Often Partisan

Ridgewell Retrospective

After months of speculation as to where he would go, Liam Ridgewell has finally departed St Andrews for pastures new just up the Soho Road. I thought I’d take a look back at the player who was until his departure the team’s current top appearance maker and the last player in the squad signed by Steve Bruce.

I remember Liam quite well from his days across the expressway; he had that unerring knack of getting a couple of own goals a season that has been so perfected by Richard Dunne and I wasn’t that surprised that he was bombed out of Four Sheds by Martin O’Neill. He hadn’t been getting first team football in the 06/07 season and Bruce (who tried to sign him in January 07) finally got his man at the start of August that year.

At the time it was quite a contentious move; he was the first player to cross the divide from the dark side to Blues for 23 years and I think some fans took a long time to accept him – despite Liam being made captain on his full debut for the club. The problem with Ridgewell is that he is prone to making a serious error or two in a game, and it was typified in his first second city derby game since his move when he opened the scoring for the Villa with a horrific own goal. I remember it well; I was stood (no one sat for that game) in Block 19 of the Kop/Tilton Corner and when Petrov crossed the ball it was like time slowed down, and you knew the only person it was going to hit was Ridge and the only place it was going to was the back of the Blues net. I swear, all the Blues players knew it as well because everyone seemed frozen – although that could just be my hazy memory.

Ridgewell picked up this “Agent” tag; someone sent from the wrong side of the expressway to screw up our season and get us relegated. Of course, we did get relegated that season but I don’t think it was particularly Ridgewell’s fault; yes there were some pitiful displays from him (the 5-1 away derby defeat being a standout one) but there were so many games where many of the team didn’t turn up. That being said, it didn’t stop the boo boys getting at him and assistant manager Roy Aitken (who also had massive connections to the pink and baby blue mob) – and it can’t have been easy for him.

Another burning memory of Ridgewell occurred at St Andrews (but I can’t remember who against, I think it was a Championship game) when in the middle of a game he apropos of nothing caught a downfield clearance – cleanly, with two hands in the middle of the pitch. As the ref blew the whistle for a free kick you could see everyone looking at Liam wondering what on Earth had gone through his mind. Maybe he’d heard some sort of ghost whistle – we’ll never know.

The 09/10 season saw the re-invention and re-birth of Liam Ridgewell as a full back. Returning from injury, and with his path to the centre of defence blocked by the Johnson/Dann partnership Ridgewell rocked up at left-back – and amazingly, did fairly well. Now let’s not kid ourselves; he’s not Roberto Carlos but I think it did suit him as it allowed him to get forward (and make mistakes higher up the pitch), but also to get into the penalty box and start sticking the ball in the right net. Another abiding memory of Ridgewell was him scoring against Liverpool at home with to be delicate, his “groin”. He became part of the “unbeatables” side that went fifteen matches without defeat, holding down the let back slot and as fans were cheered by Blues good record, the “Agent” tag started to be dropped.

Last season wasn’t quite as good for Liam; but he still managed to equal Cameron Jerome’s tally of five goals which isn’t too shabby for a full-back. Whilst he still had some very good games in the aftermath of the Carling Cup win I think he, like a few other members of the squad started to believe their own hype a little and he took his foot off the gas – and Blues suffered. He wasn’t helped by the disruption of the defensive partnership next to him either – but his sending off against Newcastle United hardly helped us.

Like many others in the cup-winning side, Ridgewell didn’t want to play for us in the Championship. Unfortunately for Liam, Hughton had obviously made it plain he wanted to hold on to the want-away defender and Ridgewell went nowhere. There were press reports that his personal life was a bit of a mess and rumours from fans that Ridgewell had actively been saying in bars and suchlike that he wanted out.

His form dipped as a result; at times he looked disinterested and the return and subsequent rise of David Murphy’s stock condemned Ridgewell to a place on the bench at best when he wasn’t “injured”. The only outcome that was ever going to be suitable was for Ridgewell to leave in the window; I’m disappointed it took until the final day but I’m also pleased with the fee that has been bandied about – about £1.7million.

I’m a little disappointed it had to end this way, but I’m also relieved that the speculation that went on and on about him will now come to an end. Hopefully Blues can now bring in a loan player to cover for Murphy and the centre back slot in the loan window, and we can move on without a wantaway Blues player dominating the gossip stories.


13 Responses to “Ridgewell Retrospective”

  • chris says:

    I remember the handball as well, it was against Newcastle in 07-08 season. Ridgewell was a massive part in our unbeaten run, he scored some important goals for us Tottenham, Liverpool and Derby. Sad to see him go, but in my opinion, Murphy is a better left back and has been superb this season. Good luck Ridgewell

  • Denis Thwaites says:

    I think Ridgwell was at best an average premiership centre half and a poor left back. I accept that he was part of a Blues defensive line up that excelled durng 2009/10 but he was very much the lesser of the 5 parts (Hart/Carr/Johnson and Dann) being the other 4. I hope he does as well as Johnson and Dann have done since they left Blues!

