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Club History.

By Todd Grainger
January 4 2006


The club was formed in September as Small Heath Alliance by a group of young cricketers from Holy Trinity CC based in Bordesley Green in order to maintain sporting activities all year round. 
They played their first game in November, a 1-1 draw against Holte Wanderers of Aston at waste ground on Arthur Street - their first ground.


The Heathens, as they were then known, moved to their first enclosed ground in Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook (capacity 3,000) due to a need to gain revenue.


As the club quickly outgrew their new home they moved to the Muntz Street ground in Small Heath on the 11th of September which was rented from the Gressey family for 5 a season (this figure increased substantially over the next few years). The ground could then hold 10,000 spectators.


The first ever match against Aston Villa was played which Small Heath won by 'one goal, and a disputed goal to nil' at Muntz Street.


Their first FA Cup tie was played although it was then known as The English Cup.


Due to the poor condition of the pitch at Muntz Street, Wednesbury Old Athletic made an offer of 5 to switch their Walsall Senior Cup tie to Wednesbury. The Heathens accepted the offer and went on to win the match 4-1 and eventually the trophy itself - their first honour.


Because the players could not afford to take time off work to play and train, professionalism was adopted in August - the first club to make this step. It was agreed to pay the players one half of the net gate money and they received 1s 11d each on their first pay day.


Small Heath reached their very first FA Cup semi-final, losing 4-0 to WBA.


The club became a limited liability company on the 24th of July (the first in the country to do so) with a share capital of 650 in 10 shilling shares. 
They also became Small Heath Football Club Limited after the Alliance part of the name was dropped. 
Another first this year was the introduction of a Board of Directors.


Small Heath were elected to become founder members of The Football Alliance. 
After their first year in business Chairman Walter Hart announced a considerable profit which enabled a 5% dividend to be paid to the club's shareholders.


Due to an unregistered player being used, Small Heath were disqualified from the FA Cup although they had won two matches by the time that it was noticed.


A public meeting was held to drum up enthusiasm in the club. The meeting was a success as 207 extra shares were issued.


Small Heath became founder members of Division 2 of the Football League as the Alliance was added to it's structure.


They were champions in the inaugural season (scoring 90 goals in 22 matches) but failed to beat Newton Heath after a replay in a Test Match (the equivalent of today's play-offs) and therefore failed to gain promotion.


Small Heath finally achieved promotion, beating Darwen in a Test Match. In recognition of this achievement 1,000 fans were waiting at New Street Station to greet the team's train which had the club's colours of blue and white draped around the funnel. 
The first Division 1 game was a 1-2 defeat by Aston Villa.


Small Heath paid 275 to William Gessey for the lease to Muntz Street. The lease had 11 years left before expiry.


After only two seasons Small Heath were relegated to Division 2 despite having beaten Manchester City 8-0 in a Test Match which were now played on a league rather than challenge basis.


A new stand, which was bought off Aston Villa for 90, was erected at the Muntz Street end of the ground.


Over four consecutive games in league and cup Small Heath score 35 goals.


After a period of financial uncertainty a profit of 755 18s 1d was announced.


The money problems returned as the loss this year was more than 800.


Small Heath return to Division 1 as Division 2 runners-up, but the stay was a brief one.


Relegated to Division 2.


Blues quickly returned back to Division 1.
27 new turnstiles were added to the ground.


The club was offered the lease to Muntz Street for a further 10 years which had by then been increased in capacity to 30,000.


The club's most successful season yet as they won three local competitions; the Birmingham Senior Cup, The Lord Mayor Of Birmingham's Charity Cup and the Staffordshire Senior Cup as well as finishing 7th in Division 1. 
This was Small Heath's last season under that name as a move to change the club's name to Birmingham FC was carried unanimously at an Extraordinary General Meeting in March, although the initial proposal to name the club Birmingham City was rejected. 
Also this year was the first indication in the club records that a change of ground was possible as the club was outgrowing Muntz Street. Director Harry Morris reported to his colleagues the possibility of renting the St. Andrew's site, a piece of wasteland off Garrison Lane, Bordesley Green. Unusually, plans for the new ground were prepared by a carpenter called Harry Pumfrey, the brother of former Blues full-back Bernard Pumfrey. The decision was then made to proceed with the lease of the new site. The club's Articles of Association were then changed to enable an issue of debentures to finance the purchase and construction of the new ground. 
It was also this year that Blues beat Aston Villa for the first time in a league match, the result was a 2-0 home win.


