An occasional series of Blues related musings and match reports written with an often skewed perspective from the UK, USA, Ecuador, Tasmania, Austria, Whitehouse Common Road, Canada, Iceland, Myanmar, Scotland, Italy or wherever my work takes me as an almost retired photography tour guide.  I don't see it myself, but I've been told that I'm a long waaaaaay BEYOND THE FAR POST . . .


January 17th, 2014

OPINION: Former villain now a hero?

It was not that long ago when our own Paul Robinson broke Blues' midfielder Damien Johnson's jaw in a fixture versus the Albion, and instantly became a target of hate among us Blues fans.  Fast forward a few years and Robinson is now a rock at the heart of the Blues defence and all has been forgotten, apparently, as he turns in solid performances week after week . . .including a rare goal which flew in against Bristol Rovers the other night.  Have we forgiven and forgot?  Most of us wouldn't want a thug on our team - unless it was Messi or Ronaldo, right? - and as Paul is no Joey Barton, I say we let the past go, and get behind him. Mmmm, l'll level with you though, I wouldn't want to be in front of Paul with the ball at my feet!

November 14th, 2013

OPINION: Kyle Bartley abuse case in Glasgow court on Thursday

Racial abuse should never, ever  be 'normal', but there are few small-minded folk [idiots] who think it is funny to hurl abuse at whoever they please. While playing for Rangers our own Kyle Bartley and American Maurice Edu were abused via Twitter, and there is more on the resulting day's court proceedings here.  We're behind you Kyle, but just don't call me a Brummie bar steward eh?  [I was born in Lichfield]  ;-)

November 12th, 2013

OPINION: Blues ladies at St. Andrews . . . about friggin' time!

I'm not even close to being an expert in regard to matters relating to the Lady Blues, but when they kick off at 7 pm on Wednesday night at St. Andrews, hopefully it will be the first of many such fixtures.  The opponents are Russian side FK Zorkiy who the Blues ladies beat 2-0 in the first leg of their tie in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Check out the two brilliant goals here . . . and good luck ladies!

August 28th, 2013

OPINION: Injury fair play in game against Yeovil

It's an un-written law/gentleman's agreement, or whatever you want to call it, that if you kick the ball out of play so that a player can get treatment, that you get the ball back. It's always been that way, and speaks well of players, teams and cultures that practice the gesture. That said, Yeovil didn't break any laws when they scored their equaliser, but you just don't do that do you?!  Perhaps it's time for FIFA to establish solid guidelines on this?

August, 2013

OPINION: King's departure

Marlon King's recent [alleged] infraction appears to have hastened the fellow's departure from St. Andrews, which is a pity as the team needs a proven goal scorer right now.  The thing is though, one has to keep one's own house in order if you want respect in life, and Marlon has failed to do that. Consequently, and despite the needs of the team, his departure is best for Birmingham City.

July, 2013

OPINION: Davies and Redmond: It's sad but it has to be - Que sera, sera

As above, the two players I really didn't want to see leave Blues this summer have gone their Premiership ways.  It was inevitable regardless of the fact that Birmingham City is a ship with a giant frickin' hole in the hull, i.e. the better players will always want to test/better themselves in the world's top leagues.  Nathan should be OK at Chris Houghton's Norwich if they give him some playing time, but we may be seeing Curtis sooner than he thinks as Steve Bruce's managerial talents bottom out at 18th place in the Premier league.  So I say good luck boys, because the younger players will now get their chance and many will succeed. We saw that last season did we not?

June, 2013

TWISTED OPINION: Football League rummage sale

It seems that nobody wants to buy the club, and at this rate Irma Postlethwaite of Hinckley is going to be the new owner.  I just hope she has plenty of money stored away in that box under her bed for new players.

March 30th, 2013

Just two years after winning the league Cup, the Club are at a low ebb. But will results on the field have an impact our ailing fortunes in the coming weeks?

  Cast your meat pies [eyes] on a few late 2012/13 season perspectives regarding results on the field . . .

Yep, what?, sure. Let me explain.  It's been going on two years since my last verbal conundrum, and although I've had the inclination to rectify that on many occasions, life kept getting the way in the form of travel, and plain old disgust at the events at the club.

Chris Hughton - gotta love him - has come and gone, and has been replaced by someone who appeared equally qualified, but until recently wasn't throwing the right switches. More on Lee Clark later.

Events involving the Club owner have overshadowed everything regarding the team for quite some time now, but when the season started we had a good balance of experience and youth, and were ready to be solid challengers for honours come the end of the season.

For some reason it hasn't turned out that way, and we've spent an awful lot of time hovering on the precipice of League 1. Actually, all season until now, March of 2013. Why is this?  Perhaps we wanted to give all the other clubs a head start, and get them thinking that we weren't a threat?  A risky gamble, but it may be working!

Let's get something clear right now though . . . we're not going to be in the playoffs this year.

Hang on, as I write that I'm not entirely convinced that I'm being truthful, as it's my feeling/opinion that if we 'keep right on' in the same vein of form as we are currently exhibiting, there is no reason why we should not be in the top six by time the whistle blows to conclude our game against Blackburn Rovers on May the 4th.  That would be a St. Andrews miracle indeed.

As alluded to earlier, when the season started we possessed a squad that should have spent more time in the top six, rather than the bottom six that has engulfed us these past few months.  But here we are on the brink of something massive.

Unfortunately it is my personal opinion - from afar of course - that Lee Clark didn't prepare or get the best out of the players in the early months, and it was quite astonishing to see us languishing around the Championship relegation zone. Seriously, with the set of players we have it was a shock to me. Unsubstantiated rumours that Lee was falling out with various players may have contributed to our series of poor results, but as the season enters it's final lap I'm witnessing a cohesive club . . . at least on the field.

In the end, should our beloved Blues go from relegation contenders to the play-offs, one might have to ask, is this Lee Clark or Clark Kent?!

No, this is not about wins and losses on the field of play, but about those players who could, and should, be the future of Birmingham City.

