Often Partisan

Blues Ladies in the Champions League – Tim Andrews Interview

Birmingham City Ladies take on Arsenal Ladies tomorrow in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter Final first leg at St Andrew’s. The game is also effectively a curtain-raiser for the new season and will be a good yardstick for seeing how the Ladies will fare in the newly revamped WSL which has a relegation to the newly formed WSL 2.

With this in mind I spoke to Tim Andrews of Hollywood Monster this week. Hollywood Monster are once again the principal sponsor of Blues Ladies and Tim has been very much one of the people pushing the Ladies team forwards in recent years.

The Champions League game is tomorrow, are you looking forwards to it?

I’m looking forward to it a lot.

There’s a few faces to have left us – such as Laura Bassett, Izzy Christiansen, Rachel Williams – does it worry you that it’s hard to hold on to players this year?

I’m told the mood in the dressing room is upbeat – there are lots of kids coming through that relish the opportunity. I think in some respects, it’s not a bad thing and I think this year they’ll be fine. In the first year when the WSL was created nobody knew who was who, who did what, what players did in each team, and it took a while for teams to suss each other out and Blues took the season by storm, they were the surprise package. If they start on a high, that will carry them through. If they get a 7-0 drubbing or something like that, it will be hard to lift the young team and their spirits. They are lacking and experience, for example Karen Carney, who is 26 is one of the most experienced and she’s captain this year so it is a young squad.

Is there a parallel there between the Ladies and the Men’s teams then?

100% – it’s not a lack of investment because there is more money been put into the ladies team than ever before, but in comparison with other teams in the league it’s nowhere near as much. You can’t compete without money. This year Blues have the opportunity to get bums on seats, build interest – get a strong following and go from there.

The ladies season ticket (£30) is less than a ticket for the recent QPR game (£32)

It does speak volumes. The Ladies are playing at the home of the Moors [Damson Parkway, Solihull] rather than Stratford this year so it should attract more fans – we need the fans there. If they get a good following, the team can build on that in the budget for next year.

There’s a lot of negativity around because we’re not holding onto the star players – Rachel Williams didn’t really start as many games for England as she should have, and Bassett who is the England captain have gone – and we might lack a leader on the pitch because while Carney has the respect of the girls, she’s not a shouter – she’s more a leader by example. She’s a lovely girl, I love her to bits but she’s untested, we don’t know how she will get on as Captain.

We need BCFC fans to come out in the droves to support them. We might have lost some players but there are still four or five England players in the squad, who are good players.

What do you make of the new signings?

From talking to the management, they’re really pleased with the squad they’re optimistic. Tomorrow will be a great gauge. Arsenal aren’t as strong as they were, but they’ll be a good yardstick. The Blues girls will be up for it but I do wonder if they will freeze – due to a lack of experience. There were a few players last year who froze on the big occasion, who lost their nerve. It’ll be a great gauge to see if they can perform under pressure. The new signing from Lincoln [Meoghan Sargeant] looks really good, really tough. You look at the midfield, we’ve probably got the best midfield in the league – but what we haven’t got is an out and out goalscorer. We have potential in Linnett and Lawley – they were coming together as a partnership. If they can get off on the right foot, they’ll be great.

How do you think the kit launch went?

It went well. Midlands Today were there [although they hadn’t used the footage yet]. It was quite good, I didn’t know many people there, so I can’t tell you who was there – I knew Ian Winter from Radio WM. I wish Tom Ross and Colin Tattum would show more interest in them – it would be really nice if they got involved and showed a bit of interest. Of course, there is selfish reasons, because I want the Hollywood Monster name emblazoned everywhere but I want it for the girls too, they deserve it. They’re carrying the Blues badge.

The feedback from the last Champions League game was incredible – do you think it will be similar this time?

The club is expecting 3,000 there – there is a lot riding on it because a successful game could make for a succesful season. It would be great if we got through to the semis – another European awayday would be great – but it’s about getting the support.

Blues play Aston Villa in the Continental Cup who are a WSL2 team away this season

It’s interesting cos both teams were at a similar level a while back – it’s only cos Blues’ Chinese owners put money in that Blues have got to where they are now, we’d be in the same place if it wasn’t for the Chinese.

To be scrupulously fair – we finished ninth in the Premier League, won the Carling Cup and we were going to buy Wast Hills under their stewardship. One of the reasons we can keep going is because they’ve put money into the infrastructure.

What’s happening on the Charity front?

I resigned from Help Harry Help Others in October – straight after the ball, for various reasons. We had raised a lot of money for HHHO via the 7in7 Charity. This year, 7in7 are undertaking seven coasts in seven days. Money raised will be for Teenage Cancer Trust and it will take place at the end of June.

I’m launching a charity called “Lovebrum” – which is designed to advance Birmingham economically and socially. Birmingham is a city which to outsiders seems to punch below it’s weight. Brummies love the city but don’t stand up and shout about it, so we always lose out to the likes of Manchester and Leeds. You think of the heritage of the city, we have so much history – we shouldn’t be just country leading, we should be world leading. First motor car was designed here in Birmingham, the first plastics; the industrial revolution was here and whilst most of that has gone we should be proud. More canals than venice, more green space than any other city in europe, youngest city in Europe – we should be marketing and promoting that

Lovebrum isn’t about promoting the city – that’s the council’s job.  There is lots of good going for the city but there is a lot hurting – homelessness, teenage pregnancy, children overweight, children going to school without breakfasts – social and economic issues. They exist everywhere, but charity starts at home and we should look after ourselves before we look after others. We want to raise money for people in the city and keep it here, and make the city a better place to live and work. Not just social stuff, but all sorts of issues, like breast/prostate cancer. It’ll mainly be corporate. Every penny raised will go to the charity. The people who will pay into it – the corporate subscribers, will pay to run it and they will have a say in where the money goes – but the money raised will all go to charity. It should launch around June time.


Blues Ladies - sponsored by Hollywood Monster

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