Birmingham City Football Club (, locally ) is a professional association football club based in the city of Birmingham, England. Formed in 1875 as Small Heath Alliance, they became Small Heath in 1888, then Birmingham in 1905, finally becoming Birmingham City in 1943.〔Matthews, ''Encyclopedia'', 'Club name', p. 55. "City was added to Birmingham (to make Birmingham City Football Club) in the summer of 1943 (and not 1945 as previously thought). The official Blues home programmes for the 1943–44 season clearly show Birmingham City Football Club on the front cover."〕 They compete in the Football League Championship, the second tier of league football in England.
As Small Heath, they played in the Football Alliance before becoming founder members and first ever champions of the Football League Second Division. The most successful period in their history was in the 1950s and early 1960s. They achieved their highest finishing position of sixth in the First Division in the 1955–56 season and reached the 1956 FA Cup Final, progressed to the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1960 and 1961, and won their first major trophy, the League Cup, in 1963, beating Aston Villa 3–1 on aggregate. They won the latter competition for the second time in 2011. They have played in the top tier of English football for the majority of their history.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Birmingham City )〕 Their longest period spent outside the top division, between 1986 and 2002, included two brief spells in the third tier of the English League, during which time they twice won the Football League Trophy.
St Andrew's has been their home ground since 1906. They have a long-standing and fierce rivalry with Aston Villa, their nearest neighbours, with whom they play the Second City derby. The club's nickname is Blues, due to the colour of their kit, and their fans are known as Bluenoses.
== History ==
Birmingham City were founded as Small Heath Alliance in 1875, and from 1877 played their home games at Muntz Street. The club turned professional in 1885,〔 and three years later became the first football club to become a limited company with a board of directors, under the name of Small Heath F.C. Ltd.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', p. 8.〕 From the 1889–90 season they played in the Football Alliance, which ran alongside the Football League. In 1892, Small Heath, along with the other Alliance teams, were invited to join the newly formed Football League Second Division. They finished as champions, but failed to win promotion via the test match system; the following season promotion to the First Division was secured after a second-place finish and test match victory over Darwen. The club adopted the name Birmingham Football Club in 1905, and moved into their new home, St Andrew's Ground, the following year.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 12–13.〕 Matters on the field failed to live up to their surroundings. Birmingham were relegated in 1908, obliged to apply for re-election two years later, and remained in the Second Division until after the First World War.〔
Frank Womack's captaincy and the creativity of Scottish international playmaker Johnny Crosbie contributed much to Birmingham winning their second Division Two title in 1920–21.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', p. 14.〕 Womack went on to make 515 appearances, a club record for an outfielder, over a twenty-year career.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 135–36.〕 1920 also saw the debut of the 19-year-old Joe Bradford, who went on to score a club record 267 goals in 445 games, and won 12 caps for England.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', p. 74.〕 In 1931, manager Leslie Knighton led the club to their first FA Cup Final, which they lost 2–1 to Second Division club West Bromwich Albion. Though Birmingham remained in the top flight for 18 seasons, they struggled in the league, with much reliance placed on England goalkeeper Harry Hibbs to make up for the lack of goals, Bradford excepted, at the other end.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 15–17.〕 They were finally relegated in 1939, the last full season before the Football League was abandoned for the duration of the Second World War.
The name Birmingham City F.C. was adopted in 1943.〔 Under Harry Storer, appointed manager in 1945, the club won the Football League South wartime league and reached the semifinal of the first post-war FA Cup. Two years later they won their third Second Division title, conceding only 24 goals in the 42-game season.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 22–23.〕 Storer's successor Bob Brocklebank, though unable to stave off relegation in 1950, brought in players who made a major contribution to the club's successes of the next decade.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', p. 61.〕 When Arthur Turner took over as manager in November 1954, he made them play closer to their potential, and a 5–1 win on the last day of the 1954–55 season confirmed them as champions.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 27–29.〕 In their first season back in the First Division, Birmingham achieved their highest league finish of sixth place. They also reached the FA Cup final, losing 3–1 to Manchester City in the game notable for City's goalkeeper Bert Trautmann playing the last 20 minutes with a broken bone in his neck. The following season the club lost in the FA Cup semifinal for the third time since the war, this time beaten 2–0 by Manchester United's "Busby Babes".〔
Birmingham became the first English club side to take part in European competition when they played their first group game in the inaugural Inter-Cities Fairs Cup competition on 15 May 1956; they went on to reach the semifinal where they drew 4–4 on aggregate with Barcelona, losing the replay 2–1. They were also the first English club side to reach a European final, losing 4–1 on aggregate to Barcelona in the 1960 Fairs Cup final and 4–2 to A.S. Roma the following year.〔 In the 1961 semifinal they beat Internazionale home and away; no other English club won a competitive game in the San Siro until Arsenal managed it more than 40 years later. Gil Merrick's side saved their best form for cup competitions. Though opponents in the 1963 League Cup final, local rivals Aston Villa, were pre-match favourites, Birmingham raised their game and won 3–1 on aggregate to lift their first major trophy. In 1965, after ten years in the top flight, they returned to the Second Division.
