Where Are They Now: Birmingham City: 1979-80 Third Place Division Two
ALAN AINSCOW says that Blues players were almost too embarrassed to celebrate promotion to the top flight after blowing their chance to return to the First Division as champions.
Jim Smith’s side appeared to be coasting back into the top flight until only picking up four wins in their last 12 games of the season.
Ainscow was on target twice in one of those games, a crushing 5-1 victory over Chelsea but they were left hanging on to their promotion spot by their finger nails. The Blues were 3-1 up on the final day of the campaign against Notts County, who pulled it back to 3-3 before hitting bar in the closing stages.
A defeat would have left Chelsea second and Birmingham third, a place they would have lost when Sunderland won their final game of the season against West Ham nine days later.
“It was a bit of an anti climax. We were 3-1 up with 20 minutes left and everything was going to plan until they scored and scored again,” said Ainscow.
“Then in the last ten minutes they hit the bar, hit the post. In the end we scrambled a draw.
“When we got back into the dressing room it wasn’t quite as euphoric as you would have thought. Yes we had been promotion but we could so easily have been left in the Second Division.
“We were shell shocked because Notts County had battered us for the last ten minutes. We were so comfortable at 2-0. Eventually it pretty much sank in and the directors came in with champagne and we more or less got on with it.
“Our goal was promotion. I know things didn’t work out as we expected in that last game but we got there. We had just come down so it was good to get back at the first attempt.
“After you have played in the First Division there is no other league to play in. When you get that fixture list at the beginning of the season and you see Villa, Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal…
“It is fantastic going to places like that. But towards the end of that season we were there to be toppled. You cannot maintain top, top form for all 46 games as it was then, so you are going to have dips in form and that’s what happened.”
BACK ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
1. Pat Van Den Hauwe: Has been living in Cape Town, South Africa since 1995, coaching at FC Cape Town and Ikapa Sporting.
2. Don Givens: A youth coach at Neuchâtel Xamax, Arsenal and then U21 boss with Republic of Ireland for ten years until 2010 and is now the FAI’s chief scout.
3. Jeff Wealands: He worked in insurance before becoming a property developer and energy consultant. Now splits his time between Cheshire and Florida.
4. Neil Freeman: Returned to his native Northampton where he joined the police.
5. Keith Bertschin: After retiring he became an agent and has since worked under Steve Bruce at Birmingham, Wigan, Sunderland and now Hull City, where he is first team coach.
6. Tony Towers: Worked in the building industry and ran a pub before becoming manager of Prestwich and then Whitefield golf clubs.
MIDDLE ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
7. Alan Ainscow: After working in a sport centre, he managed a newsagents and worked for the Post Office before working as a delivery driver in Ormskirk.
8. Kevan Broadhurst: Has managed Northampton and Walsall, is now U15 and U16 coach in the Blues Academy.
9. Jimmy Calderwood: He has managed Willem II, NEC and Go Ahead Eagles in Holland, Dunfermline, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Ross County.
10. Joe Gallagher: Ran a hotel in Clitheroe until returning to the Birmingham area 18 years ago to work for Land Rover.
11. Kevin Dillon: Coached at Reading, scouted for Watford, Brighton and Sheffield Unite and managed Aldershot.
12. Alan Curbishley: Managed Charlton and West Ham but has been out of the game since 2008 and works in the media.
13. Mark Dennis: He has been a sign writer in Spain, director of football at Winchester City, assistant manager of Eastleigh, a radio presenter and has worked for the Post Office.
FRONT ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
14. Jim Smith: Managed teams including QPR, Newcastle, Blackburn and Oxford.
15. Tony Evans: Was community officer at Wolverhampton then became a social worker.
16. Malcolm Page: Retiring after 17 seasons with the club he worked in insurance and then for a civil engineering firm.
17. Archie Gemmill: Has coached at Nottingham Forest, managed Rotherham United, scouted for Derby County and the Scottish FA.
18. Terry Lees: Managed Hanley and Kidsgrove as well as running a burger van. Later became a leisure centre manager in his native Potteries.
19. Steve Lynex: Ran the Red Lion in West Bromwich and then became a security guard.
20. Norman Bodell: Managed Barrow, coached at Wolves, Preston and Blackburn. Was chief scout at St Andrew’s and then WBA. Retired to Oldham.
Colin Todd: Managed Bolton, Middlesbrough, Swindon, Derby, Bradford, Darlington and Randers in Denmark.
Frank Worthington: Managed Tranmere and now lives near Halifax. An after dinner speaker.
Willie Johnston: Lives in Kirkcaldy, Scotland where he spent 15 years running the Port Brae pub. A matchday host at Glasgow Rangers.