I'm not going to name names as that would be an affront to those players I might inadvertently omit, but suffice to say there are quite a number of players - old and young, seasoned and just getting going - that I'd personally like to see stay on at St. Andrews and become part of a new and very successful dynasty. Forgive me, it's a dream of mine!

Sure, should we not make the play-offs we'll lose an accomplished set of players, but others will come in and serve the club well.

However, if I had my choice I'd opt for the 'miracle', which in turn would most likely keep our better players at the club . . . and in the Premiership.

It's a fine line that our current set of players actually have the ability to cross.

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


July 3rd, 2011

We have the League Cup, McLeish has gone, and we now have attack-minded Chris Hughton in charge

  Cast your meat pies [eyes] on my summer perspectives regarding current events at St. Andrews . . .

Huh, what?!  How could that happen with the squad we had?  How come we couldn't muster just one more point in any of the last six games of the season?  How come we've not been able to score goals for the last couple of seasons?  Where did our attacking threat go?  Oh, hang on, we haven't really had an attacking threat for much longer than that now have we?

In my opinion most of those questions can be answered with two words . . . . Alex McLeish.

Talking of Alex McLeish, I ask ya', what is it with this defensive-mindedness stuff?

When Alex came to us many thought he could do what Ferguson has done for Manchester United, and so did I.  However, have you ever seen a Manchester United team that defends from the outset?  Nope, I didn't think so as they are always on the front foot taking the game to their opponents.  Why do you think that is? Perhaps it's because goals win games regardless of whether you have the money to buy the world's best players.  Yep siree Bobby, erm Alex, goals win games!

Now here's something to ponder . . . if we hadn't have been relegated Alex would still be our manager.  Oh dear.  So from my perspective, I'll take the League Cup and the shake-up that relegation has brought on and look forward to see what Chris Hughton can do for us, especially as his Newcastle United team always started on the front foot . . . echo, echo, echo.

Anyway, want to know what Alex's true record in management is?  Sure, Rangers were successful, but anyone over 25 should be able to get Rangers into at least 2nd place in the Scottish Prem.  Anyway, a Villa fan breaks down Alex's record here.  Great isn't it, eh?!  Villa have a manager that relegated us twice, and played dire footy except when we were passing it around at the back.

So, life is good, and agent McLeish is ready to put smiles on the Blues fan's faces next season.  It's inevitable.

The League Cup win?  Hang on, I'll come back to that.

A great appointment in my opinion.  No nonsense, direct, and even if the opposition eleven are better than our eleven on occasion this coming season, they'll know they've been in a game.

In Craig's case the club would have to have paid Premiership wages to a Championship player, but that aside, why would Craig, a "Blues fan" by all accounts, want to ask for a raise, as was reported, after contributing to our relegation season?!

Sure, Craig wanted premiership football, so all he had to do was play by the rules versus Wolves and stay on both feet instead of looking for an undeserved free kick.  He tried it again versus Tottenham on the last day of the season, but the point is Craig, ya' stay on the field and we might have got all 3 points versus Wolves.  Duh!

If I were Craig and a genuine Blues fan I would have stayed to fight for the Blues cause in the Championship;  looked forward to playing in Europe which are the spoils of the League Cup win;  and ultimately a triumphant return to the Premiership next May with the team he apparently loves. However, all the poor bugger has now is the equally negative Steve Bruce to look forward to, and what I anticipate to be Sunderland's relegation in either of the next two seasons. Sunderland in Europe?  You're having a larff Craig my son.

To rub salt in the wounds I also predict that Blues will have no problems in dispatching Sunderland next time they meet . . . . perhaps this coming season in one of the two domestic trophy competitions?  We'll see.

By the way, go here to read what Craig's feelings were about the Villa back in 2007.  Check out the seventh paragraph, LOL.

In regards to the other players wanting to leave, I just hope that once they meet and see Chris Hughton at work they'll see that attacking football will take Birmingham City places.  Some players will have to go to get their huge Premiership wages off the Championship club's expense sheet, but I trust that Chris Hughton will bring in some fresh young talent and make a serious challenge for one of the top two spots.  He's been there and done that already.

Burke and Gomis were astute finds by McLeish in my opinion.  King knows where the net is, and if he behaves we can ask no more of him.  Rooney too looks like a good acquisition, but like any free-scoring forward they're going to need service from midfield.

It's unlikely, but perhaps Michel can be persuaded to return, and play for a 'proper' team?

There is a lot of press speculation going around in regard to Carson's ability to keep Birmingham City on a steady financial keel, but rather than join the doom and gloom crowd lined up on Clifton Suspension bridge, I prefer to wait and see what transpires.  Besides, have you seen the Avon at low tide?  It's nothing but soddin' mud mate!

So how did a team that can't score goals and was relegated, manage to get to Wembley and then beat the mighty Arsenal in the final?

In contrast to the Premiership's thirty eight games, we only had to get through five rounds to get to Wembley. We scraped through the early rounds somewhat, but rather than McLeish's attacking nous getting us to Wembley versus the Vile and the 'Ammers, I believe the Blues players saw that this was their one chance and stepped up their game as needed.  Pity they couldn't muster a bit more in the Premiership.

Anyway, McLeish did get it right tactically in the League Cup final, but I've not seen any comments whatsoever about the 'construction' of our first goal by Zigic.  By that I believe that it was an intentional tactic to put the ball on Roger's head on the edge of the box, and from there any kind of flick-on by Zigic would test the Arsenal defence. And so it did!

On August the 6th at 3 pm, it all starts again at Derby.  McLeish has gone to replaced by a better manager, but will Chris suffer the same disease contracted by Alex from Steve Bruce's office chair?  Let's hope not.

The League Cup win left us all in a euphoric state, but then the 'unexpected' relegation was yet another boot in the ribs . . . and why the one line of 'Keep Right On' should be officially changed to 'There will be a joy, and sorrows too'.

That said, and because McLeish has gone, the spring in my step is back and I happily look forward to another season.  Bring on the blue joy.

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


March 1st, 2011


  League Cup final result: Blues 2 Arsenal 1, but yeh, you knew that already.

