There are some moments that make you feel proud to be a Blues fan. Darren Carter’s penalty, Obafemi Martins’ goal in the League Cup final, and Paul Caddis’ stoppage-time goal at Bolton on the last day of the season. These are the moments that give us goose bumps. Moments that represent exactly what this club is about. Fighting ‘til the end, never-say-die, Keeping Right On.
We’re always the underdog, and with what our club has been through over the last few seasons, by sticking together and encouraging our players to leave every ounce of sweat on the pitch, we’ve got through some tough moments.
Yet what happened yesterday has caused most of us to hang our heads in shame. And today’s back (and front) pages make for pretty grim reading.
Blues v V*lla is a proper derby. Fiery from the get go, tough tackles and passionate fans. The vast majority of us know where the line is, but for some, the push it so far that they think crossing the white line is acceptable.
Jack Grealish is a fantastic footballer, annoyingly so. He bossed the reverse fixture in November, so a lad V*lla born-and-bred was always going to relish the opportunity to do the same again.
He was booed from his first touch of the ball, but the game hadn’t really got going until someone ran onto the pitch and hit him. And then when the inevitable happened and he went on to score what turned out to be the winner, it appears that one of our own stewards also attacked him.
What possessed these two people to do what they did? How the incidents were allowed to happen? And what punishment Blues should face? These are all questions I can’t answer.
What I do know is that these two “fans” don’t represent Blues. The photo of our players helping Grealish after the first incident, knowing that something unforgivable had just happened to one of their fellow professionals, is a far truer reflection.
Garry Monk’s post-match comments and the statement issued by the club all strike the right tone. The connection between Monk, the club and the fans is stronger than I can ever remember. The gaffer, though, will be furious that people calling themselves Blues fans could do what they did.
There’s talk of a points deduction, in addition to the one we’re already facing due to FFP rules, or being forced to play our next few home games behind closed doors as a punishment.
I don’t know what punishment fits these crimes. However it’s going to be a miserable feeling to see our club’s name being dragged through the mud during the analysis over the next few days.
We seemed to have turned a corner with Monk. A great young manager bringing a sense of cohesion to the club, a last-day relegation battle looking far from likely for May, and players playing with the dogged tenacity that wearing a blue shirt demands.
Yet today, as the footballing world questions what should be done to Blues and how players can be better protected, all we can do is Keep Right On… To Wednesday. Against Milwall. Always a quiet one.