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Some Candy Taking - Derby Away Report


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A report of a surreal day at a surreal ground as experienced by a scouting party from the North West Villans.

The day started with a mixture of hail, sunshine and rain on my short trip to Bickster's house in Formby. That was about as normal as it got all day.

It's true that the subsequent drive to Derby was routine enough, it's also true that the while the pub was a little bit special, and the beer both nutritious and delicious, and the company excellent, including another VTer, TrentVillan, nothing looked likely to really jolt us out of our happy and relaxed reverie. It was more a creeping thing.

First off there was the ground - pretty much full, despite Derby's appalling season. I can think of plenty of places where that wouldn't be the case. Then there was the stadium announcer - without any sense of irony he was really trying to ramp up the importance of the game as an event. It didn't quite fit right. Sure both sets of fans, and (as it turned out) one set of players wanted to win, but come on - he was a bit detached from reality.

As we Villans settled into position the atmosphere was good, both teams looking fairly evenly matched in terms of play, with perhaps Derby starting slightly the brighter.

It wasn't to last that way though. Just as we were beginning to think that it wasn't going to be a walk over - Freddie Bouma with a last ditch tackle saving us from perhaps going behind, and that Derby weren't that bad after all, Roy Carroll came flailing out of his goal for one of Ashley Young's free kicks taken from our left, and he missed it. I don't know if Martin Laursen got a touch after that, or if it went straight in, but 25 minutes or so gone and we could settle ourselves down and try and play a bit more controlled football.

Gareth Barry and Stan Petrov started to get a grip in centre midfield, Big John's hold up work came more to the fore and we began easing ourselves well on top.

Within a couple of minutes we had another, Carew belting the ball powerfully through a crowd from the edge of the box.

Not long before half time Roy Carroll decided to give us another helping hand - a poor kicked clearance went straight to Stan on the edge of the centre circle. Instantly Stan hit it back over Carroll's head, left footed and into the corner of the net. A goal of stunning skill.

By now, it was like big boys taking the sweets from the small boys or a junior school side playing a senior school side. Every time the ball went loose, Villa picked it up. We were on song, but Derby were dire. They'd just collapsed.

The second half started a bit like last weeks game - the struggling side, given a telling off at half time roused themselves for a bit of an effort, for a while, but it came to now't.

Villa got back in control and scored a 4th - Gareth Barry knocking in a rebound after Gabby's shot was saved by Carroll when put through easily by the splendid Ashley Young.

Around about this time, the Derby fans, who had been quiet, started a grand piece of theatre - for some reason they all started cheering wildly and chanting - perhaps in response to winning a throw in, or had Forest let in a goal elsewhere - I don't know.

Gallows humour I suppose. It was followed by a succession of mexican waves. None of all this had anything whatsoever to do with their abject team. It was just the Derby fans making their own amusement. Quite a sight to see, and it all brought smiles and applause from the Villans in the ground. The last time we gave someone an away tonking like this was at Leicester about 3 years ago, and they went angry mental at their team. Derby were like "they're nothing to do with us, that lot on the pitch, we're just having fun"

On the pitch Villa decided to score another one, after a period of wasting chances and moves breaking down. it was ridiculously one sided. Gabby this time scored after being put through by a rebound, I think.

Martin O'Neill let Gareth and Big John have a rest, and Salifou and Marlon have a go at stealing sweeties.

Marlon did the better of the two, as he helped himself to a thumping goal when Paddy Berger, the third sub just played him in.

The game ended, we'd won 6-0, played well, Derby had been truly, desperately, bad. Their fans - the ones who stayed at least, were a credit.

Some marks for our school bullies

Carson - a Mars bar snaffled from a brilliant save in the second half.

Olly - had a few goes at goal, had a forward in his pocket, and ended up with some Maltesers and a Toblerone for a good performance.

Martin Laursen - Paul McGrath's wine gums?

Zat - Smarties off Kenny Miller

Freddie - A packet of spangles and a kit-kat for a solid bit of full-back play

Nigel Reo Coker - had a terrific haul of opal fruits, but gave a number of them away.

Stillain Petrov - a chocolate truffle was his reward for an brilliant goal and game. top man.

Gareth Barry - Our Prefect garnered himself a selection of Bon-bons

Ashley Young - Bassets allsorts for Ash, Plenty in his box.

Big John - He's bigger than me or you and earned himslef a big Yorkie Bar for his efforts.

Gabby - He wasn't quite a kid in a sweetshop today, but his sweet tooth for goals brought him a bag of Celebrations.

None of the subs were on long, but they shared a haul of nutty slack.

One last comment - at half time Derby let people out the ground to blink in the sun, buy food and toke on a gasper if they wanted. Very enlightened. We should do that at VP - the banished baked potato stall could be out there, too.

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And I believe it was Mellberg trying to steal Carroll's Picnic for our first, not his Scandinavian fellow bully :)

Good report. Sounds like a great away day for all :)

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