Cripes, what a contrast in fortunes since my last dissertation two months ago.  Well, as the club song so aptly states, 'There will be joys and sorrows too".

Of course we Blues fans are well accustomed to the sorrows, but when joys come along once in a while, then crikey! There is no better feeling is there?

OK, so before going on, let's go back a few decades . . . . my own long and winding road following Blues since 1964 has been littered with joys and sorrows just like everyone else with a blue heart, but even after the worst of defeats, there has always been the hope, usually forlorn, that the next game will be the turning point.

In that respect I often think of the Liverpool team as it was through to the early sixties, who in many respects were a club just like us. Then along comes Bill Shankly and there follows a succession of trophies scanning the next five decades.  That is just the corner I have been hoping we would turn for so long. So, is this it?

In January and February we lost 3-0 to Arsenal, then 5-0 to Manchester United, and 2-0 to Newcastle United which actually hurt me the most.  That sounds pretty dire, but if you take a look at our other results we were undefeated in the remaining Prem fixtures, FA Cup and League Cup. In a nutshell it appears we have been able to pull out a win when it really matters, and go where no where no Blues team - not since Moses anyway - has gone before.

To show you how much of a pitiful individual I am, I found myself as pleased as punch just to have made the League Cup final this year even if it meant losing it.  In fact it felt better than 2001 when we 'lost' to Liverpool. Blame that bloody Shankly fella! 

So, no matter that Arsenal are far superior and beat us 3-0 at St. Andrews recently, lets enjoy the day out and at the very least make a good account of ourselves.

Then the players go and bollix things up.  The applecart got tipped over, the milk was spilt, and the underdog - a common breed in my lifetime - is at least for the moment the top dog. Take a bow-wow Beau Brummie!

The twin towers of Wembley are just a memory and have been replaced by that white arch thingy.  But wait, that's no dull, white arch, it's a rainbow!  A Birmingham City rainbow no less!

So out strutted the Arsenal team to take the first of their four trophies this season, and with them, shoulder to shoulder, our Birmingham City heroes. Or as the Arsenal brethren might prefer to describe us, the 'unwashed'.

The early exchanges of the game belied the fact that something pretty special was going to happen that day. Arsenal had most of the possession, and Blues broke with fervour whenever they could. In fact, playing high up the field brought its rewards with a few near misses, and what if that linesman's blunder in minute three could have been overturned by a quick video review?  Surely such technology will be a part of the game in the near future, what.

So we score first, and Arsenal equalise. We live in hope, but we know full well it's only a matter of time before Arsenal take their first trophy of the season, right our kid?  Hang on though, we're playing well, and we've got one thing that the Arsenal fans and players have no need of . . . . hope.

So we continue to match them across the park, and make the Arsenal players earn their right to advance even a yard on the Wembley turf.  Then, in minute 89 disaster strikes.

This time it's not a Fulham/1975 type of disaster that inflicts Blues, but a fully deserved blunder by the Arsenal defence.  'Fully deserved?' I hear you say.  Yeh, think back to minute 3 will ya' . . . Bowyer times his run to perfection, then is brought down the box. Offside, oh yeh, right. So, moving on, lets get back to 'fully deserved' shall we?

The defender decides to let his keeper take the ball, and the keeper's right knee does the rest. The ball runs to Martins who has time to compose half a dozen Nigerian 419 email scams before putting the ball into the Arsenal net.

Yeeeeessssss!  Birmingham City are the 2011 League Cup winners and have their first major trophy since 1963. "Golly, but that was during the last millennium Dad"  Yes son, but it was worth the wait.

So life returns to normal except that 40,000 Birmingham City fans have a bit of a spring in their step.

I turn on my computer, check my email and I have some spam that purports to come from one Bill Shankly.  Well, maybe so because it reads, "Football is not about life and death, it's more important than that".

That's a shame cuz I was hoping that the billion dollar funds transfer from Nigeria was in my account by now.  Then again, who needs the cash because Birmingham City, my Birmingham City, have just won a bone-fide trophy.

This is blue heaven indeed, and it's something money just can't buy.

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


January 1st, 2011


  Today's result was Blues 0 Arsenal 3, but you already knew that.

Since August, the blue boys have trotted out onto the field while the likes of us supporters have shown up at games in rain sleet and snow, maybe even some sun, while others of us have reached over and turned on the telly. Some of the latter did so after their alarm went off at 2, or 3 or 4 am in the morning, me included while in New Zealand recently, only to be rewarded with the same old drivel in the guise of negative tactics.

It wouldn't be so bad if we had some attacking zeal about us, but we don't.  We most certainly don't!

I'm not one to jump on the back of particular players, but in some cases if it ain't happening and they ain't delivering after 5 months of the season, it's time to make changes. Nay, hang on, it was time to make changes long before this.

However, Alex isn't getting it is he? 

Cameron Jerome is unable to come up with the goods, so why not give Derbyshire a run?  Phillips?  O'Connor? . . . oh, hang on, aren't we selling him to Barnsley?  Week after week our beloved coach/manager, and we Blues supporters too, hope that Cammy comes good.  But, after a few seasons in the Prem he's not the forward that is going to take Birmingham City forward now is he?  Maybe the problem lies with the playing system?  Either way, it's time to bring in a 'proper' goalscorer.

OK, moving on with my rant . . .

It wasn't Alex's fault that Zigic reacted like a deer in the headlights when he hit the Premiership playing surfaces - unless someone didn't do their homework - but at least there are signs he could make an impact in a season or two.  Come back Geoff Horsefield!

Arsenal didn't have a 'big guy' up front today, and in all reality we don't need one either. So, that brings me to Kevin Phillips. It appears that he isn't played for 90 minutes each week because 'he doesn't have the legs' . . . #%*@^#!!!!!!  [You get my drift]

Ryan Giggs popped into St. Andrews the other day and put in a full day's work.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't Ryan and Kev belong to the same OAP club? In other words, if you're good enough you're not too old.

Sure, that's an expression gleaned from, "If you're good enough, you're old enough" which brings me to Nathan Redmond. He's listed on the official Blues site as a midfielder, but whatever he is, midfielder or left winger, he is good enough despite his age!  He proved such in a couple of cameo appearances for the first team, but he has not been used since.

