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Opening Day Memories!


villa-revolution
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Not long now to the big Kick Off. As an appetizer I thought it might be an idea to take a bit of a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Feel free to share your memories. Although my first ever game at Villa Park was in 1968 versus Bristol City my very first opening day fixture was a very disappointing 1- 0 home loss to Norwich City in August 1969.

 

My favourite opening day memory was beating Plymouth Argyle 3-1 in the pouring rain at Villa Park in Division 3 with goals from one of my all time favourites Pat McMahon, Geoff Vowden,and  a penalty from Willie Anderson.

 

Any Villa fan who experienced our 3rd Division adventures will confirm that they were great & happy days indeed.

 

Another game I remember fondly was our opening day 2-1 defeat at home to the then mighty Leeds Utd in 1975. This was our return to the big time after almost a decade in the wilderness & confirmation to the whole world that we were back where we belonged.

 

I also fondly recall turning the Wolves over at the Molyneux with a late goal by Andy Gray in 1978 & I'm sure many will recall a great opening derby day fixture against West Brom in 1983 when Brendan Ormsby scored the winning goal in front of the Holte End after having earlier given Albion the lead by putting through his own goal in our remarkable 4-3 triumph.

 

A really miserable opening day was the 3-0 reverse at home to Spurs in 1986 from a Clive Allen hat trick. We eventually got relegated that season too but as always the fans were truly magnificent & totally out sung Old Trafford in a 3-1 reverse on the final day of the season having already been earlier relegated.

 

Possibly the most exciting opening day fixture was under `Big Ron` away to his former club Sheffield Wednesday in 1991. From 2-0 down at half time we came storming back with a dramatic late winner from Stan Staunton. I'm sure many fans have happy memories of this one.

 

I don't think our opening day fixture away to Ipswich in 1992 was that great a game but it is remarkable because it was our first ever Premier League encounter with Dalian Atkinson scoring our first ever Premier League goal. Where you there?

 

1996 saw us open up with a terrific home win against the Champions Man Utd at Villa Park in that legendary game where Alan Hanson stated "You'll win nothing with kids" on motd after we had stuffed 'em 3-1.

 

2000 saw us win a tough opening day fixture at Newcastle  at a time when Shearer was in his pomp with a great goal from Julian Joachim.

 

2003 saw a disappointing 2-1 opening day loss at Portsmouth. This game marked David O Leary's first competitive game in charge. A game in which he dropped Mellberg in favour of Alpay & Ronnie Johnsen. I never ever rated O' Dreary & this diabolical selection only compounded my suspicions of his inadequacies further. It was also the opening game in the Premier League that season kicking off at midday. (Thanks Sky for considering Villa's fabulous away day army in your usual solicitous way)

 

Encouragingly 2006 saw Aston Villa play the first ever competitive fixture held at the Emirates which saw `King Olof` famously score the first competitive goal in the stadium. It was MON's first competitive Villa game too & although it looked for a long time that we would hold on for a famous win, typically we succumbed to a dramatic late equaliser. What is it with us & conceding late bloody goals?

 

2009 saw us start with a great 4-2 home win against Man City & a fabulous hat trick from Gabby Agbonlahor. This was not the money bags team of Man City today but nevertheless they were by no means mugs either.

 

2010 saw the club in turmoil with the late & dramatic exit of Martin O' Neill just 5 days before the season opener against West Ham. However, under the temporary charge of Kevin Macdonald Villa played their best game of the entire season & played the hammers of the park with a very comfortable & enjoyable 3-0 win home win.

 

A 0-0 opening day draw at Fulham in 2011 with 15 men & the team bus parked immediately behind the goal line signalled the unadulterated  attacking intent & impulses of the most controversial managerial appointment ever in Villa's history.

 

Last season it was a disappointing trip to West Ham & a poor opening day defeat under the tutelage of the great Paul Lambert. Not remarkable but he has to start somewhere & did.

 

And so, it's almost that time again.

 

Some great times & some great games, I'm sure many VT members have their own happy memories. Some that I have also probably over looked?

 

Anyway, Arsenal it is, `We go again`. Bring it on.

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Great post-I think you've covered them all there.

 

My first "opening day" game was the Plymouth 3-1.I watched it from the newly installed blue seats in the Trinity enclosure,I wonder if the game would have gone ahead these days? Pat McMahon also broke his leg in that game.

