As a new English Premier League season has started all eyes are on the big boys of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea etc. but spare a thought for the little guys who are starting their European adventures this week.

Of course I am talking about my Birmingham City or should I say “Carling Cup Winners Birmingham City” because it is for that chilly day last February when David defeated Goliath as the mighty Blues put the Arsenal to the sword.

Of course it wouldn’t be the Blues if we hadn’t then gone on a run of only one win for the rest of the season and were eventually relegated on the last day.

Add in the fact that the chairman was arrested in Hong Kong for tax evasion and money laundering leading to all our assets being frozen. This, as we all know means the good players have to be sold and a make-shift team has to be built on Bosmans, or Freeman’s as we used to call them after a cheesy catalog that my mom used to order clothes from in the late 70’s.

St Andrew's is known as the ‘Chinese takeaway’ now because managers phone up and go, ‘I’ll have a 29, an 18 and throw in a No.3!

We do have a couple of players left from last season {as the transfer window is still open} and we will be relying on Dubliners Captain Stephen Carr and this weeks winning goal scorer Keith Fahey to do the business.

As the Blues were seeded in the Europa League competition they only have to play in one play off qualifier to reach the group stages but the draw was a little unkind as they are up against CD Nacional who are a Portuguese top flight club hailing from the remote island of Madeira, some 323 miles off the coast of Morocco. They finished a respectable 6th last season and beat teams such as Benfica so they are the obvious favorites.

It’s quite a trek from Birmingham to Madeira and even further from Miami and with only 1000 tickets allocated to the away fans, I like so many Blue Noses will have to rely on the internet to see how we progress. I would love to see us get a draw there then as St. Andrews anything is possible. No one gave us a chance against Arsenal so you never know.

As one famous pundit once said “football, it’s a funny old game”.

A more famous quote that comes to mind is from a French woman who once said “let them eat cake”


Madeira cake is a sponge cake in traditional English cookery. The Madeira cake has a firm yet light texture, eaten with tea or rarely for breakfast and is traditionally flavored with lemon. It is not unlike a simple pound cake or yellow cake. The Madeira cake is sometimes mistakenly thought to originate from the Madeira Islands; however, that is not the case as it was instead named after the wine, which was popular in England at the time.

The history of Madeira cake dates back to an original recipe in the 18th century or 19th century. The Madeira cake was named after the wine, which accompanied the dish. The cake was often served traditionally with Madeira wine during the 19th century, but can now be served with tea or liquors.
It is not to be confused with the traditional cake of Madeira island called Bolo de Mel, a cake made from sugarcane honey (molasses).


6oz butter, at room temperature
6oz caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
9oz self-raising flour
2-3 tbsp milk
1 lemon, zest only
1-2 thin pieces of candied citron or lemon peel, to decorate


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
Grease an 18cm/7in round cake tin, line the base with greaseproof paper and grease the paper. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well between each one and adding a tablespoon of the flour with the last egg to prevent the mixture curdling.
Sift the flour and gently fold in, with enough milk to give a mixture that falls slowly from the spoon.
Fold in the lemon zest.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and lightly level the top.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, and then turn it out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

To serve, decorate the cake with the candied peel.


A man goes into a cake shop and says to the baker "how much are your cakes?”
The baker replies "any cake for a quid mate",
So the man says "aye alright then I’ll have two of those ones at the back",
Baker says "That'll be a fiver ".
Surprised the man replies “how come it’s a fiver I thought you said any cake for a quid"
The baker replies "that's Madeira cake


Madeira CakeGoogle Images