Dear Alex, please note that the current team is crying out for someone of his tenacity, daring, speed and directness.

Beausejour is of the same ilk, but is playing in a 'system' that dims what could be, bright lights.  McFadden has suffered similarly, and others before them.  Perhaps that same 'system' brings out the worst in Jerome too?  You decide.

How about team rotation?  At this time of the year when there are two games a week it would be a good time bring on the so-called fringe players.  Michel for instance, is [was?] apparently being groomed to replace Ferguson, but does he get any playing time? No siree Bobby.

Ferguson controls everything in front of the back four, but from what I've seen of his few appearances, so does Michel. He also has an eye for a telling through ball for forwards to latch onto in his armory.

Sorry, but in my opinion there is a distinct lack of intelligence at play if you don't use the tools at your disposal.

The same applies to Hleb. He's almost 100% fit now and must be given a regular run in place of Larsson who looks like he may be leaving us soon.  Unfit Hleb was a liability, but fit he's a weapon as are Phillips, Redmond and Michel etcetera.  Of course, they're weapons if you have an attacking football team.

In case you weren't aware, players such as Asante, Jarvis, Mutch, Jiranek, Murphy, Parnaby, Valles and O'Shea . . . some of them out on loan and destined to join other clubs eventually, or rotting an awful distance from the substitutes bench. It's just so very wasteful and unnecessary in my opinion.

I love the effort and skill put in by Carr, Bowyer, and Ferguson, but their time is coming to an end and the likes of Gardner, Dann, Johnson, Ridgewell, Fahey and Foster etcetera are our way forward . . . . plus the aforementioned players above.

Unfortunately it's my opinion that our Alex has caught the 'Steve Bruce disease' from the office chair, and plays it safe until we are a goal or two down. Seriously, how pathetic is that, and have the likes of Wenger and Ferguson ever coached in that manner?!

It's time, no, hang on, it was 'time' way back when, to 'grab the bull by the horns' and have a go. We have a good defence, so let's push up the field and let the opposition do the worrying for a change.

We long-suffering telly watchers and foul weather endurers deserve better . . . we deserve much better Alex, and so do the players.

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


December 15th, 2009


  Just as it says on the box, yep, I had a dream and it was a doozy [how is that spelt anyway?]. Before I start though I'll pour a cuppa and grab a few Digestives . . .

OK then, it all started back in 1964 . . . you know, that proverbial 'stormy night when the curtains were drawn but the furniture was real'.

I nodded off and soon found myself on the Tilton for the very first time. It was quite a scene with 130,000 Blues fans baying for Chelsea blood, OK, say 19,000, but it was the Blues that bled to the tune of a 6-1 reversal that dark November day. However, this was a dream, and if I could just stay asleep things would get better. Right?

As I snoozed the Blues went though relegations and promotions, y'know, three relegations for every promotion, and then the Almighty Go . . . erm, Trevor Francis shows up . . . and Kenny Burns, and Bob Latchford, and Freddie Goodwin et al. Surely now my dreams would all come true!

Hagn on, I just dorpepd some Diesgtvie crubms on the kybeoard . . .

As you know, some dreams eventually turn into nightmares as when Trevor and co. left for greener pastures, much greener. Still, I dreamt on with the thought that in the next ten minutes, or the next game, even the next season things would change for the better. They never did. The dreams were great, but it got to where I hated waking up to face the reality of Birmingham City.

Just getting some more tea . . .

Dreaming on as one does, there were various glimmers of hope in the 70's, 80's and 90's, but also a first ever trip into the depths of the old Third Division. But get this! I'm not dreaming when I tell you that the club actually made two trips to Wembley in the 90's and it wasn't in the guise of British Road Services to deliver stuff! We won there twice in what are considered by those that don't dream like I do as 'Mickey Mouse' Cups. Bloody cheek! [I have several Mickey Mouse mugs that I drink tea and coffee from each every day]

Then all of a sudden am I still dreaming? . . . the Almighty Go . . . yeh, Trev again, came back and got us playing good footy but never quite making it to the promised land. Still I kept on dreaming, and dreaming and dreaming.

Then Steve Bruce took most of Trev's team and got them into the Prem at long, long last. Now the serious dreaming really started! . . . but soon it was wake-up time down at St. Andys again, and I retreated to my warm cotton sheets for comfort. All I got from my dreams were two more relegations and one promotion, no, two promotions!

The tea is all gone so just hold for a mo while I go and get a glass of Cab. [Did I mention I'm real slow when it comes to this stuff?] . . .

I've just checked the calendar and that second promotion means that we're now up to this season in this story. Sorry, I meant dream.

So there I am dreaming that we'd be a Prem team for a few seasons, and not daring to ask for more. At least I'd be able to get all the games on either my TV or laptop. But, beyond that selfish motive is the boyhood dream of a successful Birmingham City measured by where the fan sitting next to you is from. Nechells? Malvern? London? Germany? China? Hey, if it works for Manchester United, just maybe the Blues can be just as superficial? Well, that's not my dream, but you know what I mean perhaps?

Mmmmmm, this Cab is good . . .

So as I dream away and we're sitting at 6th in the Premiership for a day, I continue to dream. I dream that January comes around and Big Eck brings in some midfield creativity, cover for various positions, and unearths a predator around the box who is able to convert 50% of his chances, not 10% as we've become accustomed to. Don't get me wrong, I want our incumbents to succeed but we're talking decades of broken dreams here, and I'd like at least one dream to come true before I wake up dead.

Or am I still dreaming?

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


November 17th, 2009


  Has the tide turned?  Will the Bull Ring be torn down and rebuilt for the third time in my life?  Are Birmingham City Football Club going to win a major trophy in the next 10 years?

Yes, no and yes!

The number 1875 doesn't represent 7:15 pm, but the year in which our our beloved Birmingham City, nee Small Heath Alliance, was invented, formed, or maybe just started to exist. On the face of things, existing is all we've done since then, and my mates at that first game in 1875 will attest to that. OK, that last bit was a fib . . . I have no mates young or ancient.

