October 17, 2014 by bluenosebible
By Nat Peters
Now let me get something straight; I don’t put the blame for our woeful record at Stan’s in the past year or two solely or even substantially on our fans. Ultimately the fans can only do so much and ultimately by far the largest amount of responsibility for results lie elsewhere. It could be argued that the fans who are still turning up after watching so much dross in recent times, still turning up in spite of us being turned over by multiple teams who would never have lived with us at the turn of the decade (and in numerous cases would have been two, three or four divisions away from playing against us full stop) are doing well to even part with money to still continue to watch week after week.
Let’s face it, the atmosphere at Blues is often inaudible, sometimes poisonous but rarely resoundingly supportive. Some argue that it is hard to be defiantly supportive of the players when the results have been so bad and we have been played off the park so often, and to an extent I can understand that. But I also think (and I’m not exactly a fan of Tom Ross sponsored clichés, but this one is spot on) that it is easy to support a team when things are going well but now, when we are struggling and have been struggling for some time, is when the team really needs our support.
As I said, some might say that turning up and paying your money is as much support as can be expected. Yet I can’t help but think of some home games last season where the atmosphere was good, such as Swansea and Stoke in the Capital One Cup or Burnley and Derby in the league, where we were expected to get nothing except a good hiding but managed to get results in all four. I honestly think the players were galvanised by the fact that the fans were getting right behind them on those occasions, and the fans were possibly more willing and more ‘up for it’ on those occasions for the very reason that we were the underdogs.
But our main problem hasn’t been getting turned over by the leading lights of the division, but the lesser ones. When we were getting turned over on our own turf by the likes of Yeovil, Charlton and the whatnot, yes the team was often as flat as a pancake but so were the fans. Even this season, in recent home games against Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham we were playing reasonably well from the start of the game until well into the second-half and the ground wasn’t exactly buzzing but at least there was something for the players to feed off in terms of noise. But when both of them got their first goal against us in those games, the stadium went silent save the sound of disconcerted muttering, and we’ve gone on to lose both games; where was any semblance of giving support to the players? Where was the resilience we as fans used to show when our side’s backs were against the wall to make some noise to try and galvanise the team into a response?
People have wondered why our away form has been pretty good whilst our home form has been so abysmal. I think one of the reasons has to be how flat the atmosphere is at home; I honestly think part of the reason our players seemed to have preferred playing away for so long is simply because away from home even what are much smaller hordes of Blues of fans gives them so much more to feed off. We are similar to many clubs when our away support is much more effervescent than our home support, but there are few grounds around right now with an atmosphere as regularly morbid as the one at Stan’s.
What can you do to improve it? The Forza Blues group had a crack at making some noise, but that seems to have died a bit of a death amidst some almost triumphant gloating from those who were seemingly desperate to see it fail from its very conception. God knows why people should rejoice in the lack of success of Blues fans who were making a genuine attempt to generate a better atmosphere at games, but then some people really are that sad. As an example I saw one person calling the organisers of the Forza Blues “vain and arrogant”; I happen to know the people involved (though I never really got involved myself), they certainly aren’t “vain and arrogant”, but just people who genuinely wanted to better the club. How you can be slated for that I do not know.
The best thing to come out of Block 11 in recent times in my opinion is the brainchild of my mate Johnny Rafter, and that is the song “Typical Blues”. Man United have the ‘United Way’, Barca are ‘More than a club’ and for me Birmingham City are the ‘Typical Blues’. I don’t consider myself to support Blues anymore; I support the Typicals. The song encapsulates the randomness, bizarreness and just general typicalness of what this club has always been about. But the other week I saw someone taking a pop at it, which was the catalyst for a load more to slate it as well. We used to be the club that prided itself on the fact that we used to regularly cultivate songs about food, and now we have regressed to the point where we have a small number of chumps taking a pop at song as original and creative as “Typical Blues”; the game’s gone.
It may just be nowadays that people don’t like anything quirky or just something that stands out from the crowd. But if people and groups like the ones I have mentioned are always going to be slated by a vocal minority for trying something to improve the atmosphere at games, then nothing will ever improve and that is desperately sad and worrying. It’s got to the point where Blues fans are volte-face from being the rabid army of borderline loons that would, in Glenn Hoddle’s own words, make St. Andrew’s the most intimidating ground he’s ever been to. Now it’s just crap, where fans just sit their twiddling their thumbs without any inclination to try and get behind the side until we are winning.
All in all, it is depressing going to Stan’s right now. Predominantly, that is because the team isn’t particularly good and hasn’t been for a good while. But also I think the atmosphere makes a bad situation even worse, and that the atmosphere is something that could potentially be rectified if there was some kind of supporter cohesion makes things even more desperate. I find it very sad that the days of every game being like a cauldron of noise, as was the case about a decade or so ago, are such a distant memory. I honestly think if we could get back a fraction of what we were like in our early days as a Premier League club, where win lose or draw we wouldn’t stop singing from first whistle to last, then it may just give the team a lift an in turn give ourselves an upturn in home form.
You can read more of Nat’s thoughts on his blog: http://nattubes.wordpress.com/