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A-Z of West Midlands Football

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: June 15, 2014

  • Artim Sakiri

  • Bakary Sako

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ST ANDREW'S has been the home of Birmingham City football club since 1906.

The first game there took place on Boxing Day of that year when a crowd of 32,000 saw Blues held to a goalless draw by Middlesbrough.

Over the years, the ground itself has been changed and added to considerably, especially after it was hammered by German war planes during World War Two.

A record crowd of 66,844 packed into the stadium to see a 5th round FA Cup tie between Blues and Everton in February 1939.

Today St Andrew's can house 29,409 spectators, all seated, while the playing area measures 115 yards x 75 yards (105m x 68m).

The Arsenal v Sheffield Wednesday encounter of March 1907 was the first Cup tie staged at St Andrew's; two FA Amateur Cup semi-finals have been played there plus no less than nine FA Cup semi-finals including the Aston Villa v. WBA clash in 1957 when Villa won 1-0.

The last semi-final saw Leicester City beat Sheffield United 2-0 in 1961.

England have played two internationals on Blues' ground – drawing 1-1 with Scotland in 1922 and beating Wales 2-1 in 1941.

St Andrew's stands 123m above sea level – the sixth highest football ground in England. HRH the Prince of Wales paid a visit there in the summer of 1980, followed by Mohammed Ali 1984.

BAKARY SAKO was born in Ivry Sur Seine, Paris in April 1988 and played for two major clubs in France – Chateauroux and St Etienne – scoring 26 goals in 192 appearances in the French League and Cup competitions before joining Wolves in 2012.

Over the last two seasons the midfielder has played in 93 games for the Wanderers, helping them win the League One Championship last term when he netted some important goals in a total of nine.

He has represented Mali at Under 17 and senior levels and collected ten Under 21 caps for France (2009-10).

MAT SADLER played in 35 competitive games as a defender (mainly left-back) for Birmingham City in three seasons with the club: 2001-04.

Born in the city in February 1985, he was capped by England at youth team level during his time at St Andrew's and following a loan spell with Northampton Town, he went on to play, in turn, for Watford, Stockport County, Shrewsbury Town, Walsall and Crawley Town.

Mat scored one goal in 52 outings for the Saddlers in season 2011-12.

ARTIM SAKIRI was the first Macedonian footballer to play for West Bromwich Albion, signed by manager Gary Megson in July 2003 for £70,000 from CSKA Sofia.

Born in September 1973, Artim, a hard-working midfielder, played for FK Vardar and Halmstad BK (Sweden), Tennis Borussia Berlin (Germany), HIT Gorica (Slovenia), NK Korotan, FC Inter Turku and FC Vadaz (both in Finland) and Melatyaspor (Turkey) before spending four years in Bulgaria with CSKA.

He scored once (a stunner versus Burnley) in 33 appearances for the Baggies before having a loan spell with the Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua (on loan) prior to a brief encounter with Burnley in July 2005 (released after two days because of an expired work permit).

He went on to play for FK Shkendija (Macedonia), Besa Kavage (Albania) and FC Qarabag (Azerbaijan) and was capped 72 times by Macedonia. He retired in 2011 with 245 club appearances to his name (42 goals scored), and in season 2012-13 Sakiri moved into football management with FK Skendija.

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