Hope. The Story Waiting To Be Written

2 May 2024 | 0 comments

In Off The Post
In Off The Post

The following article has been written by one of our Trust members.  They are the opinions of that person and not necessarily those of Blues Trust.  Would you like to contribute a discussion point of your own about Birmingham City Football Club?  If so, we would be delighted to hear from you.

If, like me, you fear the Blues’ goose is finally cooked this season it doesn’t mean we should give up hope. And the omens are really interesting.

Almost exactly 10 years ago, on May 3, 2014, Lee Clarke’s Birmingham travelled to Bolton Wanderers, needing to better Doncaster’s result on the final day to survive another year in the Championship.

It was a year in which our players were less than the sum of their parts. We’d only won three times away but with none of the managerial shenanigans we’ve seen this season. What, on paper, should have been a side easily capable of staying up entered the last chance saloon after slipping into the relegation places the week before. We were struggling to score enough goals and having trouble stopping them.

It’s a somewhat familiar set-up isn’t it? However, if you like omens and look for patterns, you might find a bit of hope in this piece. Our main rival that day was Doncaster Rovers, whose final game was away at already champions…Leicester City. The Foxes would hit the 100-point mark with a win or a draw.

The fear among Blues fans was they would have downed tools because they had already done their work for the season and Donny, fighting for survival, would turn them over. A win would have guaranteed their survival.

In an interesting twist of fate another Rovers, Blackburn, make their trip to this season’s champions, yes Leicester City, needing a point to be safe. Leicester will reach 100 points if they win.

The team immediately above us this time, Plymouth Argyle, are a point above us as Doncaster were back in 2014 but the Pilgrims have a superior goal difference to us, unlike the Vikings who had shipped plenty in their defeats. Our goal difference going into the final match back in 2014 was minus 16. Our goal difference this year going into the last game? Minus 16.

The match started well for us at the Reebok. We were on the front foot but couldn’t put the ball away, apart from a disallowed goal after Zigic was adjudged to have been climbing over the full-back. After the break Bolton scored against the run of play, when an unlucky ricochet bounced to Lee Chung-yong on 57 minutes and he rifled home. Blues were stunned but on 75 minutes there was renewed hope among the 4,000 travelling supporters, with the news David Nugent had scored from the spot to put Leicester one-up.

Almost immediately, an absolute ricket by Blues’ goalkeeper Darren Randolph at his near post let a tame shot into the net. The scorer? One Lukas Jutkiewicz, the Juke himself.

Throwing caution to the wind, we attacked the Bolton goal and two minutes later Zigic rose and headed into the far corner to reduce the deficit. Meanwhile, Leicester hung on to their lead.

We attacked, Lee Clarke throwing four up front for the final minutes and we drifted into six minutes of added time. Jordan Ibe jinked into the box, the ball popped up, Zigic headed towards goal but it was cleared off the line and into the air.

In a scene which will be etched into the psyche of every true Blues fan, time stood still as Paul Caddis, the most unlikely of heroes, rose, stretched his neck muscles almost behind him and got enough purchase on the ball to head home.

Delirium. Tears. Relief. The match had finished at Leicester. Doncaster had lost. Another five minutes went by and Bolton had two good chances, one for Juke and another for ex-Blue Neil Danns, but we held on. Cue a celebration which will live long in the memory. Lee Clarke’s dive into the crowd, grown men crying in the stands and Keep Right On echoing around the Reebok.

On that day, 10 years ago, we needed to better the result of one team. This time, if we win, we have three chances to stay up, depending on our rivals’ results. By the way, Sheffield Wednesday finished the season in 2014 with 53 points, the same total they’ll achieve this season with a win at Sunderland.

If you really like your omens, if you like to look for those connections which write their own headlines, how about this for a perfect end to a miserable campaign? Jamie Vardy scores a 75th-minute penalty for Leicester. Blues are huffing and puffing in front of a boisterous crowd at St Andrew’s but struggling to make the breakthrough. Leicester are hanging on for the win against our former manager but we’re running out of ideas.

On comes one Lukas Jutkiewicz, playing the final match of his contract, as a last throw of the dice. It’s injury time, the ball pops up in the air inside the box and Juke launches himself at it, six yards out…

He couldn’t, could he? Tell me of a better story waiting to be written. Wouldn’t that be just a typically Blues way to get to the end of that road?

KRO and let’s raise the roof on Saturday.

Jez Hemming

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