An idiot at The FA decided the match would take place at 12:45, which meant a very early start for us. We got a train from Manchester at around 09:00 and it was a relatively comfortable journey down to Birmingham. When we arrived in Birmingham we didn’t have a clue where to go, so we followed some blokes who were wearing Birmingham tops. Luckily they guided us to the stadium, rather than a drugs den or some sort of other surprise. It took around 30 minutes to walk to the stadium, and we were shattered!
We arrived at the stadium and went into the club shop. Some little child piped up “Ewww daddy, there’s a Bolton fan in our shop”. Now if that was my child, I’d have explained to the child why this was a wrong presumption of a Northerner. I know I’m a Boltonian but I’m not going to bite, pass a contagious disease or shout “No Likey! No Lighty!” at you.
Now, one thing that really annoys me about St. Andrew’s is the area in which it’s situated. It is a fair while away from any transport links and you can’t just simply enjoy a nice walk around the stadium because it is situated next to a railway line, a housing estate, warehouses and shops.
After having my photo taken with Birmingham’s mascot, and buying a programme we decided to go to the turnstiles. This is when a cocky steward gave us a lecture on how he enjoyed his trip to Wembley a couple of weeks previously, and how he was looking forward to going again. We told this particular steward that we would be back after the final whistle to wind him up!
As we entered the away end at St. Andrew’s it struck me just how much of a weird layout it was. There are burger vans, and ice cream vans on the first level of the concourse. You then go up a flight of stairs to get on to the second concourse. Whilst going up these stairs you are above the away changing room, which means you can smell the deepheat!
Finding our seats was a challenge by itself. Previous away fans had obviously peeled off the seat stickers meaning everybody just sat where they wanted. The view from our seats was pretty good, it would have been even better if I wasn’t a very small 15 year old boy!
Opposite where we were seated was the Tilton Road Stand. Built in 1994 it joins on to the Kop Stand which runs down the length of the entire pitch. These two stands are probably the nicest and house the majority of home supporters. To our left was The Main Stand (Garrison Lane End) which was built in 1954 and contains media facilities and a gantry. It is in need of work, as it looks completely outdated in a relatively new stadium.
ESPN were in their first season of FA Cup coverage, and still hadn’t raised the money to hire a studio at St. Andrew’s so this gave us the opportunity to fire abuse at Kevin Keegan and DJ Campbell who were stood directly in front of us.
The match kicked off and Bolton looked to be on top, and this was confirmed when Johan Elmander scored after 21 minutes. Birmingham then woke up and Cameron Jerome equalized just before the break after poor defending from the Wanderers.
Now, I would usually go and get a pie at half time… or at least go and stretch my legs. But the pies at Birmingham weren’t brilliant on my last trip, and I couldn’t be bothered walking up and down the depressing concourses. So I decided to stay in my seat and read the matchday programme, which was a very good read – priced at £3.
The second half kicked off, and I was already dreaming of seeing Super Kevin Davies leading the lads out at Wembley. On the 68th minute, SKD earned himself a penalty and dispatched it straight past Ben Foster in the Birmingham goal. 3,500 Boltonians went crazy, and we began to sing ♫ Que Sera, Sera ♫ Little did I know that as I was singing this, ESPN were busy beaming me to viewers all around the world.
The game continued, and Bolton were on the back foot as Birmingham searched for an equaliser. Then on 80 minutes, Kevin Phillips lobbed Jussi Jaaskelainen with a brilliant goal.
Now personally I could not be bothered paying to see yet another FA Cup replay at The Reebok, so I really wanted us to score, but it looked unlikely.
Birmingham continued to pile on the pressure, and looked extremely dangerous. Hitting the post and having one cleared off the line. However, Bolton decided to go back to playing as Bolton do. If you’re not familiar with the Bolton way of playing it involves; A defender hoofing it forwards, somebody knocking it down, and a striker finishing.
It was the 93rd minute. The defender was Paul Robinson. Kevin Davies was the man knocking it down. The striker was Lee Chung-Yong. (Just add these names into the description of a Bolton goal above).
We went absolutely mental. We could not believe that Bolton were actually going to Wembley! I felt like crying… In a manly way of course. By the time we had finished celebrating St. Andrew’s was already empty.
Walking out of the stadium, the cocky steward was in hiding and the resident yobs were throwing rocks at bottles at us. It was a long, tiring walk back to New Street Station, but it was a joyous one at that!
I don’t intend on visiting St. Andrew’s again in the near future. It is a great stadium, worthy of Premierleague football, but I don’t take a liking to it.
- DISTANCE TRAVELLED TO GROUND: 91 miles
- PROGRAMME PRICE: £3