On This Day: Paul Caddis Keeps Birmingham City In The Championship In 2014

Caddis' significant equaliser came in the third of six added minutes of stoppage time
17:00, 03 May 2022

It was 3rd May 2014. The Reebok Stadium in Bolton was the setting. Birmingham City travelled to face Bolton Wanderers on the final day of the 2013-14 Championship season hoping to avoid relegation to League One. They started the day in the bottom three, needing a positive result while also relying on Doncaster Rovers losing to Leicester City.

It was a game that had the Blues fans inside the stadium and back home go through a rollercoaster of emotions, knowing that the likely financial consequences of relegation could be devastating. It was hard to process a club which had proudly lifted the Carling Cup at Wembley Stadium after beating Arsenal three years prior, were in this torrid situation. 

Everyone associated with the club were nervous wrecks in the week leading up to the game, plus the 90 minutes that everyone would say felt the longest in a football match that they had ever experienced. It was the last roll of the dice to remain in the second tier and after their last match against Wigan Athletic at St Andrew’s ended in a 1-0 defeat, the supporters were fearing the worst.

Of course when the club had next to no budget because of the chaos going on behind the scenes, the Blues fans expected a tough season but not one as bad as this. Lee Clark, the manager at the time, knew just how much was at stake and that he needed his side to deliver in Lancashire to ensure this historic club could retain its Championship status and spare it from the uncertainty that dropping into League One would bring.

To help fire the players up for the battle ahead, the away dressing room was filled with notes and messages from the supporters of how much the club means to the community and general uplifting comments to give them a boost, which they desperately needed. The away end was ferociously loud as the Blues’ anthem ‘Keep Right On’ was belted several times throughout the game to spur the players on. You would have believed that they were the home crowd with the noise they were generating.

Of course when the club had next to no budget because of the chaos going on behind the scenes, the Blues fans expected a tough season but not one as bad as this. Lee Clark, the manager at the time, knew just how much was at stake and that he needed his side to deliver in Lancashire to ensure this historic club could retain its Championship status and spare it from the uncertainty that dropping into League One would bring.

To help fire the players up for the battle ahead, the away dressing room was filled with notes and messages from the supporters of how much the club means to the community and general uplifting comments to give them a boost, which they desperately needed. The away end was ferociously loud as the Blues’ anthem ‘Keep Right On’ was belted several times throughout the game to spur the players on. You would have believed that they were the home crowd with the noise they were generating.

After a rather quiet first-half, the Blues were able to take head into the break at 0-0. But as is tradition with Birmingham City, it’s never that simple. Just before the hour-mark, a regular haunt in the form of Lee Chung-yong, drilled in the opener following a set-piece having been the player that ended the Blues’ dreams of reaching the FA Cup semi-finals in the same year they won the League Cup.

The away fans were silenced. They were stunned. They were thinking that was that. They were a goal down and Doncaster were drawing 0-0 at the King Power Stadium. It was going to take a miracle for the match to finish and the Blues to be a Championship club the following season. Things then went from bad to worse with less than a quarter of an hour left to play when current Birmingham striker Lukas Jutkiewicz doubled the hosts’ lead. He peeled off on the left side of the box and unleashed a first-time effort which squirmed its way in under a shell-shocked Darren Randolph.

In the eyes of everyone, that was it, the survival mission had failed miserably. The only glimmer of hope that the Blues faithful could cling on to was the fact that David Nugent had put Leicester ahead against Doncaster, but it would still take two goals for the Great Escape to happen.

The second goal going in was soul-crushing, but out of nowhere the players were able to pick themselves up and continue to give their all - as if they were living up to the words of the club’s famous anthem.

Within moments the deficit was halved, unbelievably. Left-back Mitch Hancox drove down the left flank before looking up to spot the towering Serbian striker Nikola Zigic entering the box. He floated an inch-perfect ball into the path of Zigic who powered the ball home to give his side a lifeline, while raising the crowd. For that goal, it kind of made the forward’s staggering £65,000 a week wage worth it. The final stages of the game were then frantic. The fans were alive and full of noise, desperate to see the equaliser that would be worth millions hit the back of the net right in front of them.

As the game reached stoppage time, it was all or nothing for Clark’s side and in the third minute of six added, defender Paul Caddis wrote his name into Birmingham legend. Winger Jordon Ibe received the ball on the left side of the Bolton penalty area and he tried to get a shot away but after a scramble it fell to Zigic who came charging in with a header which was cleared off the line by Tim Ream. Then there was Caddis, the Scotsman was perfectly placed to nod home Ream’s clearance from just a few yards, scoring the easiest goal of his career but by far the biggest.

He sent the away end into pandemonium. Birmingham had just achieved the impossible and the Macron Stadium was filled with one of the most passionate renditions of Keep Right On you will ever hear. As the full-time whistle blew, Clark ran straight down the touchline to go and embrace the travelling supporters as the players and fans celebrated their heroics. 

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