By Erdington Local news team
There was heartbreak and confusion in Kingstanding as local hero and boxer Niall Farrell’s gold medal dreams ended in a controversial defeat last night.
Coachloads of friends and family left Kingstanding Circle for the NEC to watch an international sporting spectacle where their star was expected to shine.
At Second City Bar & Lounge, Kingstanding Road, the red and white balloons had been blown up and the cross of St George laid across every available table in anticipation of a night to remember.
Despite being Monday evening, Second City had the packed out feeling of a Saturday; rounds of sour vodka shots were being shared around whether people ordered them or not.
The smokers outside stood underneath the old sign of the Kingstanding pub, which stands derelict across the Circle, happily knowing they had already claimed the best seats in front of the big screen.
Red ‘Team Farrell’ t-shits were the most popular item of clothing in the 100 plus crowd, and everyone had a tale to tell about their local boy done good.
There was a stampede inside when the boxing began, eagle-eyed punters spotted friends and family ringside on TV, and shouted hello to them.
The cheers reverberated around the club when Niall entered the ring following his Northern Irish opponent.
Though his crowd wore red, Niall wore blue, his hair pulled up into a ponytail and his tattoos looking perfect beneath a sheen of glistening sweat.
The action got underway and there was immediate flurry of punches between the fighters; there was no feeling each other out, it was instant action.
There were winces as Niall took the first shot and swearing to the roof when a looping right hand landed flush on the Kingstanding fighter’s head. A minute later and another punch landed, forcing the referee to give Niall a standing eight count.
Niall was showing flashes of brilliance, his class was there to see, but his opponent did not pay any attention to reputations.
Another punch landed, Niall’s leg slightly buckled but he was standing tall and ready to go, to power through to the next round.
However, the ref thought different – as the amateur rules are different to professional boxing, when even an armchair fan knows someone has to be knocked to the ground and fail to get up in ten seconds to lose.
The ref spoke to Niall, and his opponent ran to his team in celebration. One man in the Second City crowd spotted it first: “That’s it, he’s done, lost.”
It took about 30 seconds for everyone to realise the dream was over, the Sunday night watching Niall fighting for gold would not happen, nor the parade when the victorious hero brought the gold back to Kingstanding.
He had lost.
The finality of it was etched in his face as he refused to shake the ref’s hand; someone had let the air out of the room.
There was no anger, just a profound sadness a young man who dedicated his life to sport would not be one of the stars of his hometown Games.
One woman demanded to be interviewed so she could call it “a fix”, and a chippy whose shift tomorrow was looking more unlikely with every round added: “He could have carried on, he was not hurt, this is a rubbish way to end a boxing match.”
Francis Heeney spoke for everyone when he said: “Niall is a winner. He will not come back here a loser, he is our winner, who else here is fighting for their country in the Commonwealth Games? No-one.
“Niall loves Kingstanding, and we love him, whether he loses or wins.”
For more on Niall Farrell visit www.teamengland.org/news/generation-22-niall-farrell
For more on Second City Bar and Lounge visit www.facebook.com/secondcitybar.lounge