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BCFC club history

Posted: Tue 29 May 2012

Like so many football clubs that started around the late 19th century, Birmingham City's origins lie in the church.

Formed by a group of cricketers from Holy Church in Bordesley Green in 1875 the club was originally known as Small Heath Alliance.

The club moved to its first ground, Muntz Street, in 1877, which was rented from the Gressey family for £5 a year!

On 27 September 1879, the Heathens had an engagement at Muntz Street, which was to form the beginnings of that great Midlands rivalry with Aston Villa. Small Heath won the game, which was recorded as 'one goal and a disputed goal to nil'!

The club turned professional in 1885 striking an agreement with the players whereby they received half of the gate money.

In 1888 they became the first club to adopt limited liability; the share capital of the club was £650!

The club changed its name from Small Heath Alliance in 1905, adopting the name of Birmingham FC.

In 1906 the club's growth meant that a change of ground was necessary. Birmingham FC moved to the current St. Andrew's site in 1906 and the first game at St. Andrew's was played against Middlesbrough in December of that year attracting a crowd of 32,000. Sir John Holder kicked off the match and the first game finished goalless. The first goal at St. Andrew's was scored three days later by Benny Green, who was rewarded with a piano for his efforts - legend has it that Benny had already found a buyer for the instrument. He had to be 'thawed out' after his goal, as he threw himself into a pile of snow whilst in the act of scoring. 

During the First World War Blues were asked to help the cause by offering the use of St. Andrew's as a rifle range to train the soldiers.

In the 1920-21 season the Blues did not enter the F.A. Cup competition - Secretary Sam Richards simply forgot to send in the forms in!

The 1925-26 season saw the first visit of foreign opposition at St. Andrew's - Real Madrid were beaten 3-0 in a friendly.

In 1931 Blues graced Wembley way playing against West Brom in the F.A. Cup Final. This was the club's first ever appearance at the Twin Towers and, after a great game, they came out on the losing side 2-1.

The following year saw the club attract the highest ever attendance at St. Andrew's with 67,341 people turning out to watch and F.A. Cup tie against Everton.

1920-35 were the Bradford years. Joe Bradford, the club's all time record goalscorer, amassed 267 goals in 445 appearances. Bradford won 12 England caps scoring seven goals.

The outbreak of the Second World War saw Blues pay a high price, losing both the Railway End and the Main Stand. The Spion Kop's roof fell down and the ground was in a sorry state. The German Luftwaffe scored no less than 20 direct hits on the ground during the War years. This led to all home games being played at Villa Park. When the move back to St. Andrew's became possible in 1943, the players had to change in a nearby factory. A massive clean up operation was launched and an apple tree was found to be growing through debris on the Kop.

The 1946 season was one of the club's most successful to date, with the winning of the Football League Championships and a F.A. Cup Semi-Final appearance.

In the three seasons after the War Blues were almost invincible, they were beaten only eight times at home in 63 matches. They conceded only 102 goals in 126 league games and they won the second Division title in 1947-48.

The 1954-55 season saw the Blues under Arthur Turner, gain promotion from the Second Division to the First Division. Blues clinched the Second Division title by gaining top spot on the last draw of the season. They edged Luton into second spot second, taking the title by 0.297 of a goal. Turner had one of the best sides ever to play at St. Andrew's and during that promotion season they scored 92 league goals with all of the front four strikers finishing with double figures.

The 1955/56 season saw Blues enjoy their best season to date in Division One finishing sixth place and reaching the F.A. Cup Final, losing 3-1 to Manchester City at Wembley. On 15th May 1956, Blues became the first English league club to play in Europe when they drew 0-0 away at Internazionale.

In 1960 Blues reached the Fairs Cup Final, losing to Barcelona 4-1 on aggregate.

In the League cup competition Blues met second city rivals Aston Villa in a two-legged final and lifted the trophy at Villa Park after a 3-1 aggregate victory - a sweet moment for the many thousands of Blues fans in attendance.

