Andy Betts, on the news that Birch is being put out to pasture…
Not much has been sadder in the corporate hijacking of our club than the news broken on August 4th that the ‘Birch’ has been forced to retire from our club because he is 65.
Lee ‘Hatchet’ Hoos has proffered a, “No Comment” on the decision but you cannot help thinking that it wouldn’t be too far from the truth to surmise that Alan just doesn’t fit the corporate vacuum that the shell of our club is falling into piece by piece.
Alan Birchenhall has been one of the best things in my time watching City (1969 onwards) a very underrated player who puts his own ability down, he was a star in the Jimmy Bloomfield era when, for me, City played the best football in my time watching.
He had been signed from Crystal Palace when they were a top flight club and previous to that had been a star in a very glamorous Chelsea side.
A real entertainer the, ‘Pie Seller’ incident when during a break in play at Filbo Birch borrowed a tray of pies from a pitch side vendor and proceeded to distribute them to the pop side will live forever in the memory of those who saw it… these days he would probably cop a suspension and hefty fine for that.
During the Martin O’Neill era he hosted a question and answer evening with Martin at Jongleurs and he was simply priceless, a natural comedian who made for a great night.
But behind the joker was a man with a heart of gold, the end of season runs, the visits to sick and dying kids, the fantastic fund raising for LOROS, the little touches like coming into the Kop pre-match to wish me a happy fiftieth birthday and present me with a signed pennant.
This charitable man was good enough to be recognised by our Queen for his efforts and was proud but self effacing even in the face of such an honour.
His autobiography, ‘Bring Back The Birch’ should be read by any City fan who longs for the days when the game still had a soul and a sense of humour, traits that the decision to dismiss him show quite graphically mean nowt to the money men.