    His comments about Blues when interviewed from his car by SKY yesterday were disrespectful about Blues. It was clear he was glad to get away and so as far as I am concerned I say good riddens. He was a bit part player at the Vile and he got his career on path at Blues and he should have at least recognised that.

    The stick out memory I have of Ridge was against Wigan when he tried to slide tackle someone by the corner flag and succeeded not only in taking ball and man out but at the same time took the corner flag and the the linesman out too. That was certainly entertaining

  • Alboy says:

    I wish him well, he put in a shift for us only tarnished by his public request to leave following relegation, Ridgewell is a good utility player and,OK, has made a few gaffs but so have many others. One memory I have is at the Reading game away when we got promoted a few years ago, while he was on crutches at the end of the game clapping along with the SOTV song waving his crutches in the air, fair play. KRO

  • noobloo says:

    CH is a Master at keeping things under wraps but I think even he found it hard to disguise the fact that Rdgewell wasnt pulling his weight latterly in training and on the pitch but realised he was one of the better players left at the club so played him knowing that keeping him in the team was the best way to get rid of a disruptive influence to team moral. You cant fault Chris H for anything he has done during his time at b/ham because with all the limitations he has had, he had a decent run in europe, we are in the play off places and with everyone around us faultering, Birmingham will win the league

  • DoctorD says:

    It all went downhill once he started getting tatts all over himself.

  • John King says:

    If someone took the time to look at the goals conceded against Blues in the last 3 or 4 years Ridgewell would feature very highly as a weak link at the back. He had a tendency to keep backing off and backing off until it was too late or made mistake after mistake. \his interview on SKY says it all nmot a thank you or I wish the club / fans well……Nothing……WBA atre welcomr to him.

  • leigh says:

    Couldn’t agree more , in the early days you just could not wait for the disastrous mistake, per game, in front of our goal. Of late however in the left back role I actualy began to see him often as ( admitedly in t.v. highlights) our man of the match. Let us not forget that other great goal scoring full back we had from Villa Park….Stan Lynn….although his were from the penalty spot.
    It,s sometimes however we remember the disasters of our past heros, and for me it was Stan in a cup tie ( if I remember correctly ) at Upton Park where we had the lead through an Alex Jackson wind assisted corner, only for an aged Stan to be ‘run ragged’ by young John Sissons in the second half resulting in defeat ( 3-1 I think). The other memory of that match was Dave and I not shouting too much, as we were convinced the chap a few yards away was Joe Bugner ( no segregation in those days) !

  • biggun_BCFC says:

    I calculated approx 24 points lost that first season were his fault, however the following season he more that made up for it… I am a Liam fan , he is a hard worker and after making such a big move I can’t imagine the pressure he felt that season, however after the 1st season I did think he was a good solid player for us… maybe not a consistent premiership player, but as solid as anyone at this level , very simalr to davis…. to good for this league not good enough for permier….

    I know for a fact the only reason why Laim want to leave was the constant abuse he got from fans, so you should be ashamed of ourselves for that… we should never get on the case of players it does them no good…. no matter how bad they are , the manager should make the decissions on how poor players are.. not us….

    I also still remember when Jasper G come on as a SUB and he got booed…. yes worse player to ever wear a blues shirt, but hardly gonna help the man as he come on

    Good Look Ridgers –

    • Denis Thwaites says:

      I think the booing started when LR handed a transfer request at the start of the season just after the xfer window was about to close and thereafer put in half hearted performances. I have never booed him but I can see why with that attitude he was.

  • Pete says:

    Under rated, over criticised, shocking tatts.
    Tarnished by the Villa connection as theire fans did not like him. His attitude was spot on for most of his time, and only dipped this season.

    I prefer to remember the positives, his overlapping runs to try and drive our lacklustre midfield forward last season, a goal in the semi at Upton Park, and his two balls to oba in the last minutes at Wembley.
    The memory of the lino was forgotten until I read this, lmao.

    I wish him well and hope he does better with the baggies than Johnson and Dann have in their careers.

  • jazzzy786 says:

    Ridge has been a decent player for us overall. As a CB he is good in the air but slow and clumsy. As a left back he lacks pace but scored quite a few goals in a defensive minded team. In a more attack minded team he’d leave a big space for the other team to exploit. His crossing ability is not as good as David Murphys. His biggest asset is his versatility in being able to play CB and LB. We will miss him as a covering squad player.

    However having said this he is an average defender at best. While we appreciate his efforts for us when his head was okay his attitude towards the end stank as he threw his toys out if the pram in an effort to seal a move away. I bet the injury heals up very quickly now he has sealed the move to the Prem. I won’t be surprised if he is looking for another move if WBA go down. Quite simply Liam we only want players who are committed to our cause so good luck at your new club but don’t be surprised when u get booed on ur return to St Andrews.

  • Dirty Bertie says:

    The silence is deafening, so let me help.
    Zigic out
    Zigic out
    Zigic out
    Zigic out

    That’s FOUR, want some more?

  • Wingman Blue says:

    Ridgewell-who? We’ve moved on. We’re moving up. Look forward, not behind. We can’t change the past, only the future.

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