Monk: I knew in­stantly Blues was a club that was go­ing to suit me

Birmingham Post - - SPORT - JOSEPH CHAP­MAN Foot­ball Writer

GARRY Monk says he im­me­di­ately knew Birm­ing­ham City was the right club for him – be­cause he ‘gets’ what the club means to Bluenoses on and off the pitch.

From the mo­ment Monk walked through the door in March, with Blues ly­ing in the Cham­pi­onship rel­e­ga­tion zone and a fan­base frag­mented, things have looked up.

Not only have re­sults dra­mat­i­cally im­proved on the field – Blues have swapped that rel­e­ga­tion po­si­tion for a side on the cusp of the play-offs within nine months – but the club has ex­tended their col­lec­tive arm into the com­mu­nity. They are ef­forts that haven’t gone un­no­ticed among the sup­port.

Why is it, then, that Monk has been able to ‘get’ Birm­ing­ham City Foot­ball Club?

“It’s be­cause I’m a nutter,” he smiled. “It’s just a feel­ing you have, you can walk into some clubs and, with it still be­ing a good club, it’s just a dif­fer­ent feel­ing.

“I knew in­stantly when I walked into the club it was a club that was go­ing to suit me. Be­cause of what it’s been through, ev­ery­one is so will­ing to do bet­ter.

“Get­ting that con­nec­tion, I wouldn’t say it was sim­ple but it was much more straight­for­ward. Be­ing able to com­mu­ni­cate that prop­erly and hav­ing those channels open was huge.

“That’s some­thing we’ve re­ally worked hard on. Ev­ery­one de­serves it ; our fans, the play­ers, the staff.

“For­get the foot­ball on the pitch and ev­ery­thing that hap­pens with that, hav­ing that con­nec­tion as a club is huge.

“We can get even bet­ter. From where we were at when we came in, it’s a huge tes­ta­ment and ev­ery­one should be proud.”

In July, Blues an­nounced a part­ner­ship with for­mer striker Ge­off Hors­field’s very own foun­da­tion and Monk, his coach­ing staff and mem­bers of the play­ing squad have joined in ev­ery­thing, from DIY to feed­ing the home­less.

More is planned, too; rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the squad will visit Heart­lands Hospi­tal be­fore Christ­mas and the club con­tin­ues to work closely with Hors­field.

The man­ager was ea­ger to point out that, un­like at other clubs he’s man­aged, these play­ers don’t al­ways wait to be asked be­fore head­ing out into the com­mu­nity. He’s en­joyed it him­self, too.

“Be­ing able to have so­cial me­dia and be­ing able to go out and work with Ge­off into the com­mu­nity is huge. It’s so sat­is­fy­ing, it opens your eyes,” Monk con­tin­ued.

“The play­ers have em­braced it too; they’ve gone out of their way to go and do that. They don’t just wait for the club to ask them, which hap­pens at a lot of other clubs.

“As play­ers they’ve gone out off their own backs at times and ac­tively done stuff as well as the stuff for the club. They’ve been fan­tas­tic and it’s grow­ing all the time. Ev­ery­one is see­ing the ben­e­fit of that. There’s a real strong at­ti­tude to­wards pro­gress­ing.”

Monk also recog­nised the sup­port his side has en­joyed and fed off, both at St An­drew’s – where Blues are un­beaten in 15 – and around the coun­try.

“Teams can’t help where they’re placed or si­t­u­ated, but if you think of Lon­don clubs, you could walk out of a Lon­don sta­dium and bump into six, seven, eight, nine fans of other clubs,” he added.

“Here, it’s pretty much Birm­ing­ham-based. Ev­ery­one I bump into are Birm­ing­ham fans. Maybe other fans aren’t as con­fi­dent to come up to you! The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple I speak to when I’m out and about, and I know the staff are the same, are Birm­ing­ham fans.

“It (the feel­good fac­tor) was there at the end of last sea­son and I think it showed our fans what Birm­ing­ham can be when it’s all to­gether.

“Ev­ery­one has played their part, in­side and out­side the club, and that’s just got stronger and stronger.

“The sup­port we and the play­ers have had has been un­con­di­tional and that’s why the play­ers wanted to show such a strong re­sponse (fol­low­ing the de­feat to Villa).

“That’s the sign of a club mak­ing pro­gres­sion.”

>Blues’ play­ers Maikel Kieftenbeld, left, and Marc Roberts, right, give Ge­off Hors­field a hand

>Garry Monk and Blues’ fans have taken each other to their hearts

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