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Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

Posts Tagged ‘BCFC

Do they have a Gab-up plan?

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This was pointed out to me by a friend earlier, but it has had me wondering all night.

Earlier this week, reports in the local press reported that Agbonlahor would not be featuring in this weekends derby match, as he has failed to recover sufficiently from a routine operation at the start of the month. The report from the Birmingham Post is here

However, Talksport this morning spoke toa bookmaker about this match and as favourite for first goal scorer is Mr Agbonlahor.

As of 19:39 Friday 29th, here are the screencaps from a couple of bookies websites:


William Hill:

Ladbrokes: Agbonlahor 9/2

Paddypower: Agbonlahor 11/2

Coral: Not offering Agbonlahor for first goal scorer market

Perhaps I’m reading into this too much, but if he is 100% out of this weekends match, then why would bookmakers have such short odds on him being the first goal scorer. It’s a multi million pound market and football odds will be carefully calculated, otherwise bookmakers wouldn’t be able to make so much money off football betting.

So, do they know something we don’t and may Gabby somehow feature in the Halloween fixture, or have the bookies overlooked the fact he isn’t playing, considering they also give prices for Cameron Jerome as first goal scorer. (I am also presuming here that injury will prevent any him part of the action aswell)

I know someone will be along on twitter with a full explanation of why this is, but I thought it was interesting to point out anyway.

I’m intrigued. All will be revealed in less than 48 hours…


Written by Nicole Carroll

October 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Posted in Premier League

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Christmas is coming, and all I see is tat…

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With the Liverpool ownership saga overshadowing the up coming events of this weeks Premier League outings, I’m finding it hard to talk about our away trip to That London in the visit to Arsenal, so I’m throwing myself a curve ball and looking at off the field matters.

My family are  all Blues fans, we make no attempts to cover this up. It also makes it surprisingly easy to shop for my Blues loving relatives, as anything with the famous ball and world logo makes a present instantly fantastic.

I’m struggling this year though. I know that it is only October and many people hate talking about the dirty C word this early, but I’m an organised lady. I’m the sort of girl who likes to have all the presents wrapped up by the second week of November, so the run up to Christmas can be filled with drinking copious amounts of Baileys and enjoying the delights of Birmingham’s German market (big cookies, pretzels, doughnuts – yes please).

So, in my pursuit in finding something worthy to be bestowed on my family members, I’ve taken to surfing the club shop website but to be honest, I’m disappointed. More than disappointed in fact – it’s just, well the best word for it is probably naff.

Once you get past the replica kits, there seems to be a lack of clothes which are suitable, or even stuff that most people will wear.

T-shirts with polaroid designs on the front. Old fashioned polo shirts.  Jumpers which don’t seem to come in any other option than “chav striped”.

When you get past the clothing, it seems to get worse however. Novelty dog name plates. Door signs. Lampshade covers. Gold plated jewellery.

It just disappoints me so much, because with a captive audience of Blues fans, we could be doing it so much better. However, I do have to ask myself, what do football fans really want to see in their own club shops? I’m not really sure if I can answer that.

The problem is, that unlike other retail establishments, Blues have a range of ages to cater for, a range of different tastes and both male and females to try and entice with their wears. You have the young male supporters, who are usually adorned in designer brands, to try and tempt away from their logo’d attire, as well as the normal bloke on the street who just wants something to wear that represents his club at the same time.

Blues are never going to get it right, but perhaps a new philosophy should be brought to merchendising our own club shop.

Personally, if I’m going to offer up a suggestion, is for fewer ranges with some better quality pieces. Nice plain jumpers for men with a small Blues logo – nothing tacky, something you could wear over a shirt and not instantly recognise it’s a piece of official merchandise.

If Blues are going to sell jewellery, such as the gold pendants that many fans choose to wear, then why not form links with local businesses to supply good quality jewellery through the club shop. With a club so close to the Jewellery Quarter, then surely something could be sorted so fans have the chance to buy real gold pendants, and for the club to benefit from this, as well as forming good links with local jewellers?

