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St Andrews
  Birmingham City v
Peterborough United
Championship League
Saturday November 19th, 2011, 3pm
Andrew van den Bent-Kelly
(Peterborough United fan)

I couldn’t turn down the chance to go to one of the biggest grounds in the division and with Birmingham City being a former Premier League team, it seemed likely that the match (and indeed the whole day out) would be a good one.

As always, Peterborough had been entertaining crowds up and down the country and I was hopeful that they could maintain their top-half status with a good result against the Blues.

We decided to catch an early train, which took us straight to Birmingham New Street in about 1hr 45mins. We got a bit lost walking through the enormous Bullring Centre, but once out of that we had no problem finding the ground. The walk from the station to the ground took about 20 minutes.

Birmingham’s a very big city and, unsurprisingly, there's no shortage of pubs. As a group with plenty of Irish heritage, we were delighted to find that the main road leading to St Andrew’s had several Irish pubs. We popped into The Dubliner hoping for some lunch and discovered that a fried breakfast was available all day for just £2! There weren’t really any Birmingham fans in the pub, but it was fairly early in the day. The Irish Brummies were friendly, though we expected nothing less! After some drinks we made our way to the ground.

From the outside, the ground looks pretty impressive. It’s big, but the club make an effort to help away fans find their way in, so you don’t have to wander around the stadium looking for the correct stand. The concourse areas in the away end are fairly standard, perhaps a bit small but not a massive problem.

Upon stepping out of the concourse into the actual stand, the view of the ground is really quite imposing. Though the stand to the left looks rather dated, the two other ends are large and modern. They’re joined at the corner too, which makes them look even more striking. The ground wasn’t anywhere near full capacity, but there was still a decent turnout of around 18,000. I was sitting in the second row, amongst roughly 1,600 other Posh fans. The seats have lots of leg room and you get a good view wherever you are in the away end. The stewards were fine and just told you to go to the back if you wanted to stand.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed with the Birmingham fans. With the exception of the corner right next to the away end, the ground was practically silent for the whole game. Our fans took a while to get going (understandably, given Posh’s first half performance!), but were certainly making the most noise in the stadium. As I’ve just hinted, Birmingham completely dominated the first half. We showed them far too much respect and it was no real surprise when Marlon King put the hosts ahead after 22 minutes. As the half-time whistle blew, we counted ourselves very lucky to be only a goal down. I decided not to buy anything at half time, just stayed in my seat and took some pictures.

Birmingham started the second half well, but after about 50 minutes we began to grow into the game. We had a good 10-minute spell in which the ball rarely left the Birmingham half and after an hour had passed, we won a free-kick just outside the area. At first I thought it was too far wide even for our captain and free-kick specialist Grant McCann, but fortunately he proved me wrong with a peach of a strike into the top-right corner. The away end went absolutely mental and the level of banter between us and the corner of Blues fans next to us rose dramatically!

The game opened up a bit more during the closing 30 minutes, which made it all the more exciting. Birmingham almost snatched the win in injury time and when the final whistle blew there was an almighty cheer from the away fans. A few months before the game Birmingham had been in the Premier League and we had been in League One, so to come away from St Andrew’s with a point was a brilliant achievement for us.

We had no trouble getting out of the ground after the game had finished. We headed to the Birmingham Irish Centre and had some drinks in the Connaught Bar, which had a great feel about it. There were several Birmingham fans present, all of whom were very friendly and had the decency to congratulate us on the result. We returned to The Dubliner for some more drinks and then headed back to the station, where a quick Burger King was followed by a very rowdy train journey back to Peterborough.

All in all it was a great day out. There’s plenty to see and do in Birmingham before and after the game and the ground is a good one to visit. The result was excellent and provided Birmingham don’t get promoted (or dare I say it, we get relegated), I’m looking forward to visiting St Andrew’s again next season!


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