April 4, 2013 by Made In Brum
My first game was Blues v Portsmouth on Saturday 26th October 1935. Blues 4.0 Portsmouth. I don’t remember much about the game, I was only 3 and half and on my dads shoulders. I remember a lot of men in Blue and white and men in Red and white running around. In case you are wondering I know the date because we were all sent out of the house because my mum was due to have my little brother. He was eventually born on the 29th, hence how I know the date.
Soon after this we moved from Muntz Street, Small Heath, to Cregoe Street, at the top of Holloway Head. We used to get to the games by way of walking down Holloway Head, across The Horsefair, and into and along Smallbrook Street. At the Bull ring, we would walk down, and along Digbeth to the Coventry Road then up Kingston Hill to the ground.
It was called Kingston Hill, because of the Kingston Cinema on the left, where the car park is now. I saw a few more games before the war and they were all big gates. Kids like me were lifted up from the back, and passed over the heads of the crowds down to the front. It was advisable to wear wellies I wont explain why.
You can guess I suppose I must be one of the few people around today who saw Joe Bradford and Harry Hibbs play, although Joe Bradford had retired in 1935, and of course do not remember him playing. I have met him though a few times when he came into the old “D” club in the late 60s and 70s.
After the war, I used to either come down in Dads car or on my bike, which I always parked up by the side of the maisonettes on the left coming up Kingston Hill, for two pence. I remember in 1945/1946 when we won the League South, I think it was our last game against Charlton Athletic. We were winning 1-0 when they had a penalty. Their goalkeeper, Sam Bartram came running up to take it. Gil Merrick was in-goal. Bartram smashed it against the crossbar, he hit it so hard it bounced back beyond the penalty area. It finished 1-0 to Blues and we won the league. We never got much credit for that win, in spite of all the London clubs being in it. Nothing has changed there then!
Going back to pre-war, I don’t remember much about the games as I was 8 when the war started, but I do remember the Arsenal game in 1939. I think we lost because I cried all the way home. The Everton game was memorable too, but only because of the huge crowd of around 66000 I believe. For years, we were up and down from one league to another. Nothing changes! Although a lot of us were a bit niggled because having won the League South Title, when the leagues resumed we had to go into the 2nd Division from pre-war.
Inter Cities Fairs Cup
In Season 55/56,I remember the first Inter Cities Fairs Cup Game at St Andrews. ZAGREB. I think about 40000 attended on a Monday night; we won 3-0. Bryan Orrit scored first, right after kick off, and a lot of fans missed it. The second by Eddy Brown and third by Peter Murphy, both in the second half. The Inter Milan game in April 1957 was a cracker. Alex Govan ( he of “Keep right on to the end of the road “fame) scored after a free kick from Gordon Astle. Govan then scored a second in the second half and we won 2-1.
Season 1957/1958 we had Barcelona come down here and at the time I thought it was a small gate considering it was Barcelona and later found we only had about 30000 in the ground. When you think we could easily get 50000 in, the ground looked empty. Again we scored almost straight from the kick off, from Eddy Brown and they also scored back almost straight away. It was end to end stuff. They scored next 1-2. Then Orrit netted for us, 2- 2. Then they scored again 2-3, and then Orrit equalised again for us 3-3, i am tired just thinking about it, half time. The second half was almost an anti climax, until Murphy scored to make the final result 4-3 Blues. The second leg in Barcelona ended 1-0 , therefore 4-4 and a replay in Basle, Switzerland. This unfortunately ended 2-1 to Barcelona and we were out.
What can I say? Every single round away from home. In round three my Dad and me, in his old pre war Morris 8, went down to Torquay in the January. 7-1 Blues. We travelled back up the old A38, through Bath and broke down half way up that bloody hill coming out of Bath. Got home next day. No telephone at home back then, so had to send telegrams. Then down to Leyton Orient for the next round. The fourth. No segregation in those days. Everyone in together. No trouble though, and we won 4-0. Away again for the 5th round at the Baggies. 1-0.Blues. Spud Murphy. No crowd trouble. A fair number of drunks though, I seem to remember a fair few drunks at this game. I was a young copper at this time, and Albion was right on the boundary of my Division so I knew a few of the lads.
Quarter finals, Arsenal at Highbury. My Dads car seemed to know the way to London by now. We had been down to Millwall the season before too.. I was amazed by the size of the crowd, I believe around 60000. I had an uncle in Kingsbury near Wembley and we met up before the game. Had a couple of pints but as I was driving- no Breathalyser’s then- I didn’t have anymore, unlike my Dad and my Uncle. We won 3-1 but on the way home we ran out of petrol. We managed to get some just outside of Banbury.
Semi-final. Sunderland. Neutral ground, away again. Played at Hillsborough and got lost on the way there. Couldn’t understand the Yorkie accent either. Damn awful terracing in those days; part slag heap at one end. Anyway it was worth the trouble we won 3-0.
Birmingham City vs Manchester City F A Cup 1956
Then the final at Wembley. Manchester bloody City. Can you believe? I got tickets OK again but couldn’t get leave, no one would change shifts with me. To make matters worse, I was on the 2pm to 10 pm shift. Had to sell my ticket. Dad went by himself. When I turned up for my shift it got even worse, I was posted to Hockley Brook on traffic control. A six ways junction and stood there in the middle of the road until 6pm. Couldn’t even hear the radio- I had no idea of what was going on at Wembley. Two of these roads went to and from Aston, and believe me the traffic on them had a lot of delays that day. When I was relieved at 6pm, I found out the score. We had lost 3-1. My old Dad always said it was my fault for not being there. He reckoned I was the lucky mascot.
One game I do remember was back in 1954 just before Christmas. Blues 9-1 Liverpool. I’m not sure where this score stands in our highest score category, but I think quite highly for post war football. I can’t recall a better one, however for the life of me I cannot remember who scored the goals. No doubt one of you reading this can post it up. I think I’ve reminisced enough for now, plus my memory box is not as good as it used to be.
Bye for now. Trev.