West Brom coach Jimmy Shan looking for bragging rights over family and friends at St Andrew's
It may be Albion’s least hostile derby, but there is plenty of added incentive for first-team coach Jimmy Shan at Birmingham City this Friday.
Born in Bordesley Green, Shan first fell in love with football as a child when he used to watch the likes of Paul Peschisolido, George Parris and Jose Dominguez at St Andrew’s.
His mum Jacqui used to travel home and away with Birmingham City, and the majority of his family and friends support Blues.
On top of that, Shan started out his coaching career in the Birmingham academy, where he coached the under-12s and under-19s before joining Albion’s youth set-up.
Over the past 12 years he’s worked his way up to the Baggies first team and now he’s returning to the ground where it all started for him.
“It will be pretty special for me, sitting in the dugout,” he said. “Lots of my close friends will be in the stadium, cheering on the wrong team.
"I was a staunch Liverpool fan as a kid, but like many youngsters I wanted to become a professional footballer.
“Birmingham was the closest ground to where I lived, it was just a case of going down to try and educate myself. Never in a million years would I have seen myself as a coach in that dugout.”
Shan’s success story is one of diligence and hard work paying off. He’s always given everything to his coaching, but this week he’s desperate to win more than ever.
“My brother in law has tried many a time to get my two young boys into Birmingham City football kits and coats and tracksuits,” he revealed. “It’s proving very unsuccessful.
“The last thing we did accept was a Birmingham City bib, because we were happy for them to have babyfood down it!
“My mum was a massive Birmingham fan, she used to travel home and away.
“But happily she’s been converted to the Baggies thanks to my ties with West Brom. She’s been to every game this season.”
Shan was under-23s boss before head coach Darren Moore promoted him to the first team, but he rarely came across Birmingham City with the academy team.
Even though this game is nowhere near as hostile as derbies with Wolves and Aston Villa, he still believes there will be a bit of added spice on the night.
“I think so, because of us being in the Premier League for so many years and being separated from them,” he said. “I imagine we will be a club that most teams want to beat.
“Whenever you go against local teams and rivals and call it a derby game, it’s always going to be competitive and emotionally charged from the fan side of things.
“I’ve watched Birmingham a couple of times, they’ve been unfortunate in some games not to get all three points.
“They’re a competitive outfit, they’ve got a real good defensive structure and ability to shut teams out but they also pose a threat at top end of the pitch.”
And for Shan, there is the added incentive of lording it over the majority of his long-term friends.
“I've found out in last seven days, there’s quite a few that sit next to the dugout!” he said. “I imagine I’ll get some friendly fire abuse, but when we do get the three points I’ll give them the satisfaction of a little wink after the final whistle!”