Saturday, 17 March 2012

Birmingham City 3 v Middlesbrough 0 - npower Championship

George Stephenson and a toy train

Early to rise, our dishevelled ensemble met up at Chez Vegas train station at silly o'clock to board a train to the City of Birmingham, on the pre match ale trail.
There were a few Sheffield Wednesday fans milling around in Chesterfield, who were heading over to Notts County.
It is well known that the Owls are the second best supported team in the town, but they are some way behind their city neighbours Sheffield United, AKA the Blades, numerically on that score.
Another cast iron fact appertaining to this locality is, the best team in the district of Chesterfield itself is Staveley Miners Welfare of the Baris Northern Counties East League.
But apart from Matlock Town, who play in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, some 10 miles away from the land of the Crooked Spire, I'm not aware of any other teams in the area worth mentioning, because that particular town centre is not a location I visit that often, out of personal choice.
It is said, that the Crooked Spire, that sits on top of the Parish Church of St. Mary and All Saints in Chesterfield and is clearly visible from the train station, will untwist and straighten up if a groom ever weds there who doesn't have previous carnal knowledge of one or more sheep.
The spire has been that way since the 14th century and obviously Chesterfield hasn't produced a man who fits that criteria yet.
Today's match tickets were dead cheap, because we'd managed to acquire tokens that a national tabloid newspaper printed in conjunction with a ticket offer.
I hasten to add, none of us present actually purchased a single copy of the red top publication in question.
Nor would we even use it to wipe our backsides on.
And it's not getting a free plug here either, even though we've also got cheap tickets for Coventry City v Portsmouth next week, via the same promotion.Via an eventful journey on an overcrowded train, which I'm keeping schtum about because telling tales and grassing people up isn't the way I operate, we walked the short distance from Birmingham New Street to 'The Wellington' and made it our base camp for a few hours.
For the Record - Moorhouse's Pendle Porter, 5% abv, 10 out of 10 & Oakham Ales Citra 4.2% abv, 9 out of 10.
We spent much longer there than we had intended, so it was decided that the next leg of the journey would be by taxi to the Cricketers ...
... which is very close to the football ground and just up the road from a very misleading road sign ...For the record - Tetley's in a plastic pint pot, 3 out of 10 (a very generous rating, I'm in a good mood), we definitely should've stayed where we were for a while longer.
Saturday 17th March 2012, at St. Andrews Stadium
npower Championship
Birmingham City (1) 3
Nikola Zigic 11, Marlon King 57, Keith Fahey 60
Middlesbrough (0) 0
Admission £9.50 for two promotional offer,
Programme £3 Attendance 19,927 (1.085 away fans)
Birmingham City:
Boaz Myhill, Peter Ramage (Pablo Ibanez, 54), Curtis Davies, Steven Caldwell, David Murphy, Chris Burke, Guirane N'Daw, Keith Fahey, Andros Townsend (Wade Elliott, 79), Nikola Zigic, Marlon King (Erik Huseklepp, 75).
Unused Subs - Morgaro Gomis, Nathan Redmond.
Jason Steele, Justin Hoyte (Curtis Main, 72), Joe Bennett, Matthew Bates, Kevin Thomson, Nicky Bailey, Adam Hammill (Malaury Martin, 72), Seb Hines, Julio Arca Richard Smallwood, 72), Tony McMahon, Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Unused Subs - Marvin Emnes, Bart Ogbeche
Marlon King unnerves Boro by showing off his levitation skills prior to kick off

As the scoreline suggests, a comfortable home win for Birmingham City.
There wasn't much in it before the break, apart from Nikola Zigic's opening goal, when the big Serbian striker stooped to conquer and head home 'man of the match' Chris Burke's cross from out on the right wing, a position he terrorised Boro's defence from all afternoon.
The BBC's match statistics say that the overall possession quota, fell narrowly in City's favour by 53% against Middlesbrough's 47%, over the duration of the 90(+6) minutes.
Though to be honest I thought that percentage differential, was maybe a bit generous to the visitors and doesn't give Chris Hughton's team anything like enough credit, especially for the way they took the game by the scruff of the neck after the half time interval.
Referee Graham Scott, with the 'photogenic' Middlesbrough
manager Tony Mowbray in the background.

