I can’t let pass without mention can I?
For fourteen years I’ve waited to say this – We beat the scum! I actually remember watching Match Of The Day that fateful day, the last time we, Villa, beat United in the league. I remember Hansen’s “You can’t win anything with kids”. 3-1. How I’ve clung to that score over the years.
I have to admit I only got into football in the early nineties to annoy a United supporting cousin. Having little or no physical aptitude had left cold towards the game until then, and after a season or so I was genuinely hooked. Why Villa? My Granddad is a Brummie, born near Villa Park. They’re his team. I had to keep up the tradition, so a Villain I am.
Since that opening day 3-1 victory in ’95, Villa’s record against United has been hard to take. It’s the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) record one team has over the other in the premier league. Oh, there’s been the occasional draw, but mostly defeat after defeat after defeat. Villa Park became almost a second home to the Scum. Making it worse, in 1999, Man Utd won the treble and my youngest brother, six or seven at the time and blinded by the shiny trophies, became a Scum fan. And for ten years he’s never known Villa beat United. Ten years of laughing and mocking.
We’ve been close over the years. Two nil up in the FA Cup only to lose 3-2 because of fucking Rudd Van Nistelrooy. Another time we were leading one nil well into the eightieth minute only for our defender, Alpay, to score an own goal. And, of course there was the result at Old Trafford last season.
Ah yes. That result. I don’t lay claim to being the biggest, most die-hard fan in the world, but that result. Wow. It hurt. In the fourteen years since we last beat United, we haven’t really deserved to. They’ve always had the better team and nearly always played better than us. But last season, that wasn’t the case. I watched the match and for once we were the better team. We played better, and that just added to the pain of the defeat.
United went a goal up ealry after a lazy back pass. That seemed to fire Villa up, we pushed forward and got two goals to take the lead. We were dominating the champions. We looked dangerous on every break. Then, out of nothing, bloody Ronaldo hit a scuffed left-footed shot that trickled in at the far post, underlying the fact that, as big as a cock as he is, the best players in the world make their own luck. It was level as it reached injury time, up went the board. 6 minutes. Sir Alex got his customary “third half”. Three minutes in, up popped Federico Macheda and scored THAT wonder goal. Of course, I can’t ever accept that, and it wasn’t a goal anyway because Petrov was fouled in the build up.
3-2. We were the better team and we lost. I couldn’t believe it. So angry was I, I punched my door several times, like a child having a hissyfit. I haven’t done anything like that since my teens, and only then because I was playing a particularly annoying videogame. The cruel injustice I felt was too much to bear. I had never felt this way over football before, and the result was a very sore subject many weeks and months afterwards.
All of which makes the victory on Saturday all the sweeter. I was working that day, so I was having to check the scores on my phone. Loading up the website became the most incredibly tense thing in the world. Each time I checked, I was certain that Villa would have conceded. That Gabby Agbonlahor scored was great, but being a Villain means you’re naturally pessimistic, so every time I checked I was certain I’d see an equalizer. The minutes ticked by and each reload of the page was agonizing. Villa were hanging on and on. It reached injury time and I had a knot in my stomach the size of a football. I was expecting the 6+minutes on the board. 3! I laughed, imagining Fergie’s stupid red face. Tick, tick, tick… Full-time! We’d fucking done it! I jumped around the shop like a loon. Fourteen years of hurt gone like that. I was so happy. Who’d have thought that twenty-two stupid men running around and kicking a bit of plastic could mean so much?
So now Villa are fourth in the table. Pundits are saying we are capable of breaking the big four monopoly. Me, I’m not getting carried away. We were third at Christmas last year and things went a little wrong and we ended up sixth. Let’s see how things go against Sunderland tonight…