Author Topic: 30th Anniversary  (Read 5906 times)

martin@

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30th Anniversary
« on: February 17, 2011, 12:02:36 PM »
It was a surreal day for me and my mates. We got to New St with no travel organised and Andy Brown's 2 coaches were C Crew regulars only with the special trains utterly sold out. We were heading down to Digbeth when a 50 year old Arthur Daley lookalike asked us if we wanted to jump on his coach to London for a fiver. On we jumped, chuffed to bits at our luck.

The journey down was a claret and blue car / coach fest, with the hard shoulder the longest urinal in British motoring history as boozed up Villa fans ensured the neighbouring fields retained their greenness. We were dropped off near the ground to be told by Arthur Daley that the return would only be leaving the Green Man in Edgware Rd at closing time. I was at school in 6th form then and was raiding the piggy bank and working with my old man to afford footie and a few pints twice a week, so I had just about enough money left for a bag of chips and a can of pop to last me the whole day.

It was very hot and sunny before the game and the pubs and streets near the ground were overflowing with Villa fans. Surprisingly the (admittedly older) Arsenal fans who spoke to us were pretty friendly and thought we were the best team in the league and told us we would definitely win it. Oft neglected in reports of that day is the fact that Arsenal needed to win to qualify for the UEFA Cup so they were really up for it.

Entering the ground from the left side (of course) of the Clock End we bumped into Pele who for some strange reason was there that day. Why he was walking from the Clock End to the stand I have no idea. The atmosphere had been pretty lively but turned moody before kick off when loads of Arsenal came charging down the stand on the left looking for trouble. I actually felt for the kids who got stuck in to them and subsequently nicked, as they doubtless missed the most important Villa game in years, as well as probably copping a thumping fine too.

The game itself was hell on earth - the Villa seemed to freeze and play with lead in their boots and the 2 goals seemed to be conceded in slow motion. We were truly awful. At half time we were in the pits of despair and I felt as physically sick as I ever have done in my life with the Villa.

We all know that Bosko saved the day - just as well as we were never, ever going to trouble Arsenal ourselves. The rumours from blokes with radios did start to change the mood but I was convinced both that Ipswich would come back from the dead and that all the radio rumours were incorrect. That famous clock behind us went as slowly as any other in history, a record it was to hold until another clock in Rotterdam seemed broken for 26 minutes a year later.

The final whistle was as much relief as ecstasy. Within seconds thousands of Arsenal fans were on the pitch from the North Bank and the police managed to form a cordon. The atmosphere was very ugly as I reckon they were determined not to let us celebrate on their pitch, and without the police it would have been really nasty as Villa obviously had a fair number of nutters out that day. We got onto the pitch ourselves and picked up some turf but it all felt surreal - celebrating the title after our worst performance of the season.

We decided to head to Victoria to get a National Express back to Brum as none of us wanted to get home at 3 in the morning. Getting back to the tube was a battle as the cops stopped us going to Arsenal and pointed us to Finsbury Park where loads of Gooners were looking for Villa fans. The cops told us to shut our traps and we would be fine but there were only 5 of us and it got a bit hairy. Some kids from our estate were in the tube carriage next to ours and the Arsenal fans wandering around got in with them and one of the Pheasey lads was stabbed. We found out the next day he needed stitches but it was not too serious. We managed to get a coach back to Brum - my mates lent me the fare - and got back in time for 1 pint (thanks to my mates again) in the Pen and Wig in Dale End before 10.30 closing and the bus home. We were so mentally and physically exhausted that none of us could get up next morning to see the trophy at the Town Hall.

It truly was a strange way to win the league (and one hell of a day out) and I have always rued the lack of sheer elation and absolute adrenaline that should have come from our last title win. Satisfaction yes, but not 100% unrestrained joy. On the coach home we were talking as much about getting to Wembley as having won the league - none of us had been in 1977 due to family unemployment. We knew it was a great achievement but in comparison I have felt more elation after final wins. Not to worry: the unadulterated joy of Rotterdam a year later was the consummate example of what winning a trophy really felt like. Surely the future would always be like this....?

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« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 10:14:40 AM by spritzer »