A lot of people won’t see my point, but I think that if Blues want to push forwards and present themselves well to potential foreign fans, that any online club shop needs to be of a quality that matches a Premier League club.

Here’s my question though: Do you know of any club that produce a good standard of club memorabilia? Does it really matter? Comments below as usual


Written by Nicole Carroll

October 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Proceed with caution

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Sometimes, a season can seem to go wrong in the same space of time that good fruit turns to mush. This almost seems to be one of those times.

Although, on paper, we’ve had a good draw with Liverpool and have picked up a few points on the road, the statistics make us look bleak. In our last 17 Premier League matches, we’ve won twice.

Despite final day masterstrokes by the maestro that is McLeish, we haven’t found the winning formula of the “unbeatable” squad of last season. The team that never gave up, the team which almost always seemed to be able to turn a bad situation into a draw.

If anything, we’ve reverted. We’ve even shown glimpses of being exactly the opposite of the unbeatables team, letting leads slip away from our grasp as was the case against Bolton.

A lack of goals and poor performances does not a happy Blues fan make.

I think most people can fall into two camps right now. I’ll name them, the “Let’s see at Christmas gang”, and “We’ll be relegated by November tribe”.

Let’s see at Christmas followers like to see a bigger picture. They can see beyond the form and results of the early part of the season, and believe that the league table will take its shape in December and it is simply too early to call for doom and gloom tales to fall onto the club.

The ‘We’ll be relegated by December’ tribe feel that the current form will indicate how our season will pan out. On paper and on the pitch, we’re starting to struggle, and we’ll find ourselves deep in a dogged relegation battle. By the time Christmas comes, it’ll be too late to turn it around.

I hope there are a third set of fans though. The ones who are happy to proceed with caution. I think I roughly fall into this. I won’t lie – alarm bells are slowly rising in decibels in my mind, and I’m desperately hoping the next win should get us back on track to winning ways. I do recognise however, that things need to change ASAP before any sort of rot sets in.

It’s quite scary for pundits to call Birmingham a real Premier League team, but title alone means nothing. The aim at the start of the season was to stay in the Premier League for a third consecutive season and throw off the tag as a yo-yo club. McLeish has a vision for the club, and it is a Premier League vision. 17th will do for me, but we need to work for it.

Alex McLeish is the best manager to be at Blues in living memory. We have one of the best squads to adorn the St. Andrews turf. Good ingredients supposedly equal the best results. Good things come to those that wait (I hope).

Written by Nicole Carroll

October 2, 2010 at 8:24 pm


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After a somewhat disappointing draw against Bolton, it can sometimes be difficult as a Blues fan to see the wider picture and keep our eyes on the overall game plan, which is obviously staying in the Premier League for yet another season.

As a match by match feature now, I’m proud to bring you to you, the reader, the stats-o-meter. I’m hoping that it can provide happiness when things seem to be going wrong for us, or it’ll point out the doom and gloom.

Quite frighteningly, we’re already 3 games into the season. Blues current points total of 5, made up of two draws and a win, is 1 point ahead of last seasons standings after 3 matches (LWD).

In my previous article, “Has the forty point benchmark disappeared?”,  my table pointed out that the average point tally for staying up in the Premier League is 38.1 points, but for safety’s sake, it is probably useful to say that we need 40 points to feel any sort of security in this league.

With 5 points on the board, we are 12.5% of the way to earning a third successive Premier League campaign, compared to 10% of the way at the same point last season.

Here is a random comparison between this and last season: This season we have scored 6 goals in the league, compared to one goal in the same number of games during the 2009/2010 season.

Written by Nicole Carroll

August 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Are twitter footy predictions the future?

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I’ve been on hiatus for a while. Life seems to get in the way sometimes, and I’ve taken a step back from being too involved with football and I’ve just observed everything happening around me.  Birmingham have started the season well, and the Premier League is seeing a flurry of goals and early excitement.

The return of the Premier League means I usually return to the bookies to write out my accumulator, stick on a pound, and hope my fortune is going to come to me sometime soon. Thus far, it hasn’t.

