Meet the ex-Birmingham City player who runs a Blues pub with John Eustace among his customers

The Roost has become the city’s primary venue for Birmingham City fans on matchdays, but just how has it become so popular that even the likes of Tom Brady, Stephen Knight and Ed Sheeran have popped in?
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When he was playing in pre-season games for Birmingham City, Rob Burns may not have imagined that he’d be running a pub just down the road from St Andrew’s a few years later.

But Rob, alongside his partner Hollie, has helped to turn The Roost in Small Heath into the primary pub for Birmingham City supporters.

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Hollie is the manager of The Roost. She took over the reins 12 months ago after working behind the bar for a few years. Rob and Hollie now run the place for the owners, and Rob’s connections with St Andrew’s have certainly helped to raise the profile of the pub in recent months.

Now 42, Rob played for Birmingham between 1997 and 2001, and he briefly played as a youth player with the now former Blues boss John Eustace, who was, of course, replaced by Wayne Rooney as head coach just a few weeks ago. A cruciate ligament injury meant Rob was out injured for a whole season, and his contract didn’t get renewned after that.

He still keeps in contact with Eustace, and he messaged him after he was sacked from the club at the start of October, giving him his best wishes. Eustace thanked him for his support and has been known to pop in to see his old youth team-mate Rob.

Rob is also friends with the likes of Andrew Johnson and Geoff Horsfield. Horsfield is a known regular at The Roost and Johnson the godfather to his children. “I go back a long way with them, about 25 years,” Rob said.

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The Roost may appear like any other community pub from the outside, but it has attracted a number of famous faces over the last couple of years. Thanks to the pub’s links with Birmingham City, two of the biggest stars in the world in Ed Sheeran and Tom Brady have also both been inside the Brummie boozer in recent times.

It’s quite remarkable to think that Sheeran, one of the best-selling music artists in history, and Brady, who is widely regarded as the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, have both popped in to chat to Birmingham City fans here, and it’s testament to the venue’s aim in becoming the city’s primary pub for Blues supporters which has enabled it to attract these stars.

Rob and Hollie, who now run The Roost pubRob and Hollie, who now run The Roost pub
Rob and Hollie, who now run The Roost pub

And with the Cattell Road pub’s reputation growing, could Rooney, the newly-appointed Blues boss, be the next star to turn up in the Small Heath pub? “I can’t imagine he’ll come to the pub but people do think if he’ll turn up anywhere in Birmingham, then he’ll turn up here because we do tend to get people in don’t we?” said Rob.

Rob was also in The Roost the night Sheeran came in. “It wasn’t until he’d left that I’d realised just how big he is - probably the biggest pop star in the world,” he added.

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Rob and Hollie didn’t run the pub when Sheeran popped in in April 2022 with his friend and local Birmingham rapper Jaykae, but Hollie worked at the pub at the time and Rob was a regular, enjoying a pint when the UK and US chart-topper popped in.

Sheeran visited the pub on the same night as a pool tournament was being hosted, and videos soon emerged online with Blues fans dancing and singing with Sheeran. As well as trying his hand at pool, the singer-songwriter was also given the chance to pour some pints for customers behind the bar.

The atmosphere around the pool table was lively, with Sheeran pausing during games to enjoy a singsong with the punters. It’s not often a Grammy nominated singer drops into your local, but those in The Roost pub were given a night to remember.

Rob, a life-long Blues fan, said: “My daughter phoned me and said someone’s saying Ed Sheeran is at the bar, and I was like: ‘He’s right next to me, here’ – nobody believed it.”

The Roost, Birmingham’s primary Birmingham City fans pubThe Roost, Birmingham’s primary Birmingham City fans pub
The Roost, Birmingham’s primary Birmingham City fans pub
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Rob said Sheeran asked who he was on the phone to and when he said his daughter, Ed said he’d facetime here as a surprise. “We took a screenshot of that call and she had that photo turned into a picture for her room.”

It was unexpected surprise, something the pub’s managers and owners have gotten used to in recent months. Following the much-needed takeover of Birmingham City by Tom Wagner’s Knighthead Capital Management in the summer, shortly after, the club announced NFL icon Tom Brady as a new investor.

The Roost welcomed another two huge names through its Small Heath doors on August 12 prior to Blues’ 1-0 win over Leeds. Rob said: “On the morning of the game we had Stephen Knight in here (the creator of Peaky Blinders) and we asked him if we could have a picture of him next to our Peaky Blinders mural outside, but he said: ‘If you wait 15 minutes you’ll have an even better photo opportunity’, and then we knew he (Brady) was coming.

Pub gardenPub garden
Pub garden

“Tom Brady and his team were in the pub for around 20 minutes and then they came out into the garden for half an hour. They were in the corner chatting with Blues fans, had pictures and were outside with people despite having a lot of security with them.”

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The seven-time super bowl winner cut a relaxed figure and appeared to be enjoying his reception at the packed boozer before his new club kicked off against Leeds.

Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight at The Roost on August 12Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight at The Roost on August 12
Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight at The Roost on August 12

With the likes of Brady and Rooney now getting involved with the club, it’s clear the American owners have big ambitions for Birmingham, and The Roost wants to be involved with the club and its plans. Rob said: “It’s rammed on matchdays - there’s a really good atmosphere and we have a DJ on after the game. It’s really busy.”

He added: “It’s always been one of the main Blues pubs in the city,” said Rob. “I’ve had links to the pub myself prior to running it, and I still know a lot of people at Birmingham City, so we decided with all the positivity around the club, to try and raise the profile of the pub a little bit.”

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