Friday was touch and go, as to whether I’d actually make it back up to Brum from the snowy capital for the game on Saturday. However after receiving the go ahead from the Villa family via Twitter, I trundled across the city, jumped on a train and 2 hours later found myself in the Briar Rose, 11am and time for a pint…soon followed by many more.
Around 4pm we braved the breezy outside and headed towards Snow Hill. Chanting a few cheery tunes along the way ‘Oi Oh Oi Oh… it’s up the Holte we go,’ as we crossed Pigeon Park, a solitary snowball flew past; I can only assume it was thrown by one of the ‘many’ noses en route to St. Andrews.
The station was buzzing, mostly with flashes of Claret and Blue, a warning from the nearby police to ‘calm down or risk not attending the game’ prompted a round of ‘shhhhhh, shhhhh’, luckily they’ve got a sense of humour. The train journey itself was far from quiet; the rowdy Villa lot provided enough entertainment to make the short journey pass almost instantly. Everything from ‘My old man, said be a city fan,’ to, ‘his name is Jesus, he does what he wants’ (If you don’t know Jesus, you are missing out).
Now I don’t know about you, but West Brom have never really been big rivals of mine personally, my school was either Villa or Blues, and I only know a single season ticket holder at The Hawthorns, however for some reason the Baggies lot seemed to believe Saturday’s game was on the same level as an FA Cup final. ‘We know what you are, we know what you are, obsessed with the Villa, we know what you are’ echoed around the station, down the train, and up the stairs long before we were seated.
Never been a huge fan of the mammoth hill as you exit the station, and the ice/snow made it all the more treacherous to climb, a fair few slips occurred, much to our amusement. Once we’d been frisked, and allowed to enter the ground, ‘Paul Lambert’s Claret & Blue army – A.V.F.C’, bellowed through the terrace. We’d sold out our allocation, but thankfully the space was much more accommodating than the squished conditions at Valley Parade.
As we made our way to our seats for kick off, they were replaying some shots from the ‘yam-yam cam’, an initiative I find most peculiar, considering the ‘yam-yam’ language is possibly one of Britain’s worst. This prompted a delightful round of ‘yam, yam, yam, yam, yam, yam, yam, yam, yam, yam’ to the tune of Two Unlimited’s ‘No Limits’.
The atmosphere was pretty decent to begin with, except for the idiot who set off a flare right next to us, without any prior warning. Didn’t expect to be seeing blue for the first 5 minutes. When did this become a thing that we do? Oh well, the joke was on him when it set on fire and he couldn’t put it out.
The first half was pretty good, our fans were very lively, and so were the team. Benteke’s goal was an absolutely belter, Charlie was on fire slotting a smooth through ball to provide Gabby with the assist for another beautiful goal. ‘We’re winning away, we’re winning away, how shit must you be, we’re winning away’. As half time approached, the claret + blue army were on cloud 9, whilst the yam yam’s weren’t so pleased, sure I heard them boo their team off the pitch. However good as the first half had been, we all know the Villa, this wasn’t over yet.
To be honest their fans were rather flat, which did make me miss the real Brum derby a fair bit; least there’s a bit of banter there.
As (sadly) predicted, we lost our heads in the second half, throwing away leads is just the kind of team we are at the moment. Brunt smacked home a scorcher a few minutes after play resumed, and we turned into headless chickens, the fear set in, again. This half was much more subdued, from both sets of fans, which I found odd, if Villa somehow managed to turn a 2-0 deficit around, I feel we’d be going mental. As the second goal for West Brom was slotted home by Odemwingie, I don’t think anyone flinched, you could see it coming a mile off. Dropped points once more.
Things turned sour after the final whistle, as a mass brawl erupted, with stewards, doing their best to keep both sets of fans apart. I didn’t expect to be taking flight down the chairs on my way out, but cheers to the steward who tried to protect me. Another thing, when did we start fighting with our own fans? I’m not sure where the idiots have suddenly come from, but kindly leave. We’ve enough problems on the pitch, let alone off it.
Kerry can be found on Twitter here
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