Football predictions can be quite fun though, it’s nice to see how unpredictable football really is sometimes, and if you can spy a shock result before it has even been played, then you could be on to a money maker.

In my inbox this afternoon was an email from Wisdom of Fans, a new twitter based football prediction game. As a keen member ofthe twitterati, I was interested by the concept of tweeting my predictions and seeing how good I really am at predicting matches (which I’m not). Even better, at this moment in time their are cash prizes for the best predictor.

This isn’t an endorsement, rather it is an experiment. In the age of social medias such as twitter, can a service like this catch on? The nifty thing I’ve found by searching and playing with the site for ten minutes is that you can search for fellow twitter users and view how they are doing – perhaps friendly rivalries will fuel the popularity of such a site?

Football is the main interest to me quite naturally, however, these side show type games are always welcome, and it should be quite interesting to see whether the idea of sport and social media can cross over effectively to become a service which is widely known.

For anyone interested, my own predictions for this week can be viewed on my page here.

Written by Nicole Carroll

August 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Girls know nothing about football

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I’m incensed and enraged. I’ve spat out my morning tea and have almost choked on my toast whilst digesting today’s football news.

I shouldn’t be getting wound up about what I’m going to talk about, because its link with football is almost farcical, but I will continue to wind myself up over it.

This morning I was pointed towards this article at hereisthecity, entitled “Birmingham City Fans usually have big bellies“. If you don’t want to read the drivel, the basic premise for this article is Ivana Takitall is rating all 20 Premier League clubs according to the male fans attractiveness.

The delightful article then goes to rate each clubs fans, with no fact or reasoning flung in. Just 20 paragraphs of made up stuff about the respective male fans of each clubs. One thing I get a whiff of here is the fact she’s probably a Cockney bird or a Cockney wannabe bird, seeing as on the whole she generally gives London clubs male fans the massive thumbs up, for example Fulham, “A Fulham supporter is every girl’s dream. Well off, daft as a brush, and able to go like a train for hours” although she is massively disparaging about Chelsea “In the same way that many Chelsea fans arrived from other clubs without warning, so Chelsea man will often return home after a visit to another man’s wife. Don’t trust him, or at least accept him for what he is – a selfish, flash-harry with a Narcissus complex.”

Just by reading the pieces title, you know she isn’t going to be kind about Birmingham City, who she duly describes as “These men are a little more basic than their Brummie rivals. All those years letching after Karren Brady have take their toll. And so have all the pies and pints. The biggest thing about the average Birmingham City fan is unfortunately usually his belly”. Where is her proof that all Birmingham supporters are pie eating letches? Why doesn’t she provide the stats that show that all Birmingham loving males have big bellies? If anything, I’ve sat with some very nice looking young men at the football!

Even the opening statement is nothing more than obvious, “My research has led me to believe that couples are better off not going to watch matches together’, she continues, ‘As particularly younger men much prefer to watch their teams with their ‘proper’ mates, having a few drinks before and after the game, and stuffing pie and chips like it’s going out of fashion. Arguments can often ensue when a female partner wants to join in the fun. In many way, the perfect partner for the average football fan is one who actually dislikes football – that way, the guys will be free to support their team without any ‘interference’.”

How many people have you seen on a night out who go out as a couple and end up arguing? That is just life. Generally, couples and days out together do not mix. It only takes a snidey comment from one partner in front of the other partners friends to light the blue touch paper and it all goes up.

Saying that though, a football loving bird is sometimes a massive coup for some men. Sometimes, it is quite amusing to let the woman tear apart a friend’s football theory and their only comeback is “she’s a girl, what does she know about football?”.

I know many of you will be banging your heads against the wall right now, telling me I’ve missed the point. This is obviously a tongue in cheek piece, mildly mocking each football club, using small anecdotes about each club to validate the facts in some way. I must have had a sense of humour by pass this morning though, because it just isn’t funny.

