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St Andrews
  Birmingham City v Swansea City
Championship League
Sunday December 28th, 2008, 3pm
Lee Jones
(Swansea City fan)

As a Swansea fan who has “enjoyed” the treats of League One and Two over recent years I have decided to try and visit all the teams I have not been to before now we are in the Championship. I was really looking forward to a former Premier league club having done Reading, Palace and Charlton earlier in the season.

I travelled by car and had a straightforward journey using sat nav. A tip I was given beforehand was to set it for Cattell Road, Birmingham. B4 9 as you end up on the away side of the ground. On leaving the motorway and various A roads you can see the ground from quite a distance as it is perched up on a hill.

We got there about 1.00pm so it had taken us about 2.5hours for the run. I parked in a fenced off car park area about 100 yards from the away fans entrance. It was called the Christian centre I think and cost £5. It looked very secure a point I will come back to. I checked with some stewards about somewhere for a bite to eat and they directed us to a large Woolworths and Morrisons on a retail park directly opposite.

I had read on one of the forums that the Brighton Arms in Coventry Road was a good shout for away fans so we walked across the Morrisons car park and proceeded along the Coventry Road to find the pub. We had a good welcome there and there was a good mixture of home and away fans with no hint of any problems. The bar staff were really friendly but the food looked a bit ropey. (Served out the back from a little shed) I would though recommend the Chicken Curry and chips, although and they did a full monty breakfast all day if that is your thing. Most meals seemed to be about £3.00 so cheap enough. The only disappointment was that they advertised Sky Sports but only had Setanta so those who wanted to see the Newcastle v Liverpool game had to rely on updates from Setanta News.

We left the pub at about 2.15pm and walked over to the ground we then had a surreal conversation with about 20 Borussia Mönchengladbach fans who were also going to the game. We never really established what the connection was.

We got a programme for £3.50 this was quite a good read with plenty of articles and trivia questions linking the two clubs which was good. We were seated in the Railway stand with the rest of the Swans fans. I was in seat 60 on row 15 and this was a good seat with a clear view. The food kiosks were quite well spread out however one of our party wanted a burger before the game kicked off and was told they had all sold out but there would be more at half time!

The stadium itself is three quarters modernised with one side looking a bit elderly next to the more modern Kop and Railway stands. The stands appear very close to the pitch compared to the modern stadia and seemed to help with getting the atmosphere going. We needed to get it going as it hovered around 1c all day. The stewards were very easy going and if anything a bit too soft as they just said sit where you like. This resulted in a few people trying to reclaim their seats. The Swans brought just over 2,100 fans who sang and chanted all the way through. Our last defeat had been at home against the Blues 3-2 having led twice before Kevin Phillips stole that game from us so we were hoping for revenge. However since that game we had drawn all 8 of our games since then so we were desperate for a win.

The game kicked off and was all Swansea playing their expansive passing game with Birmingham looking well off the pace. The home fans were very quiet and were the subject of much banter to try and get “the singing section” to join in. The first half ended 0-0 and we were dreading another game slipping away.

The concessions stands were as in all games useless at half time so no chance of a hot drink. I then heard that a minibus hired from Swansea and parked in a nearby estate had been set alight by some locals leaving them stranded on a Sunday over the Xmas period. They were not happy at all and a poor reflection on the local support. It also came out that a few bottles had been thrown at buses near the McDonalds at the bottom of the hill below the ground prior to the KO. It seemed most of the miscreants were young teenagers.

The second half continued in the same vein it was a case of beauty and the beast as the Swans passed the ball around but to no end product while the Blues played hoof ball. There were a few meaty challenges from each side and Mike Reid the ref seemed to be letting the game flow. The Blues no3 Murphy had already been booked when he went in very heavily on Jordi Gomez and had a second yellow. Both side made changes but it inevitably resulted in a draw much to the Blues relief as they had definitely gained a point while we had dropped 2.

I had a chat with a few Blues fans walking back who seemed a good bunch but there were a few kids with scarves up over their mouths looking for a bit of trouble but it seemed a bit of bravado. I got back to my car which was safe in the compound and we got away quite smoothly and back onto the motorway getting home about 9pm after a stop in the services. A good day out and would recommend going however park in a secure spot if our experiences are anything to go by.

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