In 1970 Trevor Francis made his first appearance for the Blues. He became a Blues legend, scoring 133 goals in 328 appearances. Nine years later he became the first £1 millions English footballer, moving to Nottingham Forest in 1979.

In 1972 the club gained promotion to Division One and reached the F.A. Cup semi-finals. The Seventies were a period of stability in the top flight. Another one of the great teams to play at St. Andrew's enjoyed seven seasons in Division One.

The first player to appear for Birmingham City with a World Cup Winners' medal to his name was the Argentinian, Alberto Tarantini, who helped his country win the star prize in 1978. Blues have also had a manager who gained a World Cup Winners' medal in Sir Alf Ramsey, who managed the Blues between 1977-78.

The bubble burst in 1979 with Blues being relegated to Division Two. A yo-yo period followed with Blues gaining promotion the following season and then being relegated back to Division Two in 1984. The following season the club was promoted back to Division One, only to be relegated to Division Two the next season. In 1989 things went from bad to worse, as Blues were relegated to Division Three for the first time in their history.

In 1991 Blues reached Wembley for the first time in 35 years in the Leyland Daf Cup Final and won 3-2 against Tranmere in a thriller under the Twin Towers.

In 1992 the club became the first team to be promoted from Division Three to Division One as the divisions were restructured.

The arrival of David Sullivan and the Gold brothers in March 1993 led to a period of financial stability and, under the managerial reigns of Terry Cooper, and a much needed cash injection on the playing side, the club survived almost certain relegation. Paul Moulden, a signing from Oldham Athletic, scored a last gasp winner on the last day of the season against Charlton Athletic to ensure that Blues would be playing First Division football the next season.

The 1993-94 season saw the Blues struggle in Division One, a managerial change with Barry Fry replacing Terry Cooper, and more cash could not stave off the beckoning Division Two.
Bulldozers moved in on the Spion Kop and Tilton Road ends after the Blues game against Bristol City on Saturday 16th April. A new £10 million development replaced the famous old terracing.

But in May 1994 Blues were relegated after a spirited fight. The 1994-95 season was a success for the Blues even though plying their trade in Division Two. Two exciting cup encounters against Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool proved the teams championship credentials, with Birmingham losing 3-1 over two legs in the Coca-Cola Cup to Blackburn (who went on to win the Premiership) and, after a replay against Liverpool in the F.A. Cup the Blues lost on penalties.

In December of that year Blues smashed their record transfer fee paid by splashing out £800,000 for Southend's Ricky Otto and then a month later the club equalled this by playing Stockport the same amount for Kevin Francis. These two signings boosted the clubs championship push and on Saturday May 6 the club were crowned Second Division Champions after beating Huddersfield 2-1 with goals from Steve Claridge and Paul Tait.

The Auto Windscreen Shield Competition drew record crowds, with attendances of over 20,000 for the latter rounds of the competition. Blues went on to win the trophy in a Wembley final that attracted a sell-out 76,663 crowd.

After ex-St. Andrew's favourite Trevor Francis took over as manager after Barry Fry had been ousted, the Blues at last looked as though they were set up for a return to the big time.

In June 1996 Blues sold Jose Dominguez to Sporting Lisbon for a club record transfer fee received of £1.5 million, beating the previous record of £1 million for Francis. The new boss set about rebuilding the side with a huge change of playing personnel after the chaotic regime of Barry Fry. A bad start to the 1997-98 season hindered Blues' progress, but a run of only three defeats in 25 games and the arrival of talented players such as Peter Ndlovu, Dele Adebola and the experience of Steve Bruce set up a thrilling finale to the season. As Charlton arrived on the final Sunday, the biggest crowd of the season looked on as a 0-0 draw saw Trevor's boys miss out on a play-off place on goals scored.

Blues went one step further the following season and clinched a play-off place, only to be defeated by Watford following a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out at St. Andrew’s. That season also saw the redevelopment of the Railway End at St. Andrew's with an 8,000 capacity two-tiered stand being built housing new dressing rooms.

