Blue is the colour of money

FAN'S EYE VIEW: No.105 Birmingham City
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The Independent Online
If I had a quid for every time I've heard my team described as a "sleeping giant" I could buy a seat on the board. Reporters, managers, players and pundits trot out the clich at only the slightest provocation. In fact the only people you don't hear using it are the fans, who realise that if our club is indeed a "giant" it lapsed into a coma long ago.

The Blues are the hot tip to take the one automatic promotion place from the Second Division, but we've seen it all before, with knobs on, and we're not biting. Still, things are a lot better than they were two years ago.

With the club in receivership after the owners, the Kumars, had lost their rag trade fortune during the BCCI collapse, those were dark days indeed. Grown men were seen crying in the streets of Small Heath, but, then again, that happened every other Saturday.

But lo, what should appear from our glorious capital but a saviour, a man with a vision. And what a vision: a vision of success; promotion; and busty maidens. Ladies and gentlemen I give you Mr David Sullivan.

The papers may be full of the ever talkative Barry Fry but it is David Sullivan who the fans credit with the so-called rebirth of the Blues. It is common knowledge that the best coaching and team spirit can only get you so far in the money-orientated football world of the Nineties. If you're going to go the distance and get success then you need the readies - and big time.

David Sullivan's popularity among the fans, however, can not be explained simply by the size of his wad (ooh, 'er missus). What impresses those who have had their cynicism hardened through years of unfulfilled promises is that the man seems to mean what he says. He actually believes that he can get the Blues to the Premiership, the madman. We've now got a stadium transformed from the cesspit it had become over years of neglect into an impressive all-seater facility. You can almost see the away support (normally a minibus full) turning a fetching shade of green as they shuffle, cloth caps in hand, to their appointed seats pausing only to let their sheep/whippets relieve themselves.

You would hardly describe Barry Fry as Mr Unpopular either. OK, some of his signings have been bizarre. Ricky Otto has come in for some stick, mostly unwarranted, mainly because he - along with a contingent of ex- Barnet players - is another "Fry Old Boy". At least we aren't selling players any more. In fact we can't get rid of some of them. "Big" signings get big wages, and moving to clubs at our level, or below, is not an attractive proposition to a seasoned professional. Andy Saville is a notable exception, Barry.

If there is one thing that Blues fans appreciate it is honesty and Fry, if nothing else, is painfully honest. If the team play badly he tells them, and anyone else willing to listen! Not for this man the pitiful excuse of bad refereeing standards that so many Premiership managers seem to trot out every time they experience a minor setback. No, if we deserved to lose Fry says so.

The club seems to be better organised these days, too, though that would not be too difficult. Regular newsletters appear, unsolicited. However, these missives tend to be little more than demands that we consign all our worldly goods to the Blues.

There is also a fast developing football in the community scheme and reduced-price admission - "Kids for a Quid" - for less attractive fixtures, though it is tough finding an attractive fixture in this Division. Attendances have soared to the 20,000 mark for most games which shames a few clubs in the Premiership let alone the First Division.

And yet, the Blues will always be the Blues. David Sullivan may think he can buy the club back to the top level but he is reckoning without the "Gipsy's Curse" that has hung over the club since we turfed out a Romany encampment to build St Andrews, and the unerring ability of the team to shoot themselves in the foot at vital moments.

Those who have followed the club for some time may have suspended disbelief for a while but we all know that the light fast appearing at the end of the tunnel can be nothing else but the light of yet another oncoming train.

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