Birmingham City supporters were given a first glimpse of a sight they’ve longed to see for a decade.
It was also one Troy Deeney insisted would never happen.
But these are very early days of the 2021/2022 season and they are strange ones at St Andrew’s, where the unlikely does sometimes happen.
Blues are stockpiling points at an unusual rate, rocking along at nearly two a game. They are even winning at home, scoring at one end, stopping opponents at the other.
And Deeney, the man who said he’d never play for the club, is doing just that.
The boyhood Blues fan played 22 minutes against Derby – and Blues reporter Brian Dick kept a close eye on him.
Here’s his report.
“Deeney emerged from the tunnel between the Main Stand and the Gil Merrick with the rest of his team-mates for their pre-match warm-up.
“Harlee Dean led the way, Deeney trotted along in the middle of the pack, he’d barely got on to the pitch before the odd ‘Deeney, Deeney’ filtered down from the unpopulated stands.
“The squad fanned out to take part in the various drills, Deeney jogged over to the Kop side for a keep-ball session, patting Tahith Chong on the back as he did.
“Quite often he’d have an extended exchange with assistant manager Mark Kennedy and then he came to the Main Stand for the shooting drill.
“He fizzed a pass into Paul Harsley’s feet only to drag the return wide of the far post. His second attempt nestled in the corner, to more calls of ‘Deeney, Deeney’.
“After 20 minutes the team returned to the changing room, roared in by fans in the Gil Merrick, the topless Deeney no doubt aware all eyes were on him.
“Just before kick-off – and after the Tilton had blared out Keep Right On, Chuks Aneke, closely followed by Deeney and the rest of the subs, made their way down the near the touchline.
“Fans applauded, Deeney kept his head down and took his place in the dugout.
“The applause turned to roars when ‘No. 36 Troy Deeney’ was the final name read out by the announcer.
“The 14,000 fans got their first real sight of him in the 25th minute when he ambled down the sideline for a mid-game warm-up.
“St Andrew’s exploded and fans chorused ‘He’s one of our own, he’s one of our own, Troy Deeney, he’s one of our own’.
“Back to the bench he went, only to emerge at half time when was cheered on his way.
“Ten minutes into the second period he was out for a proper warm-up – once more provoking bellows of ‘Deeney, Deeney, Deeney’ and then, just after the hour, he was called to Lee Bowyer and his debut was imminent.
“With a three and a six on his back and a globe and ball on his blue-shirted he was given a standing ovation on to the pitch.
“His first touch came tight to the touchline, he took a difficult pass with his left foot and with his right rolled the ball down the line releasing Chong.
“The Manchester United loanee squared but just behind Scott Hogan.
“Deeney didn’t have many touches as the game drew to a close – giving Nathan Byrne a ‘not on my patch’ shove was probably as notable as it got.
“And there was no ‘big-un’. He waited behind to applaud the Tilton at the end, removed his shirt and just as he had been clapped on to the pitch, he was clapped off it.
“Not the dream debut – but a debut that ended with many Blues fans dreaming.”