Beers, flags and three points - Birmingham City's 'special' alliance with Aston Villa's rivals

Birmingham City earned three crucial points in their bid to remain in the Championship on Saturday as they rose to the challenge and emphatically overcame play-off hopefuls Coventry City in front of a packed out St Andrew's crowd. Blues needed a big backing and atmosphere behind them for what could prove to be a significant afternoon in the battle to survive - and almost 27,000 turned up to fill B9 out.

(At least!) Six of those supporters were visiting St Andrew's for the very first time and, amid the waves of otherwise completely royal blue, they made up a half-dozen strong drop of red. These were six Lille fans who, having seen their side suffer a narrow defeat in the first leg of their Europa Conference League quarter final tie at nearby Aston Villa on Thursday, decided to remain in Birmingham for a little while longer and get a taste of football on the other side of the city.

Clearly, Auguste, Louis, Alexandre, Robin, Charles and Baptiste's attendance brought Blues a little good luck, just at a time when they needed it. For those lads, who paid a visit to the Jude Bellingham mural in between sinking pints with the locals, 'the enemy of our enemy is our friend'.

"We've just returned to Lille after a few amazing days in Birmingham," Louis reflected. "We never thought we'd become the lucky charm of Birmingham City, playing one of the most important matches of their season this Saturday. We were originally here to support our beloved club Lille, on the field against Aston Villa in the Conference League on Thursday.

READ: Dion Dublin makes Knighthead request after exciting Birmingham City update

READ: Alex Pritchard exchange and what Birmingham City should do if Ivan Sunjic agrees pay-cut

"And we capped off this trip with a fabulous victory at St. Andrew's, where Birmingham City secured a crucial win for the club's survival. After LOSC's 2-1 defeat - despite dominating Villa throughout the match - we wanted to continue exploring English football, and what better than a match at Birmingham City?"

Blues themselves had a heads up from their special guests of their intentions to be in attendance and duly looked after them - as did the Digbeth watering holes, which were frequented on the way back into the city centre, with the atmosphere naturally a jubilant one.

"We contacted the club, who kindly provided us with six tickets in the active stand [Tilton] to support Birmingham all together," Louis continued. "We were clearly shocked by the kindness of the club's supporters, very warm and very welcoming. I think we talked to about a hundred people, took 200-300 photos, and drank a lot of beer as well - special shout out to the DJ at the Big Bulls Head for the post-match!

"In short, all the values that our club, LOSC, shares and yet, before the start of the match, many people thought we were crazy to come here, but we were convinced that we could bring luck and convey a positive image of our club in such an important match for Birmingham City."

Attentions for everyone associated with Lille - and Villa - are now firmly on this Thursday evening's second leg in the north of France. The tie is in the balance. While Villa have a lead to hold onto, Lille possess a fearsome record on home soil and have lost a single match in all competitions in front of their fans this term - and only twice at all last season.

Whatever happens on Thursday, Blues are expected to be represented in the form of a flag purchased by their visitors this past weekend - and the offer to visit Lille in the future has been extended to the Blues fanbase. They themselves intend to return to St Andrew's again in the future.

"Something special was born this week in Birmingham," Louis adds. "Between the chants, the moments of sharing, the fervor of the stadium, and especially the friendship we created with all the Birmingham supporters. You can be sure that the Birmingham City flag will be present in the stands on Thursday night in our stadium.

"Thank you to all the Birmingham City supporters for this completely crazy welcome. We will gladly come back, especially to such a legendary stadium, if we have the opportunity to bring you luck once again, to ensure your survival in Championship!

"You are also welcome to visit us, we still have plenty of beers to drink together, not at the Big Bulls Head but at the Temple, our favorite bar on match days. That's also football - encounters, joy, goals, and above all, lots of beer!"

Please drink responsibly. You can follow the six Lille fans on X at the handle @LilleFansBCFC.

How many points do Blues need in their final three games? Tell us here