Here we are again. Advancing a place without kicking a ball. I told you that the international break would be better this time.

Time has clouded the effect that Birmingham’s side-step of the rules had on Rovers relegation, since last season was such joyous fun.

As regards their rivals from across the city, I have always enjoyed a trip to Villa Park.

From my first visit - a fierce 1-0 cup replay defeat when Rovers were a third division side and Villa were one year away from winning the title - it has been a place with great, and one or two awful, memories.

My most memorable experience was not a Rovers game but both the preliminaries and the postscript are BRFC related.

As the member of the Rovers’ community programme with the least dignity and most exuberance for football I was asked to take part in a six-v-six game before the 1991 FA Cup semi-final between Nottingham Forest and West Ham.

The only downside on this hot April day was that I was to be dressed in a dog costume as befits a Rover.

The events are too self-regarding and long to share here, but I made a sort of pal of the Villa mascot.

We kept in touch and met up in Birmingham in 1992 when Rovers played at Villa.

The season later the game was scheduled for New Years Day 1994 and was another opportunity to meet up.

However before the game got underway, as Rovers casually warmed up 70 yards away, some players including Alan Shearer were laughing and trying to hit my pal with the practice balls.

Suffice to say I’m sure many there will remember the combination of my pal’s huge lion head, Alan Shearer’s outstanding accuracy and the connection of ball and woolly noggin leading to a kind of slow-motion slump and fall.

Oddly my pal didn’t turn up to meet my friends and show us the lights of the second city.

So onwards to Villa Park this weekend.

Let’s hope it is again them and not us with their face dropping lower than a serpent’s stomach.