Dave Woodhall on Villa’s double win and other matters.
Three weeks until the season proper starts, and events at Villa Park, if not exactly hotting up, are starting to get warmer.
Saturday saw the first opportunity to watch the team (unless you’d been in Austria last week) as Villa XIs played Telford and Worcester, both of the Conference North. Like last week’s opponents GAK, the sides Villa faced on Saturday play at level six, but England’s non-league set-up is clearly stronger than its Austrian counterpart as both Villa teams had harder games than might have been expected.
In the early kick-off Telford took an early lead and it was a while until Villa to find their rhythm, but late goals from Jordan Ayew and Ally Cissokho spared a few blushes (and the first cliche of the season is now out of the way). Villa had looked a lot brighter as the game wore on and only an inspired display from Telford’s keeper kept the score down.
There were no such heroics at Stourport, where Worcester City hosted part two of the afternoon’s proceedings. Villa again let in the opening goal but Jack Grealish soon equalised and the final 5-1 scoreline accurately reflected the 90 minutes.
Nobody seriously believes that any of the matches so far have provided any hint of what the seaosn will bring. They’re about reminding the players what a football looks like and introducing the new arrivals to the rest. Days like Saturday, where almost five thousand spectators were in attendance, also help to fly the claret and blue flag in areas where we should be looking to boost our support. We have to accept that life in the Championship is out of sight, out of mind to many potential fans and everything we do to remind them that we still exist is to be encouraged.
Talking of our support at away games, tickets for the first match at Shefield Wednesday went on sale in the week and the £42 price led to predicted, and justified, protests. It’s not right that clubs with large travelling support should be exploited in this way and it’s ridiculous that the Premier League can impose a maximum ticket price for away fans but the Football League hasn’t yet done so. In the meantime there’s a petition to be signed at www.change.org/p/sheffield-wednesday-football-club-revise-the-ticket-prices-for-sheffield-wednesday-vs-aston-villa-and-leeds-united
One thing to bear in mind though – calls for Villa to penalise away fans by charging an equally exorbitent price for the return game are totally wrong. It’s not Wednesday fans, or fans of any club, who set the prices. Indeed, the people responsible for these acts of larceny have probably not had to pay to get into any ground for years. I wish football supporters would realise that we’re all on the same side. We have more in common with the people in the away end than those in our own directors box. They’re allies, not enemies, and the more we can understand that and work together, the better deal we’ll all get.
In other news, Roberto di Matteo has said he wants to get rid of a few players, hinted that a striker will be the next arrival and Tony Xia has made his debut on Twitter. A Villa director engaging with fans via the internet – what could possibly go wrong there?
And so the opposition turns up a notch in the coming week, with visits to League One Bristol Rovers on Wednesday then French side Nantes next Saturday. Hopefully t here’ll be another new signing or two to watch, but at least the tickets are reasonable.