SeasideEssexXile takes a look at St Andrews, where the Seasiders visit on Saturday to play Birmingham City.
St Andrews – Birmingham City
There was everyone thinking it would be our home form that gives us a chance of staying up and yet 8 games in and 3 out of 5 away games have seen the Pool return with maximum points. Birmingham look a fairly decent team but we`ve become a bit of a bogey team to them in recent years, that despite a 7-1 mauling after we had taken the lead. 1 defeat in the last 20 years gives us another glimmer of hope against the blues this Saturday and with us yet to win at home there won`t be many Pool fans not expecting us to get something out of the game.
History states that Birmingham City started life as Small Heath formed by cricketers who wanted something to do during the winter months. Previous grounds included waste ground off Arthur Street and Muntz Street, but it was in 1906 that Birmingham (having changed their name in 1905) moved to new premises at St Andrews. Legend has it that when moving to their new premises the club had to evict a camp of gypsies, much aggrieved at their removal from site, one of the gypsies allegedly put a curse on the club that it would never win any of the major honours whilst playing at St Andrews.
Now nobody ever believes in these things but the club has not won any of the major honours in its 130 plus years of trying. A single League cup victory against the auld enemy Aston Villa in 1963 doesn`t count as not every club entered the competition in its early days. Birmingham City (having added City to its title in 1945) were one of the first English clubs involved in regular European competition having been inaugural members of the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, an invitation competition. The sojourns in Europe provided funds for the development of St Andrews and the provision of floodlighting at the ground. Birmingham reached the final in 1960 only to be beaten over two legs by Barcelona and then the following competition they reached their second final to be beaten this time by AS Roma.
St Andrews was mainly terraced having the Spion Kop and Tilton road as large terraces. A small terrace at the railway end of the ground was replaced with a two tier stand in 1961 with money from the European games. The ground was largely unchanged through the relatively successful period of the 1970`s but fell into much disrepair during the uncelebrated reign as chairman of scrap metal merchant Ken Wheldon who was so tight he wouldn`t even heat the water for player`s post match showers.
The dawning of a new era occurred in 1993 when the owners David Sullivan and the Gold brothers taking charge. They oversaw significant redevelopment of St Andrews with stands replacing the Spion Kop and Tilton terracing and the Railway end being doubled in size. The ground has undergone a huge transformation since the mid 90s with three new stands surrounding the pitch. The oldest stand, the Main Stand, was built just before the 1960s and is starting to look a little forlorn and out of keeping with the rest of the ground, though until, like many clubs, a decision is taken on whether to relocate to a new stadium or remain on the current site, there seems little point in commencing any building work.
With a capacity of 30,000 we`ll be sat on one side of the Gil Merrick Stand, which is at one end of the stadium in the lower tier. The normal allocation is 3,000 tickets
How To Get There
M55, M6 South to Junction 6. Bear right on to the slip road towards Birmingham Central. Follow the Aston Expressway straight on. Bear left on to A38 (Slip Road) towards City Centre. Follow A5127 (Aston Rd straight on. Take first available exit off roundabout on to A4540 (Dartmouth Middleway). Take the second available exit off roundabout on to A4540 (Lawley Middleway). Take the first available exit off roundabout on to Garrison Lane, continue for 1.7 miles Turn right on to Camp St – you`re there.
For the sat navvers – B9 4RL.
For the Virgin lovers amongst us: The nearest local railway station is Bordesley, which is a ten minute walk away. The nearest mainline stations are Birmingham New Street, Birmingham Snow Hill or Birmingham Moor Street (20 minutes walk). A taxi will cost around £6 to the ground.
For those flying via Samm Airways: Birmingham Airport is just 9 miles away.
Where To Drink
Recommended pubs for away fans are – The Anchor in Digbeth which is approximately 15 minutes walk to the ground. The Brighton a 10 minute walk, and The Cricketers Arms about the same. Ale is on sale within the ground.
Plod & Stewards
Stewarding inside the ground is reported as pretty decent and no issues with the West Mids plod.
Fear Factor Rating – 6
Last Sunday brought heartache of a defeat against the worlds` richest club. Performances are good, it`s exciting to watch and the more we see of the Premiership the more we want to stay here. Liverpool away = a Pool win, who would have thought it? There`s a set of teams outside of the elite that we have to do well against and pick up points when we play them. Here`s hoping that come 5pm on Saturday that it`s not a blue moon guiding us back up the M6
Onwards + Upwards