The 1999/2000 season was one that most Bluenoses felt was the one where the Blues could finally realize their potential and make that step in to the Premiership where they could pit there wits against some of the best teams in the world. This was helped by the record summer signing of Stan Lazaridis from West Ham. After an injury hit 99/00 season, Blues finished fifth in the league, amassed 77 points and qualified for the play-offs. Unfortunately they lost against fourth placed Barnsley at the semi-final stage.

At the start of the 2000/01 season Blues broke their transfer record again with the £2.5 million acquisition of Geoff Horsfield from Fulham. The season will live long in the memory of Bluenoses after they saw their side reach the final of a major domestic competition for the first time in 38 years. Blues met Liverpool in the Worthington Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium on 25 February 2001.Trevor Francis's bravehearts came so close to a major upset after Darren Purse's injury-time penalty cancelled out Robbie Fowler's opener to take the game into extra-time. Blues should have been awarded another spot kick during the extra 30 minutes but the referee waved the appeals after Andrew Johnson was brought down by Sammi Hyypia. In the end it was the young striker who made the headlines when he missed the penalty in the shoot-out to give victory to the Merseysiders. Soon after their cup final heroics Blues went on a disastrous run of ten league games without victory that ruined any chances of automatic promotion. Another penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Preston in the play-off semi-final put pay to Blues' Premiership dream and condemned them to another season in the First Division.

In October of the following season, Trevor Francis departed from the helm and was replaced two months later by another former Blues player in the form of Steve Bruce. He brought with him former Wigan boss John Benson as general manager and Mark Bowen as first team coach. Bruce transformed the Blues squad and just six months after taking charge of the club, he led them to play-off success. Youngster Darren Carter converted the deciding penalty kick against Norwich City at the Millennium Stadium to seal a place back in the top flight for the first time in 16 years.

Bruce then went about assembling a squad that he hoped would be strong enough to survive in the Premiership by bringing in the likes of Robbie Savage, Clinton Morrison and Aliou Cisse. After a promising start to the season, the Blues squad was decimated to injuries to key players, which at one stage even saw striker Geoff Horsfield playing as an emergency centre half! But just as it started to look as if relegation could be a possibility, Bruce received the backing of the Blues board during the January 2003 transfer window to bring in a number of key players. These included Jamie Clapham, Stephen Clemence, and Matthew Upson and most importantly French World Cup winner Christophe Dugarry.These players quickly gelled and Blues began to play themselves away from the relegation zone, eventually finishing in 13th place in their inaugural Premiership and, to the joy of Blues fans, above the Villa!

Blues started the 2003/04 season in tremendous form and were flying high in the top six throughout the first three months of the season. Striker Mikael Forssell was brought in on loan from Chelsea and made an immediate impression on the players and fans alike at St. Andrew’s. The Finnish international ended up with a 19-goal tally and swept the board at the Awards Dinner. Unfortunately, Blues' wonderful first half of the season tailed off in the final months of the campaign with just one win in the final 11 matches. But Bruce's charges still finished in the top half in a highly creditable tenth place.

The summer of 2004 saw Bruce significantly strengthen his squad, in particular the acquisitions of England international striker Emile Heskey and Dutch defender Mario Melchiot. Forssell also returned on another season-long loan, highly-rated midfielder Muzzy Izzet came in from Leicester and left-sided Crystal Palace man Julian Gray arrived on a free transfer. Therefore expectation levels were at an all-time high as Blues began their third season (2004/05) in the Premiership but unfortunately it proved to be very much a stop-start campaign. Forssell and Izzet were ruled out early on with long term injuries and David Dunn only managed a handful of games due to persistent hamstring problems. The arrivals of winger Jermaine Pennant and striker Walter Pandiani on loan from Arsenal and Deportivo La Coruna respectively - moves that were eventually turned into permanent transfers - provided a mid-season boost and Blues finished in 12th place after an impressive 2-1 last day win over FA Cup winners Arsenal.

