Are we insane yet? Endlessly checking your phones for news on Wolves. Bumping into things, the Missus talking to you and you can’t tear your eyes away from that Neves pass to Cavaleiro. ‘Yeah I’m listening for fucks sake’ we say. But the outside of that right foot has become the full Kelly Brook thing and we hear Beethoven or Elgar. At least Ed Elgar was a Wolf. I can’t eat properly. I’m staring at the moon outside in the frost cold and thinking about it all. There is a darkness out there. Underneath the silvery glitter of frost and stillness. It’s something that mars the memories of the last week watching us dismantle Leeds and Bolton. Like little cracked finders pawing at the mind muddying the waters. An unease. Yes. Birmingham City. The Lulus.
Normally I would start waxing some half baked rant about the next match and opposition but now standing outside all I feel is an abyss of idea. Birmingham City leech the creative forces out of me. They suck the joy from me. West Bromwich Albion are comical and funny, clowns and the objects of intensely funny humour due to their inherent shitness. But City aren’t funny at all. They are psychic vampires sucking any joy out of our existence. I though it would be funny extrapolating their support into a quasi Lord of the Rings type scenario but. No. Orcs scurrying from their holes carrying their bitterness and hate, their lack of idea, their lack of beauty. Instead of holes they have Small Heath, Kings Heath…names that you really only see driving as fast as you possibly can through Birmingham on dirty road signs. Feet slapping on the road, the dull thud of the odd punch. You can’t just walk into Mordor but you can sing your way out of it. If I was going to the match I would be eloquent and waxative but here now, in the warm front room of my house I just feel blankness and greyness. They could be Cardiff or Bristol City really. The faces of the team all have that same generic blank beard/quiff/tattoo thing going on. They have a Jota but not a JOTA. I remember watching a video on Twitter of City fans on the ‘Party boat’ on the Thames, bumbling from foot to foot drinking expensive beer wondering what the fuck they are doing there.
It would have been too light a blog post for something so void of joy. My babies will be going there to play within that darkness and it makes me feel sad and unhappy. That their beautiful feet should press upon that cursed ground makes me want to weep. That they should perform their beauty and rhythms in front of Philistines and the ignorant makes my heart twinge and I am angry and this is what the metaphysical aspects of this derby really are.
We are used to presenting the ideas of Nuno to people that have a little understanding and empathy for this philosophy, as monkeys watching an ant hill they understand to some extent the concepts displayed on the pitch. But this? David Davis the exiled one. Your ministrations to the Southbank after your goal isn’t forgotten but it doesn’t really affect us in our hearts Dave. It was just you. Your whole ethos was defined by that display. Taking on the blue and white cloak of depravity you expected limbnal griefs from us, but all we did was sigh and look to the heavens. Accusing the Gods of terrible metaphysical banter that you should present Dave Davis to us in this way. Diggah, you will fade into future headlines about assaults and traffic violations and the press will lament your fall, but not us. We are driven by muscle and skill but directed purely by strong minds. Birmingham, you lack honour.
The walk through Birmingham to the ground is a Psychogeographical exercise in survival. Not only from the offer of physical violence but that of mental violence. This dystopian madness in those sad streets that surround the ground are relentless. Pressing on your mind as soon as you leave the sterility of the city center. What are Small Heath? Why are they a thing? I’m not sure. Aside from the various matches we have met and the shenanigans that have gone on. On my part it isn’t the violence and jollity that goes on in the after-party, it’s the lack of any identity they have that bothers me. They are a lumpen lot Birmingham City. I would have expected more of them being ‘second city’ and all that bollocks. I forget Aston Villa for a moment as I don’t really see them as having anything to do with us. But Small Heath. Yes, they are a thing for me. Outside the house the bats have given up chasing the few insects but the moon is shining as well as it can through the haze of traffic fumes and the odd vapid cloud. What is a Birmingham? I have some good memories of Birmingham but they are wrapped up in punches and kicks, Moseley Road, having illicit sex with blond WPC’s, Steve Bull half killing Citys goalkeeper, spinning him around like a traffic cone booted by a drunk 1st year undergraduate.
Over the past ten years I have watched them with interest. They have paraded a series of Managers that I had a keen dislike for. Every time I go to Saint Andrews I get a vibe there. It’s not the doughnuts whacking the odd ‘dingle’ or West Midlands Police getting their weekly hard on. It’s the area and the people. They look dejected. Even when they play us and enter the Golden Dragon they look pissed off and grey. They file in with a cursory song or two. Half hearted and sad. This makes me sad because I want their little faces to be angry and shouty. To put some vim into the whole away support thing. But it’s never like that. I suspect the darkness of their ends is a weight upon them. I feel like it’s a good job I’m not going really.
