11-11-11: from Kings Heath to Cotteridge

1.25pm: Kick off.

1.26pm: Boost bars are unwrapped.

We make our way down Vicarage Road onto Fordhouse Lane – from Kings Heath to Stirchley – as Clare writes: “I don’t like Stirchley, or the innermost layer of a Boost.”

By contrast, I’m inordinately fond of Stirchley. Having lived there during the mid-90s, I’ve always loved the fact that the nearest train station from my old stomping ground was Bournville. When you left the station you would look out upon this idyllic, picturesque vision of England. You’d see nice, polite chaps playing cricket while shoots of ivy climbed up the sides of their ornate red brick houses. It always seemed like a cross between The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society album and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Once you walked under the railway bridge, however, you were confronted with Stirchley, and the contrast couldn’t be greater. You’d see disused factories, discarded pizza boxes and cars mounted on bricks. Compared to Bournville, this was urban and butal. It’s hard to believe that two such different areas could be divided by a single railway line. I imagine an aerial photograph of the area would look a bit like like the face of Harvey Dent from Batman.

Whoever coined the phrase “The other side of the tracks” probably lived there, too.