Trips to Birmingham have never been without incident and this one is no exception. The nonsense of buying tickets began on tuesday night with the announcement that sales of tickets from Brentford, having reasonably been on sale for four weeks, would cease lunchtime wednesday, but Birmingham in their wisdom decreed no match day sales. Can anyone explain to me why? Why do clubs not want bigger crowds, especially in the holiday season when often plans are not cemented till the last minute. This ridiculous decision was then reversed maybe 48 hours later. Thankfully Twitter and Mark Devlin kept us updated. A number of tickets were sold at the last minute and these needed collection at the ground.
The nonsense continued on match day with no-one in the Birmingham ticket office seemingly aware that these tickets were somehow being escorted to the ground. A random vision of the sign ” Collections” on a gate at the away end gave at last a clue where tickets might be collected. Two unhappy looking souls distributed tickets after checking for names on an envelope. And giving the impression they were auditioning for a role in a prison behind bars.
A number of positives need to be stated. Firstly all the staff at the ground, the stewards and in fact the fans are super friendly, and it was a pleasure to listen in to a conversation on how awful a referee Keith Stroud is. Parking is also easy. Travelling through the suburbs of Birmingham is frankly non unlike the opening of a horror movie. But ground parking is easy and anyone prepared to walk 10-15 minutes can find free easy street parking. Lower Dartmouth street is my recommendation.
And there are a few sights in Birmingham, somewhat unexpected within yards of the ground. And a good few sights totally expected. The ground is in a sort of area that is an admixture of urban housing and small industrial estates. With a few curious bars and shops thrown in for good measure.
On the way to the ground one walks past canals that look pleasant although here there seemed either a small gravestone or a miniature ” angel of the north”. Street cleaning also seems an optional extra, though maybe a little cruel to say that on Jan 2nd.
The ground itself is a great ground now. Three sides have been re-built and this is one of the better Championship grounds. The whole area smells that gorgeous football smell of onions and cooking burgers.
Views are excellent all around the ground and access is quite uncomplicated. With one notable exception, the tannoy system is so quiet that I did not realise there was one. The game however was dire and will be covered in a different blog. Overall this was a good match day experience. And lastly I should mention that £20 for a ticket is really a very reasonable price in 2016.
Sadly an awful football game. The first half was maybe the worst football, if one can describe it as that, all season. Neither team able to pass to another player and nothing to note other than an awful looking tackle in the 45th minute by ex-bee John Toral on Jake Bidwell. Half time arrived with the Brentford crowd baying for a red card and possible execution.
The second half was better though not by much. Brentford leaked their usual two goals with the second resulting from another error from Harlee Dean. Brentford in between scored a goal, a tap in after a goalkeeping error. Frankly this was the sort of game that neither side deserved any points. The referee was also abysmal, Graham Scott. He was finicky to the extreme. Booking an excessive number of players and stoping the game on any any pretext at any time. He ran Keith Stroud a close second in the worst referee of the week awards.
A strange Brentford team performance after recent very strong ones. Raised questions about possible tiredness? Issues behind the scenes relating to transfers?
The team was also a little unusual in that Jota was neither in the side nor on the bench, for which there may be multiple reasons but is he being transferred was the one being discussed? Alan Judge had his quietest game for months. Maybe tired, maybe took a few heavy tackles , maybe again is a transfer allegedly to Middlesbrough for 12 million on his mind? James Tarkowski had his worst game I have seen him have, but still looked good! Again, transfer issues? Tiredness? Who knows.
On the positive side Gogia looked interested when he came on with 20 minutes to go. Neither Hoffmann nor Vibe are strikers we want playing upfront alone.
So, a strange game. St Andrews is a decent ground but we always seem to lose there every time i go……so maybe all my fault.
Weekend offenders was a great piece of graffiti on a wall and foot long hot dogs smelled great. They were maybe the highlights today.