We've been pretty much complete failures during those 134 years, i.e. lots of sorrows, but along the way enjoying joys too when we've taken on the 'big boys' and won. As we're supporters of a team that is trophy-less no-one can accuse any of us of being glory hunters now can they? We just keep right on to the end of the road and all that, but I ask, where is the end of the bloody road?!

There have been many false dawns since my heart became solid blue in 1964, but this one is very different I'm glad to say.

The last owners not only 'got us sorted', but also stunted our growth, and 15 years on it's a relief to see them gone. Yeung and company are a breathe of fresh air, and are doing everything right thus far. Not bad for a group of people who as far from the Brummie culture as caviar is from mushy peas.

McLeish has got the team playing for their futures these last three games with a win against Sunderland, and creditable draws against the illustrious Premiership opposition of Manchester City and Liverpool. Yeh, OK, we 'won' at Liverpool in a moral sense there is no doubt.

Crisp passing, an attacking line-up, players closing the opposition down and stepping things up just to make sure they are still a part of things come the end of January. I ask them however, where were you August to October?

I give a huge warm welcome to our new owners. They are businessmen first, but appear to share the blue mist before our eyes. Should the end of the road end up at the Great Wall of China via a few trophies, then I will applaud and say 谢谢您 [thank you!].

We'll probably be joined by more than a few thousand Chinese folk, so be prepared to to say good bye to St. Andrews and hello to a new stadium and some very exciting times.

Keep right on!  保持正确的!

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


September 19th, 2009


  . . . and the season so far.

Against Hull, and perhaps for the first time this season, the Blues looked like an attacking force, not just a defensive one.

Admittedly this is Hull we're talking about, who look as if their slippery slope is getting greasier by the week, but the Blue boys still had to get out there and get the job done.

Perhaps 1-0 doesn't sound too convincing to some, so may I direct your attention to the string of brilliant saves made by the hull keeper Myhill? OK, now you have the picture.

This is [almost] the same team that struggled to put together a decent performance all of last season, and the pre-season didn't look too convincing either. But, here we are a few weeks into the season and the three 1-0 defeats were against the league's better teams during which we played some good constructive football. Let's not go into the Villa details though, eh?!

Looking at the team from the back, Maik Taylor was pretty much aged to perfection, but it was time to bring in a new big cheese, Joe Hart. Some juries are still out on Joe, but he's one for the future and hasn't let us down thus far.

The back four is suddenly one of the strongest in the league due to Big Eck's transfer diligence and speed. Johnson, Vignal and Dann are all excellent acquisitions with Espinoza yet to get his real chance. He might not as there is competition from the excellent if slow Le Frankie, the evergreen Carr, Parnaby, and the returning Ridgewell. Some can't see past the Ridge's Villa connections, but he's an excellent defender that doesn't shirk his duties.

Bringing in Ferguson to boss the midfield was an obvious choice, but he has been well supported by Fahey, Tainio, Larsson and the excellent Bowyer.

FRANCIS, DUGARRY and now . . .
Up front we've lacked a cutting edge for some time, but it looks as if it's now emerging in the form of one Christian Benitez, nay 'Chucho'

We'd all have liked to have seen him get 90 minutes sooner, but he wasn't 100% fit early on, and there are some adjustments to the Premiership to be made. You can see him 'adjusting' by the minute, as he learns how to avoid being pushed around.

I do hope we can get the ball to Chucho on the ground, because when he can turn and face a defender with the ball at his feet, they are in a heap of trouble. For instance, only great saves by Myhill on Saturday prevented a couple of Chucho goals.

So who will provide the nod downs for him, O'Connor or Jerome? I'd prefer to see more attempts at slide rule passes from Fahey and Larsson to Chucho's feet, so either way the remainder of this season is gonna be interesting.

I felt we should have sold McSheffrey, but looking at his sharpness and near misses around the penalty area is a reminder that he has been wasted out on the left all these years. Let him free to do what he did for Coventry, and he'll come good. But will he get the chance.

Ditto with McFadden. Put him up behind the strikers instead of wide left and he'll hold up the ball intelligently, and thereby creating space for others. He has the guile and ability to knock in surprise goals. Let's hope he's played in his best position then.

So, from a lousy and somewhat lucky championship team to a Premiership outfit looking like it could go places. Well done Big Eck and company.

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


December 13th, 2008


  Tactics, tactics, tactics. For 89 minutes McLeish got it right, but then . . . . well, I'll come back to that later.

It looked 'practical' to me, and it was good to see the inclusion of Quincy again because when he has the ball he's moving it up-field, and the opposition is left to chase. McLeish said as much during the week, so all was well when we kicked off.

Perhaps it was the first [and only?] rendition of 'Keep Right On' as early as the 3rd minute that did the trick, but our team was in there competing, winning 50-50 tackles, and making Preston work harder than they're used to.
We were a threat going forward which is always good to see, but ya' gotta put the ball in the net to win games. Just ask Plymouth Argyle.

I rate Murphy as a defender, but when he was put through on the keeper he skewed his shot onto the promenade in distant Blackpool. Overall though we looked sharper, passed well, and looked the better team.
Ridgewell was booked going in for a 50-50, and which looked far worse than it was, but when he was hacked down by a Preston man . . . nothing. Fans everywhere ask for consistency with refereeing decisions nothing more. TV replays wouldn't go amiss either, and then I can catch up on all those episodes of 'Crossroads' I missed.

Oh talking of Ridgewell, some see him as 'agent' Ridgewell because of his association with the Villa and his mistakes. Tell me though, who doesn't make mistakes?, but tell me too, who gets involved in our defence more than Ridgewell?

We began to ask [more] questions of the Preston defence, but with Jerome on to add power and pace to the attack it was Philips who did everything right with a near post header only to be denied by an agile save by the Preston keeper.

It was end to end stuff with Blues putting multiple passes together in crisp fashion, while Taylor had to be alert to smother the ball at substitute Parkin's feet.

But, as the game wore on so did the groans as free kicks and corners failed to reach their intended recipients . . . which is a flowery way of saying they were totally crap deliveries from professionals who spend all week practicing these things.