Businessman Clifford Coombs took over as chairman in 1965, luring Stan Cullis out of retirement to manage the club. Cullis's team played attractive football which took them to the semifinals of the League Cup in 1967 and the FA Cup in 1968, but league football needed a different approach. Successor Freddie Goodwin produced a team playing skilful, aggressive football that won promotion as well as reaching an FA Cup semifinal.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 37–38, 63.〕 Two years later, the club raised money by selling Bob Latchford to Everton for a British record fee of £350,000, but without his goals the team struggled.〔
Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 38–39, 209–15.〕 Sir Alf Ramsey briefly managed the club before Jim Smith took over in 1978. With relegation a certainty, the club sold Trevor Francis to Nottingham Forest, making him the first player transferred for a fee of £1 million; Francis had scored a total of 133 goals in 329 appearances over his nine years at Birmingham.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', p. 88.〕 Smith took Birmingham straight back to the First Division, but a poor start to the 1981–82 season saw him replaced by Ron Saunders, who had just resigned from league champions Aston Villa. Saunders' team struggled to score goals and in 1984 they were relegated.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 42, 219.〕 They bounced back up, but the last home game of the 1984–85 promotion season, against Leeds United, was marred by rioting, culminating in the death of a boy when a wall collapsed on him. This was on the same day as the Bradford City stadium fire, and the events at St Andrew's formed part of the remit of Mr Justice Popplewell's inquiry into safety at sports grounds. The club lacked stability both on and off the field. Saunders quit after FA Cup defeat to non-League team Altrincham, staff were laid off, the training ground was sold, and by 1989 Birmingham were in the Third Division for the first time in their history.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 44–46.〕
In April 1989 the Kumar brothers, owners of a clothing chain, bought the club.〔 A rapid turnover of managers, the absence of promised investment, and a threatened mass refusal of players to renew contracts was relieved only by a victorious trip to Wembley in the Associate Members Cup.〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 48–49.〕 Terry Cooper delivered promotion, but the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) put the Kumars' businesses into receivership; in November 1992 BCCI's liquidator put up for sale their 84% holding in the football club. The club continued in administration for four months, until publisher David Sullivan bought it for £700,000, installed the then 23-year-old Karren Brady as managing director and allowed Cooper money for signings. On the last day of the season, the team avoided relegation back to the third tier,〔Matthews, ''Complete Record'', pp. 48–52.〕 but after a poor start to the 1993–94 season Cooper was replaced by Barry Fry. The change did not prevent relegation, but Fry's first full season brought promotion back to the second tier as champions, and victory in the Football League Trophy at Wembley, beating Carlisle United with a Paul Tait golden goal, completed the "lower-league Double". After one more year, Fry was sacked to make way for the return of Trevor Francis.
Francis introduced players with top-level experience such as Manchester United skipper Steve Bruce. In his second season the club narrowly missed out on a play-off position, followed by three years of play-off semifinal defeats.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=BCFC club history )〕 They also reached the 2001 League Cup final against Liverpool at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Birmingham equalised in the last minute of normal time, but the match went to a penalty shootout which Liverpool won. By October 2001, lack of progress had made Francis's position untenable. After a 6–0 League Cup defeat to Manchester City, he left by mutual consent, replaced two months later by Steve Bruce. Bruce shook up a stale team, taking them from mid-table into the play-offs where they beat Norwich City on penalties to win promotion to the Premier League.
Motivated by the inspirational Christophe Dugarry, Birmingham's first top-flight season for 16 years finished in mid-table. Loan signing Mikael Forssell's 17 league goals helped Birmingham to a top-half finish in 2003–04, though performances and results tailed off badly towards the end of the season. First-team coach Mark Bowen was sacked and replaced by Eric Black, international players were signed, but an injury to Forssell left the 2004–05 team struggling for goals. More transfer window loan signings ensured another mid-table finish. Only two months later, chairman David Gold said it was time to "start talking about being as good as anyone outside the top three or four" with "the best squad of players for 25 years". Injuries, lack of form, and a lack of investment during the transfer window saw them relegated before the last game of a season whose lowlight was a 0–7 FA Cup defeat to Liverpool. Jermaine Pennant and Emile Heskey left for record fees, many more were released, but Bruce retained the confidence of the board. His amended recruitment strategy, combining young "hungry" players with free-transfer experience and shrewd exploitation of the loan market, brought automatic promotion at the end of a season which had included calls for his head.
In July 2007, Hong Kong-based businessman Carson Yeung bought 29.9% of shares in the club, making him the biggest single shareholder, with a view to taking full control in the future. Uncertain as to his future under possible new owners, Bruce left in mid-season to become manager of Premier League rivals Wigan Athletic. His successor, Scotland national team manager Alex McLeish, was unable to stave off relegation, but achieved promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt, and a ninth-place finish, their best for 51 years, the following season. In 2011, they combined a second victory in the League Cup, defeating favourites Arsenal 2–1 with goals from Nikola Žigić and Obafemi Martins and securing qualification for the Europa League, with relegation back to the second tier. McLeish resigned in June 2011 to join Aston Villa. Successor Chris Hughton narrowly failed to reach the knockout rounds of the Europa League and the playoff final before, with the club in financial turmoil and under a transfer embargo, leaving for Norwich City in June 2012. Under Lee Clark, Birmingham twice retained their divisional status, albeit through Paul Caddis's 93rd-minute goal in the last match of 2013–14 to avoid relegation on goal difference. After a continuation of the poor form from the previous season, Clark was sacked in October 2014, to be replaced by Burton Albion manager and former Birmingham player Gary Rowett.
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