David Gold is looking to the future with Birmingham City by remembering the past, reports Rob Tanner.
Birmingham City chairman David Gold is hoping the spirit of 1995 will be resurrected at the Blues next season and inspire the club to an immediate return to the Barclays Premier League.
Gold was left bitterly crushed by the Blues' relegation to the Championship on the final day of the season and even threatened to stand down as chairman after witnessing protests directed at the Board of directors by a small section of the St Andrew's crowd.
However, after receiving hundreds of letters and emails of support, Gold said he has now recovered his enthusiasm and is looking back on the 1994-95 season as inspiration for another successful campaign.
At the end of the 1993-94 season, Blues were relegated to the old Third Division despite a fantastic run of results under enigmatic manager Barry Fry. It was a bitter blow to Gold but the very next day he was on the phone to Fry to urge him to strive for the league title and to win the Auto Windscreens Shield.
"I feel reinvigorated and I am bullish about the future," said Gold. "It is reminiscent of what happened 13 years ago under Barry. We were relegated despite winning on the final day of the season at Tranmere Rovers. West Bromwich Albion also won late on at Portsmouth and that sent us down. On the way home I just couldn't believe we had taken the club into the old Third Division.
"However, at 6am the next day I called Barry and told him to sign Kevin Francis. I told him I wanted to win the league and go to Wembley in the Auto Windscreens Shield. He said: 'But Mr Chairman, its 6am in the morning and I want to go back to sleep.' But he did it and the rest is history.
"From relegation, a few days later you realise you can't wallow, you have to fight back. After a very dark time, we had a wonderful season and went to Wembley, which was fantastic. From adversity came great success and I hope the same can happen now."
Gold is not completely over the abuse he and fellow Blues owner David Sullivan received from some supporters following the 4-1 last-day win over Blackburn Rovers, and he called for unity as the club bids to return to the Premier League under manager Alex McLeish.
"I am not as positive as I was in 1994-95 because there was no dissention in the crowd then," he explained. "Everyone was pulling together then. Great clubs in difficulty, like Birmingham, need a structure where everyone is pulling together. Look at Leeds United, they haven't had that and look where they are. We had that under Barry Fry but it is not the same this time.
"It is very important that we give a good response. A lot of the fans have been fantastic towards me. I am not quite back to the Fry excitement but I am optimistic."
In the wake of relegation and Gold's promise that he would step down if he discovered it was more than a minority that were protesting against the board, the Post surveyed several branches of the Birmingham City Supporters Club and there was unanimous backing for Gold. The chairman said the survey gave him great heart.
"I am delighted to hear that the Post survey has been so positive towards me," he said. "After what happened on the final day of the season I was so down, not just for myself but for every-one associated with the club.
"I felt guilty and questioned how much of what transpired was down to me, how much did I contribute to relegation. Add to that what I saw on the pitch with the protests and the abuse, and the fact some fans wanted to destroy things, and you think how much of this is me?
"I did reflect and think maybe it was time to stand down and let someone else have a chance. I looked at the fans who protested and thought this is a big majority, but I am thrilled to hear it isn't. In that disappointing moment I thought the fans leaving were also voting with their feet. I am thrilled to hear it wasn't."
Blues will undoubtedly be one of the favourites for the Championship title and rather than wilt under the pressure, Gold said he welcomed it. The bookmakers are rarely wrong and Gold said if his side had the favourites tag it would be a clear indication they had a good squad.
"I would be disappointed if we weren't favourites," he said. "We are Birmingham City and if there wasn't expectation then there would be something wrong. It would be time to worry. It is part and parcel of being a big club.
"The board has ambition and people know that, that is why there is expectation but it would be unrealistic to think there are billions of pounds to spend."