Then in something like the 89th minute, and a point looking like just rewards against a difficult team, Big Eck put on Agustien. Let me fill you in with the fact that my American woman was watching her first full English league footy game, so I explained that the it looked like Big Eck was going after 3 points and would probably take off someone such as Murphy, and throw on another attacker.

However, the unlucky short-straw-puller turned out to be our most effective ball carrier, Quincy. Oh, so what the hell is this I thinks to mesen?! Thoughts running through my head at that moment were . . .

1 Quincy asked to come off as he was tired.
2 The substitution burns time off the clock [ooh, I'm sounding Yankee now!]
3 I need a beer.
4 Why is she asking so many damn questions?
5 Big Eck is shoring up the middle of the park to keep the point we have, and . . .
6 Why not keep Quincy on and go after 3 points?!

We all know what happened next . . . Agustien fluffed and had his confidence knocked into next season, Ridgewell turned out to be 2 inches shorter than what we needed when the cross floated over his head [leave it], and Preston's 'Beast' poked the ball home. In the words of Pete Townshend it was time to 'say goodbye to the brilliant Blues.'

Next time the Blues are on TV over here in Yankee land I'm gonna watch 4 episodes of 'Crossroads' from my DVD collection instead. Bugger!

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.

March 17th, 2008


  The point won moves us up the table, and although we started well, it was all very tense in the end. Here's my perspectives from this game as provided by the my Black and Decker TV, a signal bouncing off a piece of foil on Neptune, and Arthur Baldwin pushing buttons on Goonhilly Down in Cornwall.

McFadden's missus wasn't up to having more kiddie-poos over the weekend, so back into the starting line-up went he, with Zarate moving to the bench.

The first half went as we had all hoped it would, with Blues controlling the game and going in front via an astute piece of left peg work by McFadden.

What a terrific signing McFadden is. He was head and shoulders above the other 21 players on the field in the first half, oozed class, was cool under pressure, and gave the Newcastle defence a torrid time. His goal made Faye look decidedly pathetic. Some think he is anyway.

So there we were on cruise control and likely to score a second at any time, when Larsson got crocked . . . by Nicky Butthead I believe. Seb didn't return for the second half and we lost our shape.

We went from "Coursing with desire" to coursing with fear. Well kinda anyway.

If we won the first half, then it was Newcastle who won the second. Yes, we're a much better football team these days, and can spray it around a bit, but you could see Aitken and McLeish on the touchline trying to come up with a formula to put the fire back in blue hearts.

Personally I was sorta hoping that Zarate would replace Seb, but McLeish knows better and played 'safe' with the introduction of Parnaby. Jerome came on got the crowd back in it, then Zarate joined the fray. I seem to recall he only had the ball on the floor once, and although beating defenders easily, shot wide from distance.

Pretty much all of them with the exception of McSheffrey on the face of it. He tried hard, but didn't get the rub of the green tonight . . . he needed that little bit of Irish luck to make an impact.

Of particular note were the back four of Kelly, Jaidi, Ridgewell and Murphy. They do need to anticipate a rebound from Maik Taylor when opposing forwards get a shot in though. The same happened against Portsmouth, so just keep moving boys! The Newcastle goal was somewhat opportunistic, and no one player can be singled out as having given Owen an easy route to goal.

Johnson plugged away industriously in midfield as always, but it would be nice to see Nafti given the opportunity of filling that role now and again. I suggest this as the Tunisian seems to have more of an eye for a defence splitting pass. Something we've lacked since the loss of Dunn and Kilkenny.

Forssell to my mind looked off the pace tonight, but he'll be back. Perhaps Zarate could have have replaced him earlier in the game?

On the face of it, if the Geordie kit designer had have gotten rid of those cumbersome black stripes, things might have been much worse for us.

The points we lost tonight will be re-gained at Reading on the weekend, so all will be well in our blue world!

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


March 12th, 2008


  Lost 4-2?! . . . yer havin' a laff. The team continues to improve, but we won't be home and dry for a while. Here's what I thought of what transpired via my magic picture box. . .

Zarate was in as McFadden had just had a baby. Must say his figure is still good from what I saw when he came on loike. OK, so now we'd see what Zarate is capable of for a sustained period of time as he obviously is a great talent.

I watched closely as 'appy 'Arry handed out brown paper parcels near the Blues dugout, and Big Mac appeared to be admiring a new Rolex at the end of the game. 'Ere! Do you think there's a connection?!

So, two down in the first 10 minutes and we're about to be sent into oblivion. Thing is, this is not a Steve Bruce team any more thank goodness.

If I've noticed one thing about these players of late, it's their increase in self confidence. McLeish has publicly stated that that is where it starts. Look at McSheffrey. He's starting to get involved like we knew he could, and before long he's going to knock in a goal or two.

Referees either have to penalise every conceivable handball in the penalty area, including all of those made all the Villa keepers, or discern between ball to hand, and hand to ball. Murphy's was ball to hand. So was the Portsmouth defender's in the second half which the ref missed. Portsmouth should have had another when Ridge took out Baros anyway.

From where I was sitting I thought our defence enjoyed watching the save Taylor made from Muntari. So, I changed chairs, replayed the action in slow mo, and it still looked that way . . . none of our defenders anticipated a parried shot, and the Pompey player who did showed us how it's done. 2-0.

The Blues showed great character in getting back into the game, and it's something we've not seen much of in recent years. Was it the coaching I wonder? Well done to Muamba for your first Blues goal, and to that little blonde blue-hearted machine Larsson.

What's all this crap about it being Ridgewell's fault? He had players in front of him who unexpectedly missed the ball, and thus it hit him on the thigh. Lucky bounce for a Portsmouth forward and it's 3-2. In any case, it should have been Taylor's ball. Is Nigel Spink coaching at Blues again?

Jaidi was a monster for most of the game, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, but it was he who passed to a player in cover, and he who didn't track Kanu on the blind side. Oh well, one could always blame Ridgewell.
Talking of Ridgewell and his apparent blunders, he'll stay in the team because I reckon that McLeish sees things in a balanced light and doesn't listen to the skewed opinions of the few. Those folk do Birmingham City Football Club and players no favours at all.

