceiling and squashes me in a Money Python stylee…

Occasionally people were lured in by certain players. Trevor Francis bursting on to the football scene in the early 70s was the reason for the appearance of many young fans as he was the sort of player we’d never seen the like of before. At the time he was a sensation almost in the vein of Michael Owen’s early career. More recently the arrival of Mikael Forssell bought us to the attention of a select band of Finnish fans who now follow Blues avidly.

Going to a “Blues” school was an important factor for some people as you would fall in with mates’ preferences, particularly if they were hardened fans. As I went to a secondary school that was predominantly Villa, maybe it was just sheer bloodymindedness that banded me together with the few others who preferred all things Blue.

For a few, the choice of Birmingham City came even later in life – when it could be argued that they really were old enough to know better.

It was also interesting to learn that some people had taken the “convert” experience even further and either inveigled their entire families into becoming fans, or had started off in life supporting another football team, whether it was through family allegiances or just through personal choice.

Those who began their life as a football fan supporting the likes of Man Utd discovered that winning trophies was small fry compared to discovering the true soul-searing agony of supporting Birmingham City and quickly cast their former allegiances aside.

There are also a lot of people out there who, although being Blues supporters through and through, still keep an eye out for the results of a few other teams. Sometimes this is a result of family members coming from other parts of the country and you encounter the “my granddad came from Huddersfield; the father-in-law had a trial for Brentford” scenarios, which leads to a certain fondness for teams that would otherwise be off the radar.

Quite a few people will adopt a second team, either near to where they live or where they went to college, particularly if they’re a long way from Birmingham these days. Adopting a lower league team as a second team can be quite an entertaining experience, as I know from the tales of a bunch of Halesowen Town supporters.

There are all sorts of ways to develop an affinity with other teams, whether through family, friends or workmates and from there, you inevitably find yourself keeping an eye on their results in whatever league they’re in.

I went to the Conference playoffs last season to occupy an afternoon and watched Hereford United get promoted to the league. I watch out for their results now and I’m pleased to say they’re doing quite well in League Two this season.

I also follow Gretna’s fortunes; a lifetime of being a Bluenose has instilled in me a fervent love of the underdog and it will be something of a revelation to the SPL next season if they’re successful in their promotion bid.

My “second team” when I was a kid was Liverpool, although I suspect this had something to do with Kevin Keegan, shallow creature that I am! These days the Premiership team I like to watch are Arsenal, but this is more to do with their style of football under Wenger than the state of the bodies on the pitch (as it were).

Others have all sorts of different reasons for having a fondness for other clubs; nobody’s wrong or right and some can’t envisage having any sort of interest in any club other than their own.

These days, I’m a fan of Midlands football in general and would love to see three teams from this part of the country get back into the Premiership and try to break the stranglehold that London and the North have over it. As long as we’re one of the three, of course…

Comments

6 Responses to “Born Blue Nosed – By Kym Smith”

  1. Bazzathebluenose on March 2nd, 2007 2:38 pm

    I, like you, Kym supported the lads as the team bears the City’s name. As a little boy, it just seemed right to barrack for Birmingham City Football Club as Birmingham was where I was born and bred. My Dad and Grandad were disillusioned Blues fans and told me frequently that we had never won anything and never would!! They will break your heart they said and they have repeatedly over the last 45 years but I would never support anyone else. My sons have followed in my footsteps and are avid fans despite the fact that we don’t live near Birmingham. My heart, soul and blood run blue and I can’t help it so there it is; I’ve said it – I love the club and always will. I hope nevertheless that when I finally go to meet my maker that I can tell Dad and Grandad that they were wrong and we did win a major trophy. They would be delighted to be wrong. Let’s keep believing eh? Right now I’ll settle for the Championship title.

