I never imagined my son’s passion for football would transform my understanding of Birmingham – but that is exactly what has happened.
My boy is part of a football team and plays matches against other teams throughout the south of the city.
That means that each week, I drive through the streets in search of the place where the match is being held and find myself down unknown cul de sacs or on familiar A roads in front of a previously unnoticed gateway. And there I invariably find a big beautiful open space of which I had previously been unaware.
I think of Birmingham in a different way
This has happened so many times that I now think of south Birmingham in a different way. On the surface there are roads, roundabouts, offices, houses and towerblocks. It’s a city of concrete and tarmac and glass facades.
But get out of your car and walk down a tow path or through a narrow gate and you’ll find another layer to Birmingham. There are wide green fields, canals, wildlife, woodlands and rivers. It’s all there, nestling around the ring roads like a majestic, dignified secret.