 

I went to Preston the following year where we had a large following (as was the norm then) & won 2-0

 

I went to York a few years later (my first away game on a football special) and my abiding memory is the shock & excitement at seeing so many Villa fans on the concourse before getting the train.Not sure if this is the season that we got promoted or the season before.

 

Leeds was a disapointment,first game back in division 1.I remember going to Bristol City,traveling overnight on the train when I was about 18 & had started drinking about 1977/78.

 

The best one for me was the Sheffield Wednesday game & only Tranmere in the semi final surpasses it

 

The 3-1 Man U is also a fond memory.

 

One game I wasn't present at was the opening of Arsenals new ground,where we got a respectable 1-1 draw.A repeat in 2 weeks would be greatly accepted.

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One very very famous opening day fixture that I also forgot to mention was our historic opening day fixture at The Recreation Ground the home of Chesterfield in August 1970 that we magically won 3-2 with two goals from King of Villa Park Bruce Rioch & one from my own personal favourite player of that time Pat McMahon. That was Villa's 1st ever game in the old Division 3. Some of you may probably be hoping that it was also Villa's  last in the old 3rd Division too. Well in an odd sort of way it was because the following season we won the title with a record 70pts (2pts for a win in those days) & Chesterfield were our last ever 3rd Division match opponents on a friday night at Villa Park in front of 44,000 plus fans' Ian Ross scoring the glorious winner.

 

So we started out in the old 3rd Division against Chesterfield in 1970 & we checked out of the same division against the same opposition in May 72.

 

The old 3rd Division days under Vic Crowe, I remember them now as if they were yesterday. In fact I have a better memory for both of those seasons than I do for some of our more recent Premier League games.

 

The Villa renaissance can definitely be traced back to those fabulous days.

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My first thought was smashing QPR 4-1 on the opening day of the 1993/94 season.  There were three absolute screamers in that game,  Les Ferdinand from about 25 yards for them, Dalian Atkinson and Steve Staunton from a similar distance for us. 

 

Also a 2-2 against Bolton.  It was 2-2 after about 9 minutes, though the four goals were probably squeezed into about five minutes.  

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Also a 2-2 against Bolton.  It was 2-2 after about 9 minutes, though the four goals were probably squeezed into about five minutes.  

 That game is memorable for me as it was the last time I attended VP before moving to NZ 8 years ago...feels like only yesterday.

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I went to the 4-3 win against West Brom.  I believe it was 3-3 at half time.  My sister got married on opening day too, and I read out the score in my speech (I gave her away).  It was 2-2 at the time and people later asked me if that was really the score.  Why would I make it up?  I can't wait for the season to start which is a nice change from the last 3 years.

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Five opening days that I well recall (2 of which I would rather forget):  

 

76/7 a 4-0 home win against West Ham with goals from Gray (2) & Graydon (2) was a very nice start.  

81/82 a 0-1 home defeat to newly promoted Notts County was a shocker for the champions.

82/83 a 1-3 home defeat against Sunderland proved the same for us the Euro champs the following season.

91/92 a 3-2 away win at Big Ron's former club Sheffield Weds with Staunton, Regis and Atkinson was inspiring.

95/6 a 3-1 home win against Manchester United's kids with goals from Taylor, Draper & Yorke.

 

It was before our time but I guess our best opening day would have been:

 

1925/26 a 10-0 home win against Burnley with goals from Capewell (5), Walker (3), York & Stephenson!

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The 2010 game against West Ham was one of the best games I've ever seen us play. Downing & Petrov were superb that day, it could have been 6, easily.

 

I remember Milner getting a standing ovation when subbed despite us all knowing he was about to leave. He was brilliant that day.

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The 2010 game against West Ham was one of the best games I've ever seen us play. Downing & Petrov were superb that day, it could have been 6, easily.

 

I remember Milner getting a standing ovation when subbed despite us all knowing he was about to leave. He was brilliant that day.

 

 

Oh yes, I knew I was forgetting someone. Milner was head and shoulders above everyone that day, which made it all the more difficult to take when he left.

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The 2010 game against West Ham was one of the best games I've ever seen us play. Downing & Petrov were superb that day, it could have been 6, easily.

 

I remember Milner getting a standing ovation when subbed despite us all knowing he was about to leave. He was brilliant that day.

 

 

Albrighton was brilliant that game as well, we really should have won about 7 or 8 nil. though the opposition were absolute garbage and no surprise they went down

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