    KRO SOTV

  2. Scampicat on March 2nd, 2007 2:50 pm

    I was born in Sparkhill in the 50’s. My father was an avid Blues fan, and started taking me down from the age of 7. I only really started to identify with the team in the Barry Bridges,Bert Murray days, and on very old TV footage can be spotted jumping up and down in the Holte End when we beat Villa 4-2! (Had moved to Marston Green by then, and was taken down by a load of Villa mates).
    During the Trevor Francis days, 5 of us followed them home and away. We always looked liked scoring – but so did the other team! I always enjoyed the dark humour and have always identified with the underdog.
    I moved South 22 years ago, and now live in a very nice Berkshire village. I have managed to instil considerable interest in the Blues, and can at least claim some converts in the “second” team department.
    Many ask me why I don’t convert to Reading who are close and doing well. Unthinkable. Definately agree – once a Bluenose always a Bluenose!

  3. fingles on March 2nd, 2007 9:26 pm

    Like Scampicat I chose Blues.
    I was born in Tyseley, and went to school in Solihull.

    I have supported them for 50 years, and love the club.
    As I live in Wiltshire, it is a connection with the city of my birth.

    LOVE IT!!!!!

  4. Marc J on March 2nd, 2007 11:03 pm

    Great post Kym.

    As a Droitwich lad from a non-footballing family you had a choice -one of the big national teams or something more local. I could never see the point in supporting a team from another part of the country altogether, and after a few years going to Bromsgrove Rovers as a nipper I did end up going to Birmingham to catch the biggish-time. I did actually go to the Hawthorns and Villa Park (ahem) as well as Stans at first, but quickly settled on Blues: the fans were much more fun, the atmosphere was great… and there was Francis, Latchford and Hatton. I suppose a preference for the underdog had something to do with it as well.

    Have never looked back since. There are half a dozen Blues fans here in The Hague who get together to watch the televised matches and go to England as often as we can to cheer the lads on. Though most of us are from the West Midlands, we also have a bloke from Cumbria. I keep asking him how he came to be a Bluenose, but by the end of the evening I can never remember what he said ;-)

  5. Dave C on March 2nd, 2007 11:18 pm

    Great blog that has evoked many differing memories.

    I was first taken down in 65ish by Dad and Grandad ( by then Dad and his siblings had moved nan and Grandad from Bordesley Green east to Francis Road Yardley), Cardiff the old Div 2, a Cardiff fan plonked me on his shoulders while Dad rolled the tabs for him and his old fella.

    Garrilous, self deprecating humour was what we were about up until recently, we have changed as a community and I dont know why, but things aren’t the same, or am I getting older ?

    I was at an IT conference/think tank at the House of Lords last October and a guy confirmed I was from Brum and low and behold so was he and a mad Noser to boot, so there we were at a champagne reception overlooking the Thames hosted by a Lord discussing with a passion why we love BCFC, how bizarre, yet how typical.

  6. Luin on March 3rd, 2007 6:59 pm

    *Yawn*. Has this not been done to death?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Explanation!

You have arrived at the archive site of the Birmingham City blog Joys & Sorrows. If you were looking for fresh, meaty stuff then this way, please.

This section of the site covers the blog portion of J&S from 26th April 2006 - when the site returned after a catastrophic hosting failure causing the loss of over 500 articles - to 28th April 2008 - when I decided to have a prolonged rest from the site.

Here, if it so takes your fancy, you can find every single article, totalling over 1,000, written by myself and many others over that two year period.

Unfortunately, the formatting on some of the posts is a little rough but since this is an archive, it doesn't matter too much. Nothing is unreadable although a great deal of the links will now, sadly, be broken. So internal Joys & Sorrows links will lead you to 404 errors.

I decided to archive them in this way because I wanted to start something fresh for the main part of the site. Hopefully you'll be able to see that up on the main portion of the site now.

Commenting for the archive section has obviously been switched off. You can flick around the archives by using the 'Find It' function in the middle column or the respective 'Categories' or 'Archives' headings in the sidebars

- Aff, 03/08/08.