On March 27th 1994, Aston Villa ended a long wait for silverware after beating Manchester United 3-1 in the League Cup at Wembley. It was their first trophy since their double European triumph of the European Cup and European Super Cup in 1982 and 1983 respectively. The wait had seemed an eternity with over a decade of drastically mixed fortunes – from relegation to two top tier runner’s up finishes.
It’s 21 years to the day of the Wembley triumph under Ron Atkinson. Two seasons later, Brian Little took Villa to Wembley to repeat the trick, and sadly that is the last time Villa won a major trophy (the Intertoto and Peace Cup don’t count!). All the club have to show for these 18 years is two cup final defeats.
Sadly, there’s a generation of Villans who haven’t seen the club at their best (although we have a great chance in the FA Cup this season still). Still, we’re here to reminisce.
For me the 1994 League Cup triumph was sweeter than the one that followed two years later. Manchester United’s scalp is bigger than Leeds, and this Red Devils team with Cantona, Keane and Hughes, were the league champions having denied Villa the first Premier League title the previous year. In the end, an added significance of Villa’s 3-1 victory was to deny United a domestic treble.
Personally, it was also a victory over my dad’s team, which meant I didn’t need to clutch at straws and mention 1957 anymore, which was well before my time anyway.
The route to Wembley had been enjoyable too. My first Blues derby, I still remember the helicopter and its search light buzzing above the Trinity and Holte End before the game, which was then followed up with three away wins at Sunderland, Spurs and Arsenal. Villa certainly did it the hard way that season and were rewarded with the easiest of the other three remaining teams in the semi-final.
We all know what happened over two legs against Tranmere. I still remember waking up on the Sunday morning before the second leg and thinking it was so typically Villa to potentially blow this trip to Wembley (fast forward to that Bradford City semi-final for proof of that). I actually had second thoughts about going. As a compromise, instead of taking my normal bus to Villa Park, I decided to walk from Handsworth to the game just to overcome my apathy. It did the trick and the rest is history.
That game and the resulting Wembley final, to this day, are two of my finest Villa memories. UTV.
[Click on the gallery for full screen viewing]
If you have any photos from what was a great day out in 1994, drop us a line at [email protected] . UTV