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Growlithe introduces us to a strange cult that has grown amongst the fans who aren't content with suffering by watching City play week in and out, they need the extra masochism of travelling by train too...
Tigers by Train are a fluid collection of City fans who make every effort to travel to away matches by that great institution, the railway. As you can imagine, the journeys are often fraught with incident and even some humour.
Having moved to Birmingham in 1991 I attended a few away games at my local ground at Moor Green to see City play the hosts and ground sharers Solihull Borough. At a loose end one weekend I decided to venture to Hednesford to see City take on the unbeaten league leaders and caught the local train service from Birmingham New Street. the Tigers won a famous victory 3-1 and I enjoyed the Hednesford hospitality so much I decided to plan other trips that were accessible by train. Previously I had gone to Cardiff for the FA Cup game by train but had spent most of the day dodging the attentions of the 'friendly' home fans.
I managed to get to some of the most exotic corners of the country: bishop Auckland (hand to leave before the end to catch a connection), Dagenham & Redbridge, Yeading, Baldock and Chertsey, as well as some of the more mundane like Stafford, Rugby, Tamworth and Stourbridge. The majority of these trips I travelled on my own but sometimes bumped into Richard 'Don Caster' Holmes on his way to games from South Yorkshire.
However on the way to the FA Trophy tie at Stevenage Borough I encountered some City fans madder than myself who hardly missed a game travelling by train. These esteemed supporters are well known to loyal City fans as Taff, Dave A, Young Taff and his friend James. We discovered a mutual love of City, beer, gambling and trains. The younger ones shared an affinity of kicking a football around pub gardens, car parks and away grounds. My son Sean joined this illustrious band after his fifth birthday allowed the purchase of a family rail ticket.
The fixture list is always eagerly awaited each season, particularly the prospect of new grounds and places to visit; for instance Taunton, Minehead, Stourport and Banbury this season. Sound advice is always available at Gloucester station from Paul Webb on the best routes and the cheapest tickets.
The best away trips over the years have been
to Rocester (where my scarf was blessed by the Vicar of Uttoxeter), Chippenham,
Rugby (friendly pubs), Odd Down, Taunton, Port Talbot (excellent hospitality)
and the Trophy games at Stevenage and Dagenham.
You are all very welcome to be eligible for a much sought after 'Tigers by Train' badge by joining us for any away trip in 2003/4. A trip to Ilkeston or Team Bath anyone, keep an eye out for those fixtures...