Blues signed a 21 year lease on the new site and work began on the development. A grandstand was built on the Garrison Lane side and the two ends were open to the elements. Impressed by Liverpool's Spion Kop the directors decide to go one better and build an equivalent, but on the side rather than the end. The bank is built up by allowing locals to tip their rubbish on the site - approximately 100,000 loads of rubbish were dumped, bringing in 800 in income to the club. The completed ground, known as St Andrew's had a capacity of 75,000 and had cost 10,000. There are no contemporary reports of gypsies being ousted from the site - this seems to arise at a later date. Work progressed at such a rate that an official opening date of Boxing Day was announced. A heavy snowfall on Christmas Day threatened to postpone the opening, but volunteers helped in clearing the pitch in time for the game. Sir John Holder kicked off the Division1 fixture against Middlesbrough, but the first game finished goal less in front of a crowd of 32,000. The first goal at St. Andrew's was scored three days later by Benny Green who was rewarded with a piano for his efforts.


The first FA Cup match was played at St. Andrew's, a semi-final between Woolwich Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday which Wednesday won 3-1. 
Despite the cost of work on the new ground the club made a respectable profit of 1,032 17s 3d.


Blues' first FA Cup match at St. Andrew's, a 1-2 defeat by WBA. 
After complaints by visiting teams the crown on the pitch was reduced during the close season. 
Blues are relegated to Division 2.
The first Secretary/Manager of Blues, Alec Watson, was appointed.


Blues' finished bottom of Division 2 but topped the re-election poll. 
Blues appointed their first team manager with responsibilty for team selection, former player Bob McRoberts. Prior to this the team was selected by a committee comprising of the captain, secretary and various other club officials.


Blues' participate in their first overseas tour which was a boat trip to Denmark.
The first roof was erected to cover the Spion Kop.
Club captain Frank Womack was offered a bribe of 55 guineas to fix the home match against Grimsby but he reported the matter to club officials who in turn informed the police.


War broke out but league and cup football continued as normal for this season only.


Frank Richards was appointed secretary-manager.


Secretary Frank Richards forgot to submit the club's FA Cup application form so for the first and only time since entering the competition they were not included in the draw.


Blues bought the freehold of St Andrew's for less than 7,000.
Blues were champions of Division 2 and therefore gained promotion to Division 1.


Former player Billy Beer was placed in charge of team affairs.


The first foreign opponents play in a friendly at St. Andrew's. Real Madrid of Spain were the guests and were beaten 3-0.


Ex-player Bill Harvey was appointed manager.


Leslie Knighton was appointed manager.


Blues reached the FA Cup Final for the first time as well as making their first Wembley appearance but they lost the game 2-1 to West Bromwich Albion. Joe Bradford scored in every round that Blues took part in.


Another former player, George Liddell was appointed manager and Harry Morris became chairman.


The first roofs were erected above the Railway End and the Tilton Road stand.


The record attendance at St. Andrew's was achieved as 67,341 spectators were admitted for the FA Cup tie against Everton. 
After 18 seasons in the top division Blues were relegated to Division 2.
War commenced halting the League programme after 3 games and St Andrews was closed by Birmingham's Chief Constable, who believed that matches would constitute a safety risk. 
Bill Camkin was appointed Honorary Managing Director, he held this position for most of the war years during which time he ran not only the team but the whole club.


The closure was rescinded after an appeal by the City Council. 
Harry Hibbs was honoured at the end of an outstanding career with a Benefit Match against Aston Villa. This was the first ever wartime benefit game.


The England v Wales wartime International was played at St. Andrew's. England win 2-1 with Blues player Don Dearson missing a penalty for Wales.


The Main Stand was destroyed by an unfortunate accident. A member of the Auxiliary Fire Service in an attempt to douse a fire with a brazier of water found that it contained petrol with tragic consequences. 
In a separate incident the Railway End burnt down, taking with it the scoreboard (the largest in the League at the time) and the clock. 
Blues temporarily played their home games at Villa Park.


Blues moved back to St. Andrew's but the players had to change in a nearby factory.


It was this year on the 1st of July that the club was renamed Birmingham City. 
Ted Goodier was appointed caretaker manager.


Harry Storer succeeds Ted Goodier as manager.


Blues won the Football League South and reached the FA Cup semi-finals. 
The Spion Kop was re-roofed and a temporary stand was built on the Garrison Lane side of the ground.


Promoted to Division 1 as champions of Division 2 conceding only 24 goals (including only 11 away) all season.


Bob Brocklebank became manager.


Relegated to Division 2.


Blues were losing FA Cup semi-finalists again.


