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St Andrews
Birmingham City v West Bromwich Albion

FA Cup 4th Round
Saturday, January 24th, 2015, 3pm
Lee Jones
(West Brom fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground?

A local derby in the FA Cup is always exciting but the general demand for tickets from Baggies fans for this cup tie, had been overwhelming. We sold our initial allocation in a few hours and were then given extra to take the total allocation up to 5,500. The extra tickets went in hours too. Those of us with tickets were certainly looking forward to the game.

2. How easy were your journey/ finding the ground/ car parking?

As it was a local game, the train was the obvious choice. It is about a 25 minute walk from the City centre to the stadium, so itís quite important to allow enough time. It is easy to find the stadium, though I have been many times. Car parking is not easy to find but one of the lads did drive over and parked at the Ibis Hotel for about £7.

3. What you did before the game pub/ chippy... home fans friendly?

For us it was inevitable that we would have a pre-match beer or three in the City centre. Though Blues and Baggies had no great history of trouble we were obviously in their town and bore that in mind. We chose the Old Contemptibles near Snow Hill station. As it turned out, there were mainly Baggies in there but the Blues fans were more than happy to join in the singing about our friends from Aston. We had an enjoyable couple of hours in there before heading off and got on very well with all the Bluenoses.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

St Andrews has improved over the years and is a pretty impressive stadium. It is at the top of a hill so you can see it above you as you walk up the road to it. The access is easy, through the away coach park, though as we had both sides of the Gil Merrick lower stand, some Baggies had to walk to the other side. The area below the stand is quite large but the pie and beer stands were very busy and the queues were too long to bother with. Getting to our seat, we were immediately hit by how large our following was, with the whole visible area being given over to us. The Blues fans had turned out too though and the ground looks great when itís full like that. Even the old Main Stand which is much smaller than the others appeared packed to the rafters.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc...

The atmosphere was really good. The Blues were in full voice and so were we. The stewards were drafted in from Albion and so we had no problem with them. Everyone stood as usual and settled down to a cracking cup tie. I must say here, that full respect must go to the Birmingham City fans and Club. We have a tradition this season of applauding for one minute at the 9th minute in honour of our ďKingĒ, Jeff Astle who died from a football related illness. At the ninth minute, Birmingham City put a picture of Jeff on their scoreboard and the Blues fans to a man/woman joined in our applause. It was a very moving gesture from the Club and does Birmingham City great credit.

The game itself was very good and was just about shaded in the first half by us. We took a 1-0 lead through Anichebe who repeated the deed a little later. Blues scored right on half time to deservedly get back in the game. That goal had the effect of making us all a little nervous.

At Half time we didnít try the catering simply because of the amount of us there, it would have been a long battle to get a pie and pint. The lads next to us, got back to their seat 10 minutes into the second half!

Blues proceeded to throw everything at us in the second half and on another day, would have got a replay. Their keeper made and excellent save from Lescott early on in the second half and we hit the post from a tight angle. Blues had a couple of long range shots but never got the goal they needed.

Final whistle signalled celebrations (and Boinging). Through to the next round. I really expected a slip up, so was very pleased.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Birmingham has been a place where in the past, getting out of the ground was a bit unpleasant. This is not really the case these days, and the relationship between the fans is quite good. To be fair, I heard a few Baggies say, if there wasnít an Albion, they would follow Birmingham! It was a very enjoyable trek back into town and as we were walking, there were no traffic delays. The best way if possible is to go on the train. We headed back for a post-match celebratory beer and found ourselves accompanied by mainly other celebrating Baggies. The few Blues drinking with us were in pretty good spirits and were happy they had played so well. Even the fans on the train wished me all the best for the rest of the season and hope we stay up, to play them again in the League next year.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

It was a much anticipated day for all the Baggies going and very much lived up to the billing. Got there and away easily and had a great time drinking with other supporters in the City before and after the game. The other lads stayed out longer into the night than me and had a great time.

Love local derbies, even better when we win and not quite the problems we have with some other local sides. Itís just a major pity that we have to play Villa (boo!) on a Tuesday night because Birmingham is a great place to play Saturday afternoon football.

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