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Not So Young After All ( Part One)


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By sherrifvilla

Sherrifvilla leads us an another trip down memory lane

Recently, there have been a few enjoyable 'trip-down-memory-lane' articles from some of VT community, such as Richard, Malc and Drat. On one of the threads, the Sheriff made a joke about them all being old and chuckled to himself at the PC.

As he did this, his Dad walked in the room and asked what was funny. After the Sheriff explained, his Dad pointed out that he isn’t such a young man himself after all - and he did so with some delight!

So, on the basis of (sadly) realising his Dad was correct - as well as a serious lack of Villa action - the Sheriff has decided to take his own trip down memory lane. So much so, that this is merely the first installment

Back when I was a little kid, my parents split up. While it was horrible at the time, I’m glad they did, for two reasons. The first is they got back together a few years later, and are still together now. The second is – back in the day, I would spend the week with my mom and the weekends with my dad. It’s quite conceivable that I might not have gone to my first game in 1988 had they been together, for a variety of reasons.

I even remember the date – 22nd October 1988. I remember the team (Spink, Price, Keown, Evans, Mountfield, Gray, Gage, Cowans, Platt, Daley, McInally) and us scoring two spectacular goals through Tony Daley and David Platt. Platt also had one disallowed. I remember Neville Southall making a couple of fantastic saves, and I can recall Kevin Gage getting kicked up in the air by Peter Reid. I don’t remember much else though, aside from being excited to see (my hero at the time) Alan McInally, and the ball nearly coming over to us in the lower Trinity, only for the bloke in the row in front to head it straight back – although that was pretty cool, in all fairness!

I didn’t go to loads more games that season, and my memory is pretty hazy. I do recall us beating Spurs in the next game, and then seeing my first defeat when we lost 2-1 to Derby. Some bloke called Dean Saunders got their goals…

After that game we moved to the North Stand, which helped me see the games better. The first game there was a 3-1 win against Norwich, and not long after I finally saw McInally get his first goal in a victory over Newcastle. Apart from these games though, I really do not remember a lot. I wasn’t allowed to go to night games for a while so I missed us beating Blues twice, and I also missed Davis Platt getting four (against Ipswich, I believe) and I sulked about it till I was eventually allowed to go to one. We lost to Southampton, and the first night game was a bit of an anti-climax!

I remember a LOT about the season after though. My first season ticket, we signed Paul McGrath and Kent Nielsen in the summer, and we finished runners-up in the league. Sadly as McGrath and Nielsen came in, McInally went the other way to Bayern Munich in the same summer. I still believe to this day that we would have won the league had he stayed. Ian Olney was given the task of filling his boots, and did a decent enough job, to be fair. I seem to recall thinking he would have been a bit better if he had been quicker, but I was still a fan at the time.

If I remember correctly we drew 1-1 with Liverpool on the opening day. But the first real big game I remember was beating Everton 6-2 on a Sunday afternoon, televised live game. We were a little late, and just about the first thing I saw was Sir Gordon Cowans smashing the ball in to put us 1-0 up. It was the first time I had really saw us hammer anyone, and I had the game taped in case it was any good… how lucky was that! I watched it over and over again in the next fortnight or so. Funnily enough the next home game we beat Coventry 4-1, and a few weeks later we beat Port Vale 6-0 in the FA Cup; this ‘hammering teams’ thing was getting old habit ;-)

The point I really knew this was a bit of a special season was when we beat Wimbledon away 2-0, because we just didn’t beat them, much like Man City today. I also recall that Christmas period where we destroyed Manchester United (3-0), Arsenal (2-1) and Chelsea (3-0) – imagine a little run like that today! Ok maybe not so much destroyed Arsenal but we were still brilliant. In the last game of the 1980’s, we were victorious. David Platt scored a fantastic goal, and Derek Mountfield scored a header that wonderfully broke the Arsenal offside trap. To this day I can still recall the majestic sight of the George Graham backline all with their hand in the air, while Mountfield buried his header like a good ‘un.

Early in 1990, I got to go to my first away game – against WBA in the FA Cup. Mountfield again got a goal, while Tony Daley finished things off nicely. That was also the only time, to my knowledge, that I have been seen on Match of the Day, as me & my Dad were caught on camera celebrating the Daley goal. When you’re a young lad, that type of stuff is just amazing!

Now, for the reasons stated so far, I have a huge amount of affection for this season. However I do have bad memories too… After a 2-0 away win against Spurs, I remember picking up the paper a day or two after, with a headline something like, ‘We wont lose again this season’, and it was an interview with our very own Kevin Gage. Even as an 8 year-old boy, I knew this was bad! Ok, I am sure his comments were taken out of context, but…

Next up, was Wimbledon. They beat us 3-0, and I remember in particular a John Fashanu penalty going in. Man, he hit them things so slow I am sure goalkeepers could have got back up and dived again! How very annoying. That was followed by a 2-0 defeat to Coventry at Highfield Road, which was the ‘Sunday Match Live’. Not long after a home defeat to Man City seemed to seal the deal, is how I remember it at the time.

