Craig Gardner’s little brother

Loan signings are like Super Bowl halftime shows (This is my desperate attempt to link an article to current events, just go with it) After watching the same bunch of blokes chase a ball for what feels like forever, a new element arrives to re-energise proceedings and add a spark of excitement.

If you’re lucky U2, Bruno Mars or Aerosmith will blow you away but every now and then you’re a little disappointed and once in a while, someone that appears to be great in the beginning ends up being pretty shocking and you find yourself just staring at a massive tit. Yes, Janet Jackson is the Jermaine Pennant of halftime shows.

We’ve had some decent short-stay loanees over the years. Names like Chucho, Joe Hart and Christophe Duggary spring to mind as personal favourites and often – as is the case with our World Cup winning maestro, these short spells evolve into more permanent fixtures at the club.

Other notable transfers that began their Birmingham City lives on loan include Maik Taylor, Seb Larsson and fan favourite Mikael Forssell.

Then there are those loan agreements that failed to live up to the hype – the Maroon 5 of loanees if you will… *cough* David Bentley *cough*. Putting in a Man of the Match performance against Witton will undoubtedly warm the hearts of the Blues faithful, but that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to just coast for the next 14 games David!

More recently, since the powers-that-be decided to wipe their arses with the FFP rule book, we’ve had to look in the transfer-list bargain bin and one hot ticket item in particular was clearly mislabelled…

Craig Gardner’s little brother spent his younger days with them down the road and has been on his travels since 2011. Landing temporary employment at the likes of Coventry, Forest and Barnsley, Lil’ Gards hasn’t actually donned the claret and blue all that often and by the end of this season he’s likely to have made more appearances for us than our rivals.

Witton may own a piece of paper with Gary’s name on it and their fans may have a plethora of proud photos and interviews swearing allegiance to the world’s most self entitled club but, dare I say it, he’s kind of becoming one of our own

He may be one of theirs technically but has only really spent one proper season around the first team and only bagged one goal. You may remember it…

Witton may own a piece of paper with Gary’s name on it and their fans may have a plethora of proud photos and interviews swearing allegiance to the world’s most self entitled club but, dare I say it, he’s kind of becoming one of our own.

Now obviously we can’t rewrite history. We can’t go back and pretend Gary never had a home at Villa Park, we can’t go back and pretend he didn’t run the full length of the pitch in celebration after scoring against us, and I can’t go back and reclaim the time wasted watching Maroon 5 bore 70,000 NFL fans.

The history is as it is. But what we can do concentrate on the present and look to the future.

Gary Gardner loves it at Blues. That’s not a direct quote as I’ve never spoken to the bloke, but I have it on good authority that he’s thoroughly enjoying his time as one of Monk’s men. Don’t take my word for it though, check out his Instagram page where every post is submitted with the #KRO hashtag. Read through his timeline and you’ll notice how “the blues” quickly becomes “us” and “we”. Obviously it’s his job to promote the club he’s working for, but he seems to do it with such a sense pride and passion that you’d be forgiven for assuming he’s a lifelong bluenose.

Loanees are usually sent out for 1 of 2 reasons. Either their parent club has no use for them anymore or they are cast away to gain a bit more experience before joining the main squad. This tends to lead some loanees to think more about their own achievements than that of the club. For some, Blues are just a stepping stone and a chance to show those back home what they can do. Jeremie Boga was a prime example of this.

Boga scored an absolute screamer at Sheffield United but other than that, didn’t really do a lot. Sure he made it LOOK like he did a lot, but his sole aim whenever the ball was at his feet was to dribble round as many defenders as possible in a vain attempt to impress. The word “pass” is not in his vocabulary and although I’ve been told that Boga does actually know what a cross is, without any actual evidence I’m afraid I cannot confirm this at the time of writing.

Gards-the-younger on the other hand is a team player. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s playing with his older brother for the first time in his career? Maybe it’s the fact that the Birmingham City fan base decided to give him a chance instead of getting on his back from day one? Maybe the current dressing room is just so much fun to be around? Whatever it is, Lil’ Gards plays for the team and it’s clear that the club’s success is paramount.

The club that is supposed to be his enemy, I might add.

Gary has been the model professional since arriving in the summer and I honestly believe that his attitude is down to so much more than just earning a wage. Whether Gazza Gards intended to or not, he’s become an honorary bluenose. Whether that’s for life remains to be seen but I’d like to think we’ve shown him enough respect and support that he’ll look back fondly on his time at St Andrews.

There are few loan signings that I feel the team will suffer without, but I often have to remind myself that Gary’s not actually a Birmingham City player.


And that’s a big yet. From what I’ve been told Lil’ Gards loves it here and the squad love having him here. With the hard-working David Davis set to make a return in the coming weeks we are soon to have the perfect midfield mix. Craig Gardner brings an experienced head to the game whilst the aforementioned Davis provides an almost inexhaustible passion and drive. Dutch Mike continues his hunt for blood and though it’s only a matter of time before he does a stretch at Her Majesty’s for GBH, he’s forced his way into the starting 11 and looks unlikely to lose his spot anytime soon. The missing ingredient was always someone that was willing to put their foot on the ball and look up. Someone with a sense of vision and timing that can play balls into flair players like Chele and Jota. In Gary Gardner, the recipe is complete.

Gary’s playmaking style have improved our midfield massively and his name HAS to be at the top of Monk & co’s transfer list. I doubt that there’s an ‘option to buy’ clause in his contract to be honest but as soon as this FFP nonsense is sorted, we MUST seek out a permanent transfer.

If we don’t, someone else will snap him up and grab themselves a bargain. Hell, I bet Witton wish they still had him in the dressing room since Greasy got injured. Maybe then they wouldn’t continue to get embarrassed by the likes of Wigan and Reading…

Photo Courtesy: Roy Smiljanic / BCFC


Mark Watson is a blogger, opinionist and podcast host. He was a finalist in the Football Blogging Awards in 2018 and his work has appeared on numerous websites and match day publications. He also host the weekly Fat Lads Go In Goal Podcast on WAB TV Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkWatson1875

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