Welcome to Broadhall Way! It’s the line that expert orator Andy Green has no doubt reeled off countless times over the years. There is one time, however, when things seemed ever-so-slightly different. Was it the four-fold bump in stadium capacity? Or the swathes of blue seats surrounding him? Or that Andy was 90-odd miles from his usual patch, standing in the home of Birmingham City for a ‘home’ FA Cup tie. Oh, those were the days eh?
It’s the second week on the spin, too, that we tell the tale of a one-off meeting; a chance encounter if you wish to call it that. As the FA Cup saw us cross paths with Soham Town Rangers for a first and (so far) last date back in 1984, so it did with the Blues just over a decade later. And it can it not be said that our Brum experience had a butterfly wings effect that we are perhaps still feeling some effect of today? We’ll let you decide that one…
Birmingham City: Who Are They?
The club came to be in 1875 under the guise of Small Heath Alliance, before binning off the Alliance add-on in 1888. In a small coinkydink, the following season saw them join the Football Alliance. We’re not sure if it was a condition of entry that you couldn’t have the same name as the competition. We doubt it, however. In 1902-3, the Blues were one of the founder members – and first champions – of Football League Division Two.
The Blues haven’t set foot outside the League since, and – to be fair – they haven’t come close to either.
Small Heath became Birmingham in 1905; the City suffix was added in 1943. And, all the while, the Blues were moving between Divisions One and Two every now and then. If you like your trivia, Wikipedia reveals (backed up by credible sources) how Birmingham were the first English club side to take part in European competition; playing their first group game in the inaugural Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1956. You can have that one for free.
Us And Them…
The worst it has ever been for Birmingham City is a three-year spell in Division Three between 1989 and 1992. You’d know it better these days as League One, which is hardly dreadful. It wasn’t until 2011 before we’d even made it that high, so you can see why the Cup was the only way we’d ever meet. Admittedly, however, our one encounter (to date) was at a time that we had reached new heights in winning the 1995-6 Conference title.
Well, more or less.
As reigning champions, our 1996-7 FA Cup campaign was getting ridiculous. By the time we’d got to the Third Round stage, we’d played Arlesey, Baldock (twice), Braintree, Ebbsfleet, Hayes (twice) and Leyton Orient. And Birmingham City? Well, they had a bye to this stage – didn’t they. After drawing the Blues at home, the tie was switched to the Midlands. And you might well note how we never did that again. Not even for Newcastle.
And Then What?
In the end, the Blues were too strong for us. Our brave efforts weren’t enough to earn a replay, but one trip to Birmingham is often enough for one year. The tie did put some names in lights, however. Barry Hayles and Efe Sodje were two of the lads to make themselves known, if they hadn’t already. And Boro’, to be fair, had made ourselves into a force to be reckoned with; helping to close the gap between the Conference and Div Three.
Brum went on to lose to Wrexham in the Fifth Round that term, finishing mid-table in Division One too. In the years that followed came a series of failures in the playoffs; promotion to the Premier League eventually won in 2002. After a couple of yo-yo years and the like, they’re now back in the second tier; struggling, now, to live with the ridiculous call to dump Gary Rowett as boss in 2016. Maybe we’ll meet again sooner than we thought?
Birmingham City: Boro’s Record
P1 W0 D0 L1 F0 A2 – League Points: 0, Cup Meetings: 1, Win Rate: 0%
• BoroGuide’s Birmingham City club profile – for old time’s sake…