[quote_center]”I’ll never forget this dad” – Eight-year-old Villan[/quote_center]
By Wesley Woakes
My eight-year-old son and I were at the Albion FA Cup game at the weekend and in my 30 years of watching Villa, the amazing atmosphere at Villa Park on Saturday, has probably only been matched a couple of times in my experience, so I can’t begin to imagine what my son was thinking.
When the final whistle blew, I thought it was tradition for such a victory (in this case a trip to Wembley), that everyone celebrated with their heroes on the pitch. I’ve seen it before at Villa Park and many other football grounds, and I have always believed it was part of the game.
That is until I got home and switched on the TV to relive the great occasion. Reacting to Villa fans on the pitch, BBC Sport’s Mark Lawrenson said on Match Of The Day Live: “It’s like a scene from the 1980s all over again. Absolutely ridiculous.” Such comments were then later replicated by the media in print, which we’ve all read: “disgraceful scenes”, “return to the dark ages” etc.
I was shocked but not surprised, the media bias and objectification has been happening for as long as I can remember, but what did shock and surprise me was the amount of regular fans on social media berating Villa supporters, the same people I see week-in week-out liking posts such as “against modern football,” “give football back to the fans” and the like.
Well ladies and gentleman, this is exactly what those campaigns are standing for, the old traditions and to me, this is one of them. I do not condone entering the field of play during the game, nor did 99% of the crowd, as you could hear the jeers a mile off, when a bunch of fans mistakenly thought it was a final whistle and caused a chain reaction of other fans spilling onto the pitch. Their judgement wasn’t helped by the excitement of the occasion nor the fact that the 5.30pm kick-off had allowed them to get a few extra drinks in.
But after the final whistle, when lower league fans run onto the pitch, it’s the ‘magic of the cup’. When Villa fans do it, it’s evil ‘hooliganism’.
In a crowd of 40,000, you’ll always get the odd idiot who takes It too far, but 99% of what happened at Villa Park was good natured and fans just wanted a moment on the pitch where their claret and blue heroes play.
I’ve yet to see any report of any serious injury caused by a ‘pitch invader’. Even the person who nabbed Delph’s captain’s armband, returned it to the Villa captain. From the video evidence so far, the most aggressive actions on the pitch came from a couple of WBA players towards Villa fans.
So lastly, I’ll explain why I took my son on the pitch…
Any of you with young children will know how hard it is to get them to follow their local team. I’ve seen it with my son, when taking him football training and all the kids are there in their Barca, Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United & City tops. Brought for them by parents who have given up the fight.
Well Saturday night at Villa Park was a moment my son himself said to me, “I’ll never forget this dad”. This comes from a boy whose pretty much only interest before last night was playing wrestling on the Xbox. Now he’s buzzing with excitement for not only Wembley, but for Aston Villa, which means more to me than any media or any other fans opinion of the claret and blue faithful.
If you felt insulted as a Villa fan by the BBC coverage’s ‘idiots’ and ‘hooligan’ spin of our what was a good-natured and joyous occasion, drop them a line like other MOMS readers have already done. We need to change attitudes, so please help be part of that process. Use their online complaints form