Still we wasn’t completely out of it, and another live game – away to Arsenal – give me renewed optimism. The winning goal came from Chris Price, who I always felt was pretty under-rated. If anything, he was a little ahead of his time, as he was a proper wing-back. Well, that is how my childhood memories are, anyway… Still, it was a great night with him finally bagging a goal, as he was always getting in the positions to get on the scoresheet. I remember dancing around the living room with my Nan at the end of the match… good times.

Still, the night we lost it really was at Old Trafford. I believe Mark Robbins scored both goals in a 2-0 defeat. Me and my Dad were sat at the kitchen table with the radio on, and we were both pretty darn depressed. The season ended in a bang though. We drew 3-3 with Norwich on the final home game of the season, and the final away game we drew with Everton by the same scoreline.

It was a top season all round really. I can actually remember where I was when Paul McGrath signed (I was in my Grandad Kimberley’s chair), which is my where-were-you-when-JFK-died moment! David Platt was absolutely amazing, and Gordon Cowans was fantastic too. Tony Cascarino signed towards the end of the season and never really was a success unfortunately, but overall that was a darn good side.

After that, Graham Taylor went off to manage England, and Dr Jo Venglos come in. I think I have repressed a lot of memories from that season! Biggest memories are my first European game against Banik Ostrava (which was also the first game for my cousin Steven) and the following games against Inter Milan. The 2-0 home game was brilliant, obviously, and just as obvious is how horrible it was losing the away game 3-0! I also remember the 5-1 defeat at home to Man City. Strangely, I seem to remember us being much the better side in the first-half, as they had three shots – two went in, and one hit the post. David Platt also missed a one-on-one, which just never happened! The second half was a miserable experience though, and thankfully Dr Jo left that summer.

When I started going down in 1988, I was a fan of Michael Jackson, UB40, some other poppy stuff… in 1991, I started to change my musical taste, after I heard ‘Give It Away’ by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I started to get a lot more into guitar music, mainly from across the pond, and my life in many ways took a big turn, for the better.

My life as a Villa fan also took a big turn for the better around the same time, as Big Ron Atkinson took over…

To be continued!

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That's a cracker Kimbo! We're about the same so you dragged up a few of my old memories too there! In the Cov defeat, didn't Kevin Drinkell score with his first touch of the ball? Sickener.

Yeah I think he come on while Mountfield was off injured as well?

Mickey Gynn or whatever his name was got the other one! Minging!

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Great article! However, about Chris Price being "ahead of his time": in which case Stan Lynn and John Gidman were eons ahed of their time! Stan Lynn equalled the league's goalscroing record for a full-back in 1958 (9 goals) and scored another 7 two seasons after. And John Gidman was no slouch in getting up. I think John Robson (before he was put into midfield) was a pretty good attacking back as well. And what about Kenny Swain and Gary Williams?

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Great article! However, about Chris Price being "ahead of his time": in which case Stan Lynn and John Gidman were eons ahed of their time! Stan Lynn equalled the league's goalscroing record for a full-back in 1958 (9 goals) and scored another 7 two seasons after. And John Gidman was no slouch in getting up. I think John Robson (before he was put into midfield) was a pretty good attacking back as well. And what about Kenny Swain and Gary Williams?

Fair enough John.

It's easier to be prone to hero worship - and maintain those memories in that manner as you grow older - when you're a little kid though :)

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Great article! However, about Chris Price being "ahead of his time": in which case Stan Lynn and John Gidman were eons ahed of their time! Stan Lynn equalled the league's goalscroing record for a full-back in 1958 (9 goals) and scored another 7 two seasons after. And John Gidman was no slouch in getting up. I think John Robson (before he was put into midfield) was a pretty good attacking back as well. And what about Kenny Swain and Gary Williams?

Bit before my time John...Colin Gibson was a favourite of mine, swashbuckling LB, creative with an eye for goal. Quick in the tackle as well, which is handy for a LB.

Great read Sheriff, by the way. Think the New Year game with Arsenal was the only time I ever sat in the North Stand. Don't know why, fantastic view! Still have the picture of Mountfield getting in behind, steering his header majestically into the Holte End net.

Drove down to Arsenal away with a mate. Wednesday night game I think, met outside New Street station after work, about 5.30. Mate had the bright idea of parking away from the ground and getting a tube. Long story short we arrived 40 minutes in! Still early enough to see Pricey's measured rolled finish into the bottom corner. PRICELESS!

The last day game at Everton was a memorable day. We sang Graham Taylor's claret and blue army throughout the half-time break and a good while either side. Can still picture the faces of the Everton fans just staring open-mouthed in awe at these thousands of barmy Brummies, grinning dementedly. Fantastic game as well, remember Sid scoring a screamer, probably his best for Villa, in a 3-3 thriller. The game really was secondary though to the showing of appreciation for GT. It's easy to understand his affection for us, shame his achievements back then were tarnished, in some peoples eyes, by his second stint.

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