As this very real but preventable crisis continues to destroy our lifestyles, comparisons with history spring to mind. With the outbreak of World War II, the Football League was stopped immediately and replaced with other competitions within a week. That was, in Birmingham’s case, in spite of continual bombing for two and a half years. Because of its location among the most important munitions factories St Andrews was closed. St Andrews holds the record for the most bombed stadium in Britain. Birmingham FC carried on! The Luftwaffe posed a bigger terror than a snotty nose and headache. We were made of sterner stuff then.
The early sixties saw football terrorised by a phenomenon worse than the Blitz and COVID 19 combined. Sub zero temperatures combined with 2 feet of snow. It just stayed forever!
On the 5th January 1963 Blues were due to take on Third Division Bury in the FA Cup round III. The Christmas programme was already wiped out and Blues were struggling near the bottom of the First Division. They had reached the semi-final of the Football League Cup with a 6-0 thrashing of Manchester City but after a 2-2 draw at Orient on December 22nd Blues would not complete a match again until March 3rd when Bury held them 3-3 in the FA Cup. They had tried to get it done the week before but with Blues ahead 1-0 the temperatures dropped and the game abandoned at Half Time. Blues lost the replay at Gigg Lane 2-0. From the date of the draw Blues stayed in the Cup for 4 months.
Ironically Blues were to play Bury in the Football League Cup Semi Final and that was a tense affair played 20 days after the FA Cup tie and after 4 League games. The game was very similar to the previous St Andrews fixture. On a pitch not out of place at Weston Super Mare Blues managed this time to hang on to a goal lead to win 3-2. The second leg, their fifth meeting in a month was a 1-1 draw played 2 days after the Easter Monday League game.
After three months of postponements the season was extended by three and a half weeks. May 27th 1963 apart from being my twelfth birthday saw Blues lift the Football League Cup in the most satisfying of circumstances. Their season was finally over.
Normally the season nowadays finishes at the end of May after beginning the season on the first Saturday in August. We have the League Cup out the way so with no football until April 30th 2020 football should complete all games by the middle of June. Stop fretting guys you can always suspend your Sky subscription until footie comes back!
Back in 1963 there was not even Match of the Day so TV companies did not have to be considered. The football authorities got on with it without outside help and the government did absolutely nothing. We football fans were just at a loss although Rugby’s 5 nations matches were shown by BBC and England won the triple crown. For those not so keen on egg chasing we had the first series of Doctor Who and Flash Gordon on a Saturday afternoon. Perhaps one of those could come to our rescue today!