Being a girl and writing about football is tough. Horribly tough. If you have an opinion on anything which is traditionally male, the response is usually to get back into the kitchen and have a sandwich, or people view you with massive suspicion. The only way to gain any respect as a female writing about football, in my opinion atleast, is to write about football topics that men want to hear about. On the pitch formations, transfer speculation, history of the club. Those kinds of subjects always go down well. Topics like what Takitall wrote today only add to the argument that girls really know nothing about football.

Written by Nicole Carroll

July 27, 2010 at 10:08 am

Can Blues strike gold with domestic loans?

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With clubs like Portsmouth feeling the financial strain of over spending, Premier League clubs will be keen to avoid huge transfer fees by taking advantage of the loan scheme.

Within the Premier League you can loan 2 players off a fellow club (but no two players from the same club). Last season Blues plumped for Manchester City’s Joe Hart which was arguably the Premier League loan of the season, and Sunderland’s Teemu Tainio who unfortunately sustained an injury which cut his season short.

Blues are very light in cover across all areas of the pitch, and we would be kidding ourselves as fans if we really believed that management could afford to buy players to cover all the areas we need. To ensure we have players to be able to last the season, allowing for injuries and fatigue, we’re looking at needing at least one centre half, a left back, a winger and a striker.

If McLeish could emerge from this window with two very decent loan signings in tow, it could go a long way to ensuring Premier League survival for a second season. Joe Hart was instrumental to this last season, but now we have Ben Foster as a permanent signing, we can somewhat relax and focus on strengthening the outfield areas.

Realistically, we’re looking at the teams above us loaning us an outstanding youngster, or perhaps players who have become surplus to requirement at the moment due to new players arriving at their clubs.

Perhaps, however, we could go knocking on Manchester City’s door again in the hope of taking defender Nedum Onuoha on loan. Despite playing semi regularly in 2008-2009, injuries and new arrivals to the club have now seen the young defenders chances limited. His team mate Joe Hart had only positive things to say about the club, perhaps if Blues knocked at the door he could be persuaded to visit the Midlands for 9 months. The fact he is versatile and can play in the centre and at right back would mean we had options at the back, especially if we are going to face injury problems this season.

An option to add to midfield and cover the left hand side of the pitch could be Portsmouth’s loan signing last season, Jamie O’Hara. He received good reviews for his season on the coast, and perhaps if he isn’t to focus in Harry Redknapps plans this season, then he could move to the Midlands to get regular football. If O’Hara wasn’t an option, then why not Danny Rose, the scorer of THAT screamer against Arsenal last season. Despite him getting on the score sheet, that was the only league appearance he made last season. Although he’s relatively unknown except for that goal, he must have something about him to be signed for the Spurs first team, perhaps a season at somewhere like Blues could really show what this young player is made of?

Can we loan someone with the talent of Mikael Forssell?

I’m not sure that a striker will be coming to Blues on loan from a fellow Premier League club. Blues struck lucky when they loaned Mikael Forssell from Chelsea and he went on to be a complete hit at St. Andrews. Blues dipped their toes into loaning a foreign striker in the shape of Christian Benitez, who struggled to set the league alight. It’s difficult to judge whether a player will translate their own domestic form into the Premier league, and even if they are outstanding, you run the risk that someone bigger is going to come along and buy them from under your nose.

Maybe this would be where, if McLeish was going to explore the options here, he would possibly talk to fellow manager Sir Alex Ferguson and perhaps see whether United had a young striker who was ready for first team Premier League experience. Signing someone on loan until January maybe could prove enough time to see whether a gamble could pay off. Loan moves like these when they work well are massively beneficial to all three parties, and if it works out well there is always a possibility that you could get the player permanently.

Whilst Blues are currently on tour in Asia, it seems highly unlikely that any new faces or much business will be conducted at all. By the time the players are back at Wast Hills, perhaps McLeish and his backroom staff will have identified some possible loan moves for Premier League players that they can slot into the squad for the start of the season. With teams like Manchester City spending in a big way, there perhaps will be talent that other clubs like Blues can take full advantage of to bolster the squad without any hard commitment.

Written by Nicole Carroll

July 17, 2010 at 12:01 am