He's far more talented than most, but as yet he's not a team player, and it shows. But, have you noticed how he can bring the ball out of defence to the opposition box with defenders afraid to tackle in case he gives them the slip? You have?! OK, we're talking a very good ATTACKING MIDFIELDER here.

'Dear Big Mac, I have an idea . . . why not try Zarate in an attacking midfield role? Thanks for listening. Love, John [and 50,000 other Blues fans I suppose]

Oh dear, it was bad to be honest, and probably a lot less 'innocent' than Tiny's misjudgment. Without a break involved it doesn't warrant more media attention as they want glitz. Dear oh dear.

Not that the first was bad, but we pretty much controlled Pompey the probable FA Cup winners. Please note that we've also done a nice number on the current League Cup winners, wink, wink, know wot I mean guvnor! What was that geezer's name again? Steve Brown or somebody or other?

The players looked fit, capable, tenacious and confident. What more does one need besides goals? Well done Alex McLeish for a job well done thus far.

The number 8 bus doesn't go to oblivion anyway. It just keeps coming back at ya'!

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


March 1st, 2008


  Here's what I observed through my big telescope this week as we put a 7th goal past the England Goalkeeper this season . . .

We looked like a decent team for most of the match, and despite our lowly league position looked more like a mid to upper-mid position Prem team for much of the match. We're now unbeaten in 4, so that sounds about right.

Along with that 4 game unbeaten run, we've also prevented Arsenal from taking an additional 4 points of late, and done the double over the League Cup winners.

OK, so before I start wetting mesen, let's work from the back . . .

Taylor did little or nothing wrong between the sticks. It seems that a change of keeper coach has really improved Taylor's game as he now picks more crosses out of the air than I'm used to seeing from him.

Talking of conspiracies, that ex Aston Vile keeper and coach, Nigel Stink, must have been on an Aston Villa salary until he left recently. I think we were being conned.

Kelly and Murphy, just awesome - sorry about the Americanism - plus Jaidi and Ridgewell also shone. OK, so the Ridge gave the ball away just over the half way line, but that's hardly a defensive blunder. At the back he is cultured, and is a 'little giant' as he frequently wins balls in the air. He also had a hand in our first goal from McSheffrey's corner by the way.

Johnson motored and motored, Muamba motored and gave the ball away too often, McSheffrey was improvement on his Prem self, and Larsson did all the things we expect of him and more. Oh yeh, right, he also scored a beauty of a free kick.

Muamba is in his first Prem season, so he will only get better in terms of composure on the ball, and Johnson, as his seasons wane, almost repeated his goal against Robinson when getting our first Prem win in 2002. McSheff I can only hope is on his way back. I think he's become a bit of an enigma, but I'll let you know about that once I've looked up the word in the dictionary.

Oh my giddy [Aunt]! We, ahem, McLeish could be on to something here! As much as I'd like to see Deridder and Zarate used more, I thought that McFadden and the Forss worked well together. We as a Club and set of fans are possibly about to be rewarded with the Forss of old it seems. What's that? He's signing for Stoke City in the summer you say?!

Parnaby acquitted himself well as did Jerome, but that Zarate fella, well, he's a bloody genius! His value has been estimated at 20 million quid, so I can only assume that Big Mac prefers to work mostly with the players he knows he WILL have come next mid-August. But my McFriend, Zarate has stated that he appreciates the Premiership chance given to him by Birmingham City, and would love to give the Club fist dibs when the season is over. That said, should we go after him, can we afford him, and where would he slot into the scheme of things? He's too damn talented to leave on the bench every week! Zárate, por favor no te vayas!

Having my Welsh inclinations [leave it], I was pleased to see the tartan one wearing a Daffodil during the game. In case you hadn't realised, it was St. David's Day on Saturday!

In my opinion Big Mac is the signing of the season, and if we can keep him, I can see us doing very nicely next season thank you very much!

Tell me, when the ball breaks from defence, have you noticed how comfortable he is on the ball, how infrequently he loses it, and how the opposing defenders stand off him? This guy is a class act, a canny laddie, and is starting to fill the role that McLeish had him earmarked for. I don't care what anybody says, he's worth every penny of the transfer fee, plus a can of Irn Bru and Scotch Pie and beans. Mmmmm.

By the way, if anyone disagrees I'll break yer legs Jumma! [phrase copyright of Roger Hynd, circa 1972]

Playing in their away strip of all yellow - see the connection now? - they were dominated by the boys in blue. I rate Berbatov, but no team wants to carry a prima donna who sucks his thumb at the slightest adversity. Thing is though, we contributed greatly in making Spurs look very juvenile is so many ways on Saturday, and I'm sure I'm only one voice to say, long may it continue.

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


February 23rd, 2008


  Here's what I observed through my big telescope . . .

Mistimed but NOT malicious.

If you think he doesn't add something to this team then you're wrong, and I'm not talking about his goals yesterday. He's skillful, holds the ball up while the midfield catches up, wins free kicks, and is likely to score from anywhere. Too many misplaced passes at times though.

It has to be Nafti now as he's quicker, has more of an eye for a defence splitting pass, and is able to harass more than Jonty.

His 'on the job training' is starting to show dividends. He's not the finished article, but he has youth on his side, and we've needed that kind of midfield speed for several seasons now.

I've long been in Mikael's camp [leave it], but Zarate offers more options, and is likely to score some point winning goals before the season is done . . . or at least create them. He's also a useful free kick taker.
It was unfortunate that Mikael had to come off when we went down to ten men, but what was with those bags under his eyes? Had he just come straight from Tesco?

Has taken a lot of stick on in some quarters for not scoring more frequently, but he has good control, and tires the defence . . . . theirs not ours. Will he be back d'ya think?

That Arsenal fella at right back with the fancy lampshade on his head.