A new main stand was built and former player Arthur Turner was appointed manager.


Blues were promoted to Division 1 as champions of Division 2. 
They were accepted as Birmingham's (a European Fair city) representatives in the inaugural Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.


This was probably Blues' most memorable season ever. They reached their second, and last, FA Cup final (without playing a home tie), this time the opposition was Manchester City but Blues lost 3-1. They also achieved their highest ever league position - 6th in Division 1 which still stands as a club record. 
Floodlights were installed and the occasion was commemorated with a friendly game against Borussia Dortmund, a 3-3 draw. 
It was also this year that that the fans adopted the song 'Keep Right On To The End Of The Road' as their anthem which they still sing to this day.


Blues once again reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.


Blues were innovators once more as Pat Beasley was appointed joint manager alongside Arthur Turner. Turner, unhappy with the situation quit later that year leaving Beasley to take sole responsibility.


The Jeff Hall Memorial Scoreboard was installed in the corner of the ground between the Railway End and the Kop.


Another former player, Gil Merrick took over as manager. 
Blues reached the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup against Barcelona. The first leg ended in a 0-0 draw but Blues lost the second leg 4-1 to finish runners-up.


Blues reached their second successive Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final, this time against Roma. The first leg ended 2-2 but again Blues lost the second leg 2-0 to again finish runners-up.


Blues won the League Cup by beating Aston Villa 3-1 in the first leg and drawing the second leg 0-0. 
The City Stand was built at the Railway End of the ground.


Gil Merrick was replaced by Joe Mallett as manager.


Cliff Coombes became Chairman of the club and former Wolves manager Stan Cullis was appointed manager. 
Relegated to Division 2.


Blues were League Cup semi-finalists. 
The youth team were beaten over two legs in the final of the FA Youth Cup.


Blues reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.


A large clock was built in the corner of the ground between the Kop and the City Stand. 
Freddie Goodwin took over as manager and gave Trevor Francis his debut as a 16 year old.


Blues were promoted to Division 1 and were FA Cup semi-finalists. The current club badge (the globe and ball)  was introduced replacing the city's coat of arms. It was the winning entry of a competition organised in the Sports Argus newspaper and was designed by a local supporter.


Blues narrowly failed to make it to Wembley for the FA Cup Final, losing to a Fulham goal in the last minute of extra time in the semi-final replay.
Keith Coombes succeeded his father as chairman. 
Freddie Goodwin was sacked and his assistant Willie Bell took over as caretaker manager. After a successful spell in temporary charge he was handed the position permanently.


Executive boxes were added to the Main Stand.


Willie Bell was sacked and director and former England manager Sir Alf Ramsey took over.


Ramsey retired due to ill health allowing Jim Smith to become manager.


Blues were relegated to Division 2. 
Trevor Francis was sold to Nottingham Forest for 975,000 - an English record fee. 
Life long Blues supporter and comedian Jasper Carrott joined the board.


Promoted back to Division 1.


Jim Smith was sacked and was replaced by former Aston Villa manager Ron Saunders which provoked Jasper Carrott into resigning from the board.


Relegated to Division 2.


Promoted back to Division I as Division 2 runners-up.


Blues were once more relegated to Division 2. 
John Bond replaced Ron Saunders as manager and Keith Coombes resigned as Chairman being replaced by former Walsall Chairman Ken Wheldon. Wheldon announced that the club was deeply in debt and as a consequence several staff left.


Former player Garry Pendrey replaced John Bond as manager.


The club's Elmdon training ground was sold for 350,000 plus 30% of the development profits in an attempt to keep the club afloat.


Relegated to Division 3 for the first time in the club's history. 
Chairman Ken Wheldon announced that he was selling his controlling interest in the club which was subsequently bought by the Kumar brothers for 1.6m. 
Dave Mackay was appointed manager after a disappointing period under Garry Pendrey.


Blue won the Leyland DAF Trophy at Wembley. 
Blues had three different managers in a year, Lou Macari took over from Dave Mackay but left four months later to manage Stoke City. Terry Cooper was then appointed manager after Bill Coldwell had been in charge temporarily during the summer.


Blues were promoted from Division 3 to Division 1 as the Divisions were renumbered due to the formation of the FA Premier League. 
The club was placed in the hands of the receiver as the Kumar brothers' textile business collapsed. 
Jack Wiseman became chairman.


Millionaire publisher David Sullivan and his partners David and Ralph Gold bought the club for 1.7m immediately appointing Karren Brady as football's first female Managing Director. 
Later that year t hey appointed Barry Fry as manager after Terry Cooper had resigned.

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