Aston Villa away days trip to the Boleyn Ground
The blistering winds and bitter temperatures certainly set a different scene for this year’s trip to Upton Park when compared to the heat wave scorcher that provided the opening fixture of last season. However, as usual, the Villa faithful were undeterred, another sell out away visit, another rammed pub and high hopes of three points.
The Central pub welcomes both sets of fans, meaning whilst we were segregated, it’s easy enough to indulge in a little pre-match banter. Spirits were high, and as the beer slipped down, the fans entertained themselves with a song or two. Rather amusingly so, one chorus from Hammer’s fans of “chim chim chriee, chim chim chiroo, we are those b**tards in claret and blue”, saw Villa fans ironically join in; you’d be forgiven for thinking the pub was completely full of Villa fans. In fact as I snuck over to the other side of the bar (easier to get served as a homebody), I amusingly heard one of the Irons proclaim, ‘Them lot are a noisy bunch, we’re shut them up later’.
Marching (being blown down) Barking Road just after half two, the news of Sylla starting, meant an onslaught of ‘Sylla, Sylla, he loves the f**king Villa, the Villa’, pretty much continuously from pub to ground.
Upon entering the ground, I immediately remembered why I disliked it so much. I’m not sure about the home stands but the away fans conditions are truly awful. I’d go as far as saying they’re even a health & safety issue. I did have to smirk at the one of the stewards who proclaimed ‘there’s too many Villa fans in here’. Erm…I’m pretty sure you sold each of us a ticket.
Things turned from bad to worse as the minute’s silence in honour of our fallen heroes began. Now, I’m not sure if the stewards just didn’t deem it necessary to inform those still inside of what was happening, or whether some people really are vile enough not to respect it, but chanting, singing, even shouting at others to ‘shut the f**k up’ is completely out-of-order. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one stood, red-faced cringing at the racket behind us. Next time stay at home.
Kick off…. zzzzz. Half time.
The Villa away support is usually hard to fault, always lively, always in full voice and always game for a wind up. However even we seemed a little dejected at the poor quality of football playing out before us. It was for this reason I feel we never really got going, a verse of ‘Paul Lambert’s Claret & Blue Army, and a round or two of the ever so cringey ‘We don’t care about West Ham… All I care about is AVFC’ summarised the first half.
Sometimes singing ‘bla bla’s a s**t hole, I wanna go home’ is a little harsh, but in this case, it couldn’t have been truer. Trying really hard not to just fill this post with moaning (the twitterati will have my head), but I know a lot of people were unhappy at the lack of facilities/crushing/bar shutters being bought down/unhelpfulness of the stewards. I expect West Ham will be issuing some sort of apology, as we asked them to do last year, shortly…
A renewed sense of optimism greeted the returning troops to the field for the second half; however this was short-lived, as we failed to make any real impact. Simply keeping hold of the ball seemed too much of an ask. Chants of ‘Woaaaaah, Christian Benteke’ cried out, mostly out of desperation, that we might just try and create something, push forward a little, utilise the gaping holes of space, but sadly not. Then out of no-where, in the midst of despair, Lowton wips the ball into the box onto to Benteke’s head, the fans are half-way in the air to celebrate… when it rebounds off the crossbar. The best chance of the game by a mile, but unfortunately he just couldn’t bury it.
Not one of my favourite away days to say the least, in fact, probably one to be swiftly forgotten. On the plus side, we did surrender all three points last season, so a point is definitely a bonus. But the frustration is growing, especially with our home form being so poor. Usually, pubs are still fairly lively post-match, however as with Hull, my crew were pretty much the only ones around.
Thumping Arsenal at the Emirates seems a long, long time ago. Roll on Cardiff, a goal or two would be nice, aye? I’ve almost forgotten how it feels. UTV.
* Are you an Aston Villa away supporter who was at the game? Tell us your experiences from the game in the comments below…
Picture by John Burton