Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

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bluedragon
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Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by bluedragon » Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:57 am

I am trying to find out the attendance at a floodlit friendly played at St Andrews, Birmingham on 16th March 1959 between Birmingham City and Irvine Meadow XI. Apparently Meadow were invited to fly down for the game as the top Junior team of the day. I have seen details of the match, press reports, etc but I have not been able to establish the attendance. I don't know if an attendance for a friendlly would be available? I have heard wildlly different accounts of the crowd. Any help or guidance would be very much appreciated.

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Re: Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by Scottish » Sun Sep 02, 2012 11:53 am

Don't know the crowd but Birmingham City's average league attendance that season was 26,686 which was 16th of the then 22 top flight clubs. I can't imagine it would be anywhere near that for a Monday night match against a Scottish Junior side most of their fans would never have heard of. The Evening Times report mentions that two of Blues forwards (from five) had first team experience. One of them was Dennis Harper who made just one league appearance in his entire career and the other was David Jones, later to become a prolific striker for Millwall, but at that time a teenager with less than a handful of appearances to his name.

That these were the most celebrated names in the Brum line-up suggests this was a reserve or even youth team. Birmingham City lost 3-0 at home to Wolves on March 14th (attendance 37,725) and won 4-2 at Leicester on March 18th. It's difficult to believe they fielded anything close to their first eleven in between those two league games. It's possible they misconstrued what 'Juniors' means in Scottish terms. Of course Meadow have made great play of it ever since (and why not?) about being invited down, all-expenses paid, to play an English First Division team.

I suspect the reality was rather different.

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Re: Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by bluedragon » Sun Sep 02, 2012 12:44 pm

Thanks for the reply. I had picked up that the game was postponed a couple of times and that Birmingham City were unsure who they had actually invited! However, as you have highlighted the timing of first team games before & after and the Blues team that was fielded suggests they knew by the time of the match! The intrigue about the attendance is that I had reports of a high attendance but have no indication of what "high" might mean! Floodlit matches would still have a certain novelty. Indeed in November 1957 St Andrews was the neutral venue that hosted a FA Cup 1st Round second replay between a Fourth Divison side and a non-league team that attracted a staggering 22,926. Thanks again for the background and detail.

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Re: Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by prorege » Sun Sep 02, 2012 5:51 pm

Irvine Meadow's Centenary History book states 'a huge crowd of Birmingham supporters turned out for the game'.

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Re: Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by ScottishFA » Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:00 pm

Funnily enough, the club history published in 1960 has the same words, except it was played under ideal conditions before 'a large crowd of Birmingham City supporters'. Large became huge over the intervening years...

The book also has a couple of great photos of the adventure, boarding the plane at 'Renfrew Airport' and also the players in their hotel in Birmingham, wearing suits and bow ties. Certainly enjoying the experience.

I've got the match programme for the game, which lists Meadow's honours, so City seemed to be well aware of who they were facing. Another with first team experience was the Scottish player Bill Hume (ex Whitburn juniors and Dunfermline Athletic), and also in the side was future N Ireland international Jim McLaughlin.

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Re: Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by bluedragon » Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:45 pm

Thanks for the detail and background.

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Re: Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by ScottishFA » Mon Mar 11, 2019 1:29 pm

To mark 60 years since the match, I've written a wee article about it: http://www.scottishsporthistory.com/spo ... birmingham

And thanks to newly digitised newspapers, the 'huge' crowd can be revealed as ... 3,200.

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Re: Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by bluedragon » Tue May 07, 2019 7:25 pm

The combination of air travel and Football League opposition probably makes this match unique for a Junior club.

Some other Junior flyers were:

1) Dundee East Craigie planned to fly to Campbeltown for a match before the Second World War but the project was abandoned.

2) Loanhead Mayflower chartered a plane when drawn away to Campbeltown United in the 5th round of the Junior Cup in 1957.

3) Renfrew supporters flew to Aberdeen to watch their club play Banks o' Dee in the Junior Cup on 15 February 1947! It looks like there was a small break in the very harsh winter of that year that allowed the fifth round game to be played. However, the players travelled by train or coach.

Haddington Athletic might have been the first Junior club to host a visit from a Football League club when they played Carlisle United on 29 April 1959. The match may been a result of Carlisle United’s Ronnie Tulloch being a former player and his father serving as secretary of the club. Carlisle United fielded a strong team that included England international Ivor Broadis who sadly passed away last month at the age of 96.

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Re: Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by gogsy1968 » Thu May 09, 2019 3:45 pm

I think Drumlembie Juniors (Campbelltown) flew to play St Andrews in the Scottish Cup during 59/60 season.

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Re: Birmingham City v Irvine Meadow XI

Post by bluedragon » Fri May 10, 2019 1:51 pm

gogsy1968 wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 3:45 pm
I think Drumlembie Juniors (Campbelltown) flew to play St Andrews in the Scottish Cup during 59/60 season.
Thanks Gogsy. I will add that to my unofficial list.

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