A date to remember

Dave Woodhall on Villa’s 2-1 win over Sunderland and other affairs of the day.

21st November is a significant date for a number of reasons. First of all, a few years ago someone decided it was the day the Villa were founded. There’s no evidence to say this particular date over any other was the one, but like a lot of other myths that have grown up in the internet age, it’s become accepted as fact. I suppose someone in a marketing department got a bonus for thinking it up, and if so well done to them for getting away with it. There’s a couple more anniversaries on this day but more of them later.

For now, let’s celebrate another three points in Villa’s promotion push. Sunderland, who tried their hardest but still couldn’t emulate us for relegation ineptitude last season, arrived with a new manager and in the same kind of trouble we might have been in had we had the same owner. Villa/Adomah (the words are interchangeable) scored early on and the crowd settled back to see how many more we could get. Trouble was, the team settled back a bit too much as well and let Sunderland uncomfortably back into the game.

Half-time was an opportunity to take stock and changes things round. Villa yet again started like they meant business and Josh Onomah got the sort of goal that teams at the top of the league score and those at the bottom concede when his shot took a huge deflection to put us two-nil up. Again it should have been the springboard to a comfortable win but again we didn’t do enough afterwards to kill the game off.

In fact, we did our best to put Sunderland right back in it with another defensive lapse making the score 2-1. It really is incredible to think the difference that John Terry’s absence has made, particularly when thinking back to how many of us didn’t want him signed in the summer (And I’ll admit I was at best undecided at the time).

Luckily that was enough calamity for the evening and some sensible substitutions from the manager, plus the totemic Alan Hutton to help guide us over the line, another three points were won. Up to fourth and although it wasn’t a spectacular game, maybe we were remembering that there’s another one coming up on Saturday so no point in doing more than was necessary. That’s the excuse and we’re sticking to it. Then again, there can’t be many Sheffield United supporters who wouldn’t have traded our dour three points for their nine goal thriller.

21st November also sees the 49th anniversary of the Digbeth Civic Hall meeting that led to the overthrown of the old board and the arrival of Doug and his Merry Men. It says much about football in those days that while fourth in the second division would have been a vast improvement on the club’s fortunes then, not one man in that history-making audience would have said that it was good enough for Aston Villa. Many would argue that it still isn’t, but they just knew we’d eventually improve on it, and then some.

More importantly, the date is also 43 years since the the pub bombings. Tribute was paid at Villa Park to the victims on Tuesday night and the fight continues into what could prove to be the biggest government cover-up of modern times. Everyone connected with the city should demand Justice for the 21.