Aston Villa and the great illusion

Dave Woodhall doesn’t watch Villa losing to Wolves.

I wasn’t at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon. Neither was I near a live stream, whether legal or illegal (I believe such things exist, although I’ve never seen one myself). I couldn’t even get to a radio. I was attending a memorial for an in-law and having some of those awkward conversations with people you don’t really know so I couldn’t even look at my phone very much, although I did have an urgent need to visit the toilet quite a bit from about 3.30 onwards.

The first couple of times the score was 0-0 and Villa were on top. Not bad; I can chat away to anyone with only a bit of added nerves. Excuse me, I just need to… Great, one-nil. Hello, nice to meet you. You must be…. Nice talking to you, do you mind if I?…. Get in. Two up, ten minutes to go.

So I spend the next quarter of an hour circling the room like a politician at election time. Rambling away to anyone who’ll listen, smiling, laughing, the veritable life and soul. Yes, lovely to see you, too. We must meet up again some time. Er, excuse me, I just have to nip to the….

The headline on the BBC football page reads “Villa still lead”. It’s got to be over now, surely? Three points, thank you very much. Click on the match report and WHAT THE!!!???!!! How did we manage to let them get a draw? Refresh the page and…

Right, come on. We’re off. Now. Thanks for a lovely afternoon but we really must be going. Quick, get your coat on before somebody notices that fist-sized dent in the toilet door.

And so, twenty-four hours later, I finally see the goals. A lovely cross from John McGinn and a header from Danny Ings. Another bullet from McGinn that should have wrapped it up. Then two bits of defensive calamity, a rash tackle and the sort of deflection that you get when your luck’s in. I read about the chances we had to put the result totally beyond doubt, the substitutions that could have been handled better, the visible draining of confidence after the first goal was conceded (which was excusable amongst the crowd given that the ability to mess up in such situations has been engrained for a decade and more, but less so amongst the players).

And I think about my wife’s uncle, a lovely old bloke and a football supporter himself, who I don’t doubt for a second would have been looking down, and smiling, and totally understanding my completely irrational behaviour.

If you didn’t see it, did it really happen?

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