In the second half 'Boro' caved in and were well beaten by an attack minded Blues side, who took their chances well when it mattered and always looked more dangerous than the Teessiders on the break.
One side show I found amusing, was the duel that lasted throughout the game, between Nikola Zigic and Middlesbrough's Nicky Bailey.
The two of them competed toe to toe and had plenty to say to each other all afternoon.
Ultimately Zigic won that personal head to head.
The visitors thought they had pulled level on 55 minutes, but Joe Bennett's effort was chalked off for being offside.
Then the wheels really came off altogether for Middlesbrough shortly afterwards, when Marlon King fired home another Chris Burke right wing cross from 12 yards out.
The game was as good as over on the hour, when Keith Fahey ran all the way from the Birmingham half of the pitch, dummied Jason Steele, the Boro keeper and slotted home the third and final goal.
That was the cue for a whole load of Boro fans to nip of into the city centre to join in with the St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
"You should've gone before we started"

A lot of people of Irish origin live in cosmopolitan Birmingham, the pubs we passed on the way back to New Street Station after the game were packed and the partying was in full swing.
Seb Hines nearly reduced the arrears in the last five minutes for the visitors, but Boaz Myhill pulled off a stunning save from close range.
City were unlucky not to get a fourth goal in the final minute, when Wade Elliot's effort was deflected narrowly wide of the goal.
"I never touched him Ref!"

The final whistle sounded, ELO's 'Mister Blue Sky' boomed out over the St. Andrew's PA system and this afternoon's result meant Middlesbrough had been leapfrogged by Blues in the table.
Note, a friend of mine from Small Heath, insists that it is correct to refer to Birmingham City as 'Blues' as opposed to 'the Blues'.
And despite the spell-checker on my PC saying otherwise, there are two letter s's in the middle of the word Teesside.
A brisk walk back into the city centre ... well, the gradient is downhill that way, so us old 'uns didn't need a cab ride in both directions ... took about 20 minutes or so and led us straight into the middle of the high jinx that was unfolding in the name of the Patron Saint of Ireland, where we spent the next couple of hours.
There are going to be some very messed up and hungover people in Birmingham in the morning, the place was bouncing.
Unfortunately, I had to indulge in moderation only, I'm up at 4.30AM for a Sunday shift at work ... Ouch!
Well done to Paul Cox and Mansfield Town today, they were 7-0 winners v Barrow and could even shrug off a penalty miss by Matt Green.
I guess you save those sorts of performances for when I've gone elsewhere Coxy!
A well earned Blues victory.
They were infinitely better than the BBC stats department seemed to think.
And a thoroughly deserved defeat for Boro too, who were nowhere near as good as the lies, damn lies and statistics made out.
An entertaining game, some choice beers and good company ... everything went according to plan.
We're already planning our next trip to St. Andrews for later this season, though the runt of our litter who suggested Villa Park in the near future instead, isn't invited.
Anyway, if you ever visit Birmingham City and feel like joining in with the communal singing at St. Andrews Stadium, apart from "Zuluuus! Zuluuus!" and "Sh*t on the Villa, sh*t on the V*lla tonight!", here are the song words you'll need to know ... and yes Paul, I typed it all from memory ;-)
Every road through life is a long, long road
Filled with joys and sorrows too
As you journey on how your heart will yearn
For the things most dear to you
With wealth and love ‘tis so
But onward we must go

Keep right on to the end of the road
Keep right on to the end
Though the way be long, let your heart be strong
Keep right on to the end
Though you're tired and weary still journey on,
Till you come to your happy abode
Where all you love, you've been dreaming of
Will be there, at the end of the road

With a big stout heart to a long steep hill
We may get there with a smile
With a good kind thought and a mile end view
We may cut short many a mile
So let courage every day
Be your guiding star always

Keep right on to the end of the road
Keep right on to the end
Though the way be long, let your heart be strong
Keep right on to the end
Though you're tired and weary still journey on,
Till you come to your happy abode
Where all you love, you've been dreaming of
Will be there, at the end of the road

Oh ... and maybe this one too: