23. Aug, 2021


Thanks to my wonderful Nan and Dad I had broken my duck. I had been to my first football match and even brought the replica kit.

In the next few years I went to the odd game but they always seemed notable for some reason. In September 1982 I watched as Luton Town beat us 3-2 at St Andrews. The Bedfordshire club were newly promoted and finding their feet in the top flight. The Hatters did indeed preserve their First Division status thanks to a 1-0 victory at Manchester City on the final day of the season. A result which consigned City to the Second Division. The highlights featured on Match Of The Day. Viewers will remember Luton Manager David Pleat's celebration jig as the final whistle blows. If you look closely the Hatters boss still wants to look presentable. He remembers to button up his jacket as he skips across the Maine Road pitch.

But City, of the Manchester ilk may well curse their Brummie counterparts. Because Birmingham City gave Peat's men a helping hand on that Autumn afternoon. Blues Goalkeeper Jim Blyth shanked his goal kick, the mistimed clearance fell straight into the path of Brian Stein, who duly put Luton 1-0 ahead. Without Blyth's horrendous error Birmingham City would have gained a point and Manchester City would have stayed in the First Division.

In fairness the Hatters deserved a stay of execution. They went on to become an excellent side. Jet Healed striker Stein formed excellent partnerships with firstly Paul Walsh and then Mick Harford. Classy midfielder Ricky Hill and winger David Moss also made fine contributions to the Kenilworth Road cause. In 1988 they won the League Cup and were twice unluckily denied an appearance in an FA Cup Final.

My next trip to St Andrews proved far more enjoyable. We beat Aston Villa 3-0 on Boxing Day 1982 courtesy of goals from Noel Blake, Ian Handysides and Mick Ferguson. The Derby drubbing was a personal triumph for Blues boss Ron Saunders. The dour Merseysider replaced Jim Smith in 1982. Saunders shocked British football when he quit as manager Of League Champions Aston Villa to cross the Second City divide. Lord knows what crossed Saunders mind when Villa won the European Cup three months later. Meanwhile Saunders new charges continued to flirt with the relegation zone. However, the form book was torn up much to the delight of the St Andrews faithful. The attendance that day was a bumper 43,864.

Normal service was resumed in September 1983 when I witnessed Tottenham Hotspur's 1-0 victory. Spurs were a fantastic side having won the FA Cup in 1981 and 1982, so Steve Archibald's winner was hardly front page news. To be honest I was just glad to escape St Andrews in one piece. Dad and I had only just taken our seats when a riot broke out, Brummies and North Londoners began exchanging blows and a swift exit seemed the only option. With the aid of a walking frame I had manage to transfer from the disabled enclosure to another part of the ground. That will teach me for been independent!

After flirting with trouble we decided to give 1984 a miss. Many thousands decided to extend their exile into 1985. Because in October of that year I was one of the 9,267 who saw Coventry City's 1-0 win. It was a year blighted by football hooliganism. The disasters at Heysel and Bradford City saw a combined total of 95 fans lose their lives. There were also ugly scenes at Luton Town and yes Birmingham City. Sadly one young fan was killed when visiting Leeds United fans demolished a St Andrews wall

Happily the Sky Blues visit was trouble free, this time the Blues groundsman blotted his copybook. Midway through the first half play was halted when a rogue sprinkler decided to deposit some H20 on the hallowed turf. Unfortunately this did not deter Terry Gibson, who shortly afterwards scored the only goal of the game

The annual struggle against relegation to the Second Division were joyful compared to the late 1980's. In 1989 the footballers of Birmingham City were plying their dubious skills in the Third Division of English football. And yes this was the THIRD tier, no rose tinted rebranding here. Yet, perversely I was going to almost every home game. My foolhardy attitude had spread to my older Sister. Sarah now also witnessed the carnage on a fortnightly basis. One afternoon we were watching a titanic struggle with Cambridge or maybe Shrewsbury, or then it could have been Chester. Anyway at half time a figure joined the Coulter clan.

Was the interloper seeking our views on Trevor Aylott's horrendous 33rd minute miss? Sorry Trev, the stranger was more interested in my Sis then your struggles in front of goal. He was certainly a quick worker because he soon acquired Sarah's phone number. Even more impressively he phoned her that evening. Alas, the tale did not have a fairytale ending. My Sister got cold feet and let Mum deliver that bad news.