Unfortunately, the 2005/06 season proved to be one to forget as a catalogue of injuries led to an ultimately unsuccessful bid to avoid relegation. Having dropped into the bottom three by as early as mid-October, Blues put up a good fight in the second half of the campaign and briefly moved out of the relegation zone with wins over Bolton and Blackburn in April. However, in the end a formidable run of form by fellow strugglers Portsmouth meant that Blues' four-year stay in the Premiership came to a close.
Bruce remained at the helm and rebuilt the squad in the summer of 2006 with 15 players leaving to be replaced by a younger and hungrier group and, exactly a year to the day since relegation; the new-look team reclaimed their place in the top flight.

Following a disappointing start to 2007/08 campaign the season Bruce left the club to join Wigan Athletic on November 19, 2007. He was succeeded by former Scotland and Rangers manager Alex McLeish who was joined by first team coaches Roy Aitken and Andy Watson.

Despite McLeish's best attempts Blues were relegated on the final day of the 2007/08 season by a single point. However, Blues started the 2008/09 season in great form and put together their best ever start to the season to give them a great platform to build on. At the end of that season they were promoted back to the top flight at the first attempt after finishing in second spot behind Wolves.

In October 2009 the club was taken over by new owners as David Sullivan and the Gold brothers sold up to Chinese entrepreneur Carson Yeung and his Grandtop Holdings company and a new era at St. Andrew's began.

The 2009/10 season proved to be the most successful for over 50 years as Alex McLeish's side sealed ninth spot - the club's highest top flight finish since 1958/59. The team went on an incredible 12-match unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier League between October 2009 and January 2010 with seven wins and five draws and, in doing so, broke the club record for the number of matches without defeat in the top division, which previously stood at 11. Blues also reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup in a run that saw them drawn away on each occasion but chalk up impressive wins over Nottingham Forest, Everton and Derby before finally succumbing to eventual finalists Portsmouth in the last eight.

The 2010/11 season was one of massive highs and lows for the club.

In February 2011 Blues lifted their first major trophy in 55 years when they defeated strong favourites Arsenal 2-1 to lift League Cup for the second time in their history.
But this triumph was overshadowed by the club being relegation down to the Championship on the final day of the season when they were beaten 2-1 by Spurs at White Hart Lane.
The following month saw Alex McLeish resign from his post as first team manager and less than a week later join Blues' Second City rivals Aston Villa. McLeish was swiftly replaced by former Newcastle boss Chris Hughton. Under Hughton's tenure, Blues had a successful Europa League campaign and finished in fourth place in the npower Championship to achieve a play-off spot. Unfortunately they failed to gain promotion after losing to Blackpool over a two-legged semi-final. In June 2012 Hughton left St. Andrew's to join Norwich City.

Following Hughton's departure Lee Clark was appointed as the club's manager on June 26, 2012

Clark had carved out an impressive 16 year senior playing career as a midfielder with Newcastle United, Sunderland and Fulham, as well as gaining international honours with England Under-21s.

Having honed his coaching skills at Newcastle and then Norwich City, he made his first steps into management with Huddersfield Town in December 2008.

The Wallsend-born motivator turned the Terriers into a formidable force, losing just two home league games in his first season in charge, and guided the Yorkshire outfit into the 2009/10 npower League One play-offs, losing at the semi-final stage to Millwall. His side went one step further the following season only to fall at the final hurdle to Peterborough United after a third-place league finish.

He gained further managerial plaudits in the 2011/12 season by guiding Huddersfield to a Football League record-breaking 43 game unbeaten run which eclipsed the 42-game mark set by Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest in 1978, before departing the Galpharm Stadium in February.

In his first campaign, Clark saw his squad hit by injuries to key players. But despite making a slow start to the season his charges eventually finished in 12th place, just seven points off a play-off spot.