Often Partisan

Similarities

In just over 96 hours, Birmingham City will grace the pitch at Wembley in a major final for the first time in 55 years, and the first time in a major final for ten years. I know that there is a lot of previews kicking around, so I thought I’d do something different. Let’s look at some past memories.

The player born and bred a blues fan scoring a dramatic winner.

Of course, the last time we were in a showpiece final was the play off final at the Millennium stadium, in 2002. I can’t honestly remember much of the game – it’s a blur of sweat (Christ it was hot with the roof shut), tears (from the chap behind me), and delirious joy. Of course, the joy was set off by Darren Carter burying the winning penalty in front of us Blues fans, and it was made all the sweeter because Darren had come through the academy system and was a bluenose, born and bred. We haven’t really got an academy player like that at the mo, but we do have a goalscoring bluenose midfielder in Craig Gardner.

The brave, hardworking, non-goalscoring forward inconsolable after a penalty miss.

Alas, I wasn’t in Cardiff for the Worthington Cup Final; I was reduced to listening to the penalties on the radio – over the phone, as I was in the United States at the time. I guess in some ways I’m lucky I didn’t see the heartbreak of Andrew Johnson missing the crucial penalty to give Liverpool victory. Fast forwards to now, and I think of Cameron Jerome. Like Johnson was, he’s a bit derided by some for not scoring enough goals, but also like Johnson he puts a shift in and really works the channels. I don’t want the image of this cup final to be McLeish consoling a really miserable Jerome.

The ref who doesn’t give penalties.

Of course, there was the penalty that never was at the Worthington Cup final. Elleray did notice Swiss Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz pull down Martin O’Connor in injury time to give the penalty, but when Henchoz was at it again, pulling down Andrew Johnson to howled appeals from the Blues players, Elleray waved play on. Sunday’s final will be reffed by Mike Dean – the man who sent off Martin Taylor for his unfortunately bad tackle on Arsenal’s Eduardo. In fairness to Dean, the last few games he’s reffed that Blues have played in he’s done well; the last time he reffed an Arsenal game he booked a few of their players and sent of Koscielny. I’m hoping the ref is strong enough to deal with some of Arsenal’s more gamesmanship-like tactics, and is consistent enough to treat all decisions equally. A pen for us to win it in the last minute would be nice too…

I’m getting excited by the cup final, and the more I read the more I get pumped up by the fact we’ll be playing at Wembley – and for once I’ll get to go. Let’s hope this final will be remembered for the right reasons.

Match previews sponsored by EZE Group - Lifestyle Experts

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