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Championship Travel Guide: Birmingham

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Aston Villa and Birmingham City meet on Sunday; here’s the need to know on England’s Second City.

Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Ah.

Birmingham. The Brummies. Brummagem. Bromwicham. Beormingaham

Synecdoche suggests we’re a bunch of gravel-eating earthy-voiced metalheads encased in grey brick and encircled by a concrete ring road.

I mean that isn’t wrong, but there’s so much more to the second city than our dulcet tones and that bastard ring road.

Birmingham began life as a market town and slowly grew until the Industrial Revolution kickstarted its growth. Birmingham became known as the ‘World’s Workshop’ and profited off of the back of increasing globalisation, exports and of course, the many wars which required the city to produce machines and means of warfare. That tradition of manufacturing still bleeds through thanks to the city’s remaining car plants as well as the two districts of the city centre that pay homage to that history.

The metropolitan area of Birmingham has nearly 4 million souls living within its boundaries, with some of those 4 million people having backgrounds as far-afield as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ireland, New Zealand and China. Birmingham is nothing if not diverse.

That diversity bleeds through in our music. Heavy metal wasn’t just forged here, we used it to inspired Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, with Sabbath’s roots stemming from B6 like our beloved Villa. UB40 and Steel Pulse call our city home too, with emerging bands and artists bursting forth from urban scenes.

Aston Villa will visit Birmingham City today, which marks the return of the Second City Derby to English league football. The derby isn’t publicised greatly anymore, but rest assured, it can be as ferocious as River Plate and Boca. We saw that in 2010. Saint Andrews is an easy stadium to get to - just get yourself to Birmingham’s Grand Central Station and follow the crowds (who will usually walk through Digbeth to Small Heath).

Of course, it’s up to you if your colours are on show.

Whilst we can feign hatred and anger towards each other, underneath all of that, buried below your stomach is a sense of bubbling respect. Both these teams represent an oft overlooked city and it’s a damn shame that neither will perform this derby at the highest level of English football.

We’re proud to be second, though.