BIRMINGHAM CITY 4 CITY 0
League Division 1
16th November 1974
scorers Kendall(10), Hatton(19 & 30), Burns(67)
Ref I Jones
City MacRae, Hammond, Donachie, Doyle, Barrett, Oakes, Summerbee, Bell, Marsh, Henson, Tueart – sub Leman(unused)
Birmingham Latchford, Martin, Styles, Kendall, Gallagher, Page, Campbell, Taylor, Burns, Hatton, calderwood – sub Pendrey(unused)
THE FOUR BRUM GOALS THAT DESTROYED CITY
A MEMORABLE MATCH an article written by Peter Gardner in the City programme 19th April 1977
Manager Tony Book boldly declared after this particularly humilating defeat against one of the First Division’s less conspicuous teams: “We will persevere with the same adventurous approach away from home. You might as well lose 4-0 as 1-0. So why not go out with the courage to entertain in the best traditions of a club with a reputation for playing attacking football?”
Even in those early days of the season City, like they are today, were challenging for the title. The difference then was that their claim was based entirely on an impressive home record which had seen them unbeaten at Maine Road in nine games—eight straight wins and a draw. The flaw was that their away slip was still showing with the Birmingham set back the fifth defeat of the campaign at that stage.
Yet a chance to lay a bogey of only eight victories in the last 51 League games was lost that day at St. Andrews. Birmingham were carelessly let off the hook in a game where City could have been two up within five minutes but instead found themselves three down after half an hour.
Here‘s how the see-saw went. Within seconds of the kick off the Blues could have been a goal ahead when Colin Bell pumped the ball through low for Dennis Tueart whose shot was picked up by Latchford. However, when the goalkeeper sent a short clearance to Martin, the full back was robbed by Rodney Marsh who tried to round Latchford, but was edged away. Even so Marsh retained possession, squaring the ball to Tueart whose shot was cleared off the line by Gallagher.
After a Willie Donachie shot had gone behind City had another gilt-edged chance with just four minutes gone. This time Mike Summerbee challenged Gallagher who passed back to his goalkeeper. Marsh sprinted forward, but dummied over the ball instead of trying to turn it past the Birmingham goalkeeper. They were incredible misses for which the Blues were to pay dearly later.
Not much later, however. For only ten minutes had gone when City were caught out trying to play the offside trap. They were too slow moving out and Styles cut in beating Keith MacRae to the ball as the City goalkeeper raced from his line. The ball broke. loose in the middle for Kendall who had all the time in the world to give his side the lead. City, now clearly struggling at the back, again paid the penalty in the 19th minute when they went two down. This time Colin Barrett was penalised for handling midway inside his own half and from Styles’s long cross to the far post, Burns beat Barrett in the air heading the ball across the face of goal for Hatton to score easily.
It was a shattering experience for City who had opened so confidently. But it was not the end of their problems. For there was more danger when Barrett, having a dreadful game, sent a headed clearance straight to Hatton. The Birmingham striker sent Burns through but fortunately for the‘ Blues his shot went behind.
City’s good luck did not last long. On the half hour Birmingham smoothly spring-boarded from defence to attack and increased their lead. A Tueart-Bell-Doyle move ended with the Blues winning a corner at Gallagher’s expense. Latchford took Summerbee’s cross first time and cleared upfield where Doyle was caught just inside his own half. He failed to get high enough to clear and Burns touched the ball on to Hatton who streaked away from the City defence dribbling round MacRae to coolly steer home goal number three.
Birmingham, with the bit firmly between their teeth, now proceeded to give City a roasting although the Blues did respond with fighting character and spirit in their endeavour to get back into a match which, however, was hopelessly beyond their reach. Latchford twice saved from Marsh but in the 67th minute any faint hopes of a City comeback were crushed completely. When Taylor was brought down by Donachie, he took the free kick himself crossing accurately for Burns to squeeze a header just inside a post.
Clearly questions had to be asked of a City defence which was too easily beaten by basic long ball tactics from a no more than average Birmingham side. The Midlanders had goals handed them on a plate by a side who also lacked sufficient midfield drive with only Bell turning in a worthwhile effort as City clearly missed the injured Asa Hartford. There were problems, too, for the attack at that stage with only eight goals scored in the 11 competitive matches prior to that blitz from Birmingham. It was indeed a game I’ll never forget . . . neither will the City team that day. Or manager Tony Book.