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(photo by Sven Devaal)

Aston Villa Away Days: Norwich City

By Kerry Lenihan

My oh my, what a beautiful glorious weekend it was.

We arrived in Norwich around 11am on the 10.17 train from Great Yarmouth, and headed straight to The Compleat Angler, a fairly nice drinking establishment situated on the river. The sun was shining and after the complete annihilation of Sunderland, everyone seemed quite optimistic. By midday, the Villa family had taken over the pub, you could barely take a sip of your pint without someone starting another chant. The few very brave canaries who chose to walk through, were hounded with ‘who the f**king hell are you’. The build up to the game followed a fairly familiar sequence: go to bar, get drink, chant, sing, spill drink, sing some more, go back to bar, and repeat.

‘There were 10 Dalmatians walking down the street, 10 Dalmatians walking down the street and Carson Yeung fancied a bite to eat, now there’s 9 Dalmatians walking down the street’ is proving a new favourite.

As we made our way down the ground, just a short 10-minute walk from the pubs, the claret and blue army were in full voice. Squeezing into our seats just before kickoff, my stomach started fluttering; could Lambert return to Carrow Road for a second time this season and win?

To be honest, the first half offered little excitement, with the only heat coming from the dazzling May sunshine, but that didn’t stop the roaring Villa crowd from keeping the atmosphere going. ‘Lambert, Lambert, give us a wave’ is always a good laugh, but even more so playing his former – and not bitter whatsoever – side. Villa seemed a little flat following Monday’s excitement. Usually, I don’t like to comment too much on individual players in my articles, as they’re more an away day experience oversight, but my gosh, Joe Bennett! Can we please loan him out for a bit? Continuously pulling shirts outside the box is child’s play.

The second half proved much more enthralling. Just 10 minutes after the restart, the Canaries were stunned as Villa snatched the lead; Gabby picked up a loose ball on the halfway line, drove forward into space and pelted a low-shot into the bottom corner. 1-0!! Villa had finally woken up from the dizzy slumber of Sunderland, as they edged forward.  After 20 mins or so of attack, Norwich sneaked away, and in desperation, Bennett hauled Snodgrass to the ground, just inside the penalty box. Holt sent Guzan the wrong way from the spot to make it 1-1.

 

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Gabby spending quality time alone with the traveling Villa faithful

 

The game turned on its head and Villa just couldn’t worm their way back in, until in the final minutes. Westwood gifted the most gorgeous through ball to the feet of Gabby, who coolly slotted it into the back of the net. It felt like possibly the slowest goal ever, as time stood still between shot and goal, but when it finally trickled over the line, the away fans erupted. Pure ecstasy surged through my veins, as random people kissed my head; my friend ended up three rows back in the mist of celebration. What a feeling!

‘Gabby, Gabby, Gabby, Gabby, Gabbbbbby Agbonlahorrrrrrrrr, he’s fast as f**k’ …also he is so damn cool. Took it like a boss!

As we made our way back to the pub, ‘Lambert loves us more than you’ was the only song on everybody’s lips. You really can’t fault our away support, loud, chirpy and a delight to travel with.

We celebrated long into the night back in Yarmouth, thanks to the very savvy DJ at The Pier Tavern, who just kept playing a medley of Villa tunes. Karma Chameleon, of course, featured highly. For those of you who visited Norwich last season you’d have appreciated my friend’s status update: ‘Why is everyone taking their shoes off…McLeish has already gone’…. And on that note, I’ll see you all in Wigan. UTV.

 

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