Pre-game mind propaganda from Steve Coterill is interesting ‘Wolves are the best team in the Championship’ yeah well we know that. But why are you talking about our team and not your own? At the Tesco one stop this morning putting some diesel in the van another decrepit Transit turned up full of Joeys and their van had a big Birmingham City sticker on the side. It was a dirty thing. I drew a cock on the grimy back just because I could (and they were too busy heaping Pot Noodles into the thing). Steve Cotterill eh. He’s about as dynamic as a shit Ford Transit. His whole team shout out Ford Transit in fact. On paper they look handy, until you open the back doors and a few crackheads fall out in plaster covered tracksuits and Moms woolly hats. One sits at the front cramming crisps into his face and crumbs of fried potato are falling all over him. The pump display is getting close to the £20 I’m putting in but my eyes are shocked by the fact he’s eating his crisps with gloves on. Amazing. Birmingham.
But what is the rub here, what’s the angle with City? I can’t find one. They dull the imagination both here in front of the lap top and even watching them play. There’s a dichotomy of course between us. We have more or less the same attendances, we play 20 miles apart, both owned by Chinese global entities…but the difference. Lack of idea. We have a plan and a transformative algorithm. We have erupted from the nothingness of Moxey and Morgan et al with an idea and a dream I suppose, underpinned by business nous and a philosophy. But them? What idea can they drag from Small Heath? What philosophy? Silk purses from pigs ears? There is nothing in the geography of that place that gives any idea at all, any underpinning of intent by structured concrete thought. It’s all crisp packets blowing down the road. It’s potholes and fast food take aways run by angry middle easterners. It’s Kevin Phillips scoring a goal, it’s walking through Digbeth at 3am with your head pounding from that dodgy pill. It’s being herded together by West Midlands Police and truncheoned when you step off the kerb. It’s temporary traffic lights, it’s chavvy little fucks bouncing on their Air Max. It’s a metaphysical black hole that sucks any joy out of you unless it’s three points and a fast route out of the place.
I expect our team to again lash the Book Of Nuno tight with our attack and to not allow the Cotteralism of City to look further than their stadium. Their team will only perform if they forget what they are. There will be a moment when they remember their lives before Birmingham. Like a convict in a dungeon seeing a square of blue sky above him while he sits in the squalor of his existence. This little blue sky thinking will jolt them from their depressions and they will remember football, and playing it. They will remember those few joys they had playing before they entered this chasm of unjoy. Will they remember? Who knows. Maybe their football will be eating crisps with gloves on, being cramped up in the back of a transit with no real idea of how you are going to get out of it and start your life anew. We do inspire minds with our football, but how do you inspire others who have such an abject experience of it?
Our job is to confuse and blind them with our light and we will. The match will be a battle against light and darkness and it’s a darkness we remember too although the dark crept around our pitch under the lamentations of Paul Lambert it was held back by the light from our support. We never wavered and never stopped hoping. We know that we deserve the rarified atmosphere of academic and structured football, but them? What history do they have? Pitch invasions and throwing seats. The vacant Jasper Carrot blankness. The City is theirs they call out to their Villa rivals…of course it is lads. All yours, every grey street of it, every pothole, every errant mistimed tackle, every coin flung skywards.
Our team must be vigilant. Our plan and philosophy must be strong and applied with beauty and strength and as Nuno says ‘our ideas must be stronger’ and they must be here. Because here is where we must plant our flag firmly within the center circle. It’s not filthy porn football any longer for how long does that sexual act last? ten, twenty, thirty minutes? Beware that as we display our football we will also inspire City to play too. They will glimpse the meadows of our hearts in every ball played, every switch of play from the left to the right, the way our front three prowl and hunt the goals, the way our defence is hewn into shape under the masterful hand of our Captain. They will look into our golden light and want it very badly and this will galvanise them into some semblance of a team. The ministrations of Cotterill will be forgotten for a moment as they watch us and want to be us, and this is a most dangerous thing when our own beauty and passion becomes their inspiration too.
I’ll be back after this match has gone and I can sit and squeeze superlatives in between the meat of the whole derby sandwich but I had to say something before hand, had to write some madness down. Best of luck out there troops. Don’t let the darkness into your minds as you walk through Digbeth. Be brave, remember our idea. The dude who owns the Birmingham City transit can’t start his van and you can hear the battery struggling to turn the starter motor. He looks around with that blank look for somebody to fall out of the heavens to help him and I grab my starter leads from the back of my van and step out into the cold to help him. I’m not a total bastard but as I go around the side of the van I write in the dirt encrusted to it ‘FWAW’ and that’s the right thing to do as well.