Flamini's pontifications, and Senderos' cheating. Arsene Wenger is renamed Arsene Wanger for his comments about Taylor. He has since retracted them, but as we all know had Taylor done that as an Arsenal player Wanger would have commented, "I didn't see it." Wanger = Monsieur le Toss grande.

Getting better all the time.

That's how many points we've denied Arsenal in the last 6 weeks. How many Clubs can say that?

The number of Blues players Arsenal couldn't get past over 90 minutes. A sterling display by Birmingham City!

Surely the players have gained confidence with both Arsenal results, and the point at West ham etcetera. Can we kick on and pull away from the drop zone?

YES, I believe we can, and McLeish is just the man to guide us onwards.

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


January 22nd, 2008


  At last, the sea of apathy on which we have sailed at St, Andrews for a number of seasons is now stirring, and waves are starting to be made at the Club. The Captain who was afraid to raise the sails has departed, thankfully, and the new Captain can see that we need to have those same sails hoisted if we are to get anywhere.

First off though, what went wrong?

When Steve Bruce came in he was a breath of fresh air, and he was not afraid to take chances. But after immediate promotion, to the delight of all us Brummies I should add, our first Premiership season was followed by more and more negativity in terms of tactics.

It wasn't about winning, but about not losing, and the team went very, very stale. We were relegated, and very, very fortunate to get promoted at the first attempt. It helped that we had more money to spend than all the other clubs, and we were now the big fish in the little pond instead of the opposite.

Somehow we made it back to the Premiership despite inept tactics, and team selection. Phew!

So last August we once again set sail on the Premiership sea, but despite promises to the contrary, and statements of 'I've learnt my lessons', we were once again adrift and in fear of sinking yet again.

Somehow Carson Yeung's attempt to buy the Club brought on the demise of our hapless Captain, for money, not love, and our Brucie was on his way to to paradise. Well, to Wigan anyway.

It was a miracle!, and one I did not expect. But, I knew right away that this was for the good of Birmingham City regardless of who might take over the ship. The fact that we now have one of Europe's best at the helm in Alex McLeish is yet another miracle!

The Blues are going to be a challenge and Alex knows that, but should he succeed he'll have proven his worth yet again.

McLeish has had a difficult few weeks in having to deal with someone else's players, but worse still, the mentality instilled into those same players by the previous Captain. Since the transfer window opened three quality signings have be made in the form of Murphy, McFadden and Zarate. More will follow, and just as many will leave the Club because McLeish is realistic enough to see the limits of achievement among those players.

I personally wish them well, as it wasn't their fault that Steve Bruce didn't know what he was doing. Mmmm, where have I heard that before?!

Nova Scotia in northeast Canada has an icon of a sailing ship that I have been fortunate to photograph on my travels. It's called the 'Bluenose', and when in full sail it's a sight to see. Perhaps the next beautiful sight to see will be Birmingham City sailing on strongly in the Premiership. We've only been waiting since 1875!

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


September 8th, 2006


  Four years ago we were in Cardiff to clinch promotion to the ‘promised land’, and now two weeks have gone by since we were back in that leek-ridden city to be creamed by Cardiff City FC . . . isn’t it.

For a moment though let’s look at our Premiership years. OK, that didn’t take long now did it? Yep, teams loaded with utility players, others out of position or unfit, and tactics that reflected an attitude of defend first, attack later.

A couple of seasons ago the real rot steadily set in, and we fans mostly put it down to the quality of the Prem opposition. So, Mr. Bruce goes out and adds more ‘proven quality’ to the squad, and we had what was termed at the time as the best Blues squad ever. OK, good, let’s get these lads down to Wast Hills and make a football team out of ‘em!

Sure, we were hit by some long term injuries, yada, yada, yada, but what about the tactics? What went on at Wast Hills? If you watched the Blues week in, week out last season you’d have to conclude . . . nowt. Woeful free kicks and corners much of the time, and a team that was the least fit in the division. That little Irish imp Kenny Cunningham was right.

The official response during the summer was that the team will be fit, and hit the ground running, yada, yada, yada. Quality forwards were signed who happen to know where the goal is, but something has been missing thus far . . . sorry, I meant to say, as usual. Who is threading the ball forward to these goal-scoring blokes on a regular basis? Sure, David Dunn, and occasionally Nafti, but as he’s a defensive midfielder he probably gets shouted down in Geordie-Tunisian for having the audacity to take an attacking risk. Danns did just that, and he’s now another Birmingham City bystander. Same goes for Kilkenny I guess.

Yep, it’s time for Mr. Bruce to do some managerial growing up as January ain’t the best time to be puttering about in the garden. Y’know though, if I’d have played under Alex Ferguson I’d have taken note of everything about his teams, starting with tactics . . . especially when it comes to creating and scoring goals. [Gee, there’s that risky ‘goal’ word again!] I’d even pick up the phone once in a while and get his opinion on how I’m doing. Love or hate Mr. McFerguson, he knows how to put teams together that can score goals. Oops!, there I go again!

Anyway, now let’s look at the Birmingham City sides of the last couple of years. Yep, lot’s of potential, but the box still has the lid on. Let them out for gawd’s sake! Footy is about goals, and goals win games yada, yada, yada.

If you take a look around every single Birmingham City fan forum today, you’ll see that nearly 100% of the fans saying the same thing, i.e., the tactics are too defensive minded, and team selection baffling.

Are you listening Mr. Bruce?

You can do one of two things, i.e., open the box or take your contract money and run.

John Baker of Blues Muse is undoubtedly . . . Beyond the Far Post

Got comments, thoughts, suggestions or even abuse? Please e-mail me.


All content is strict copyright John Baker Photographer LLC/

  Home Introduction Beyond the Far Post Match Photographs Index
  Last Game My Blues Story Goofy Headlines Player Montages
  Next Game Contact Goofy Graphics A Day In The Life . . .
  Blues Results Blues Links 1960s Autographs  
  League Table Blues Muse Opinion + News    
The entire content of this web-site is strict copyright John Baker Photographer LLC/, and is protected by United States and International copyright laws. Images may not in any part or whole, be copied, reproduced, altered, stored or transmitted without the express permission of the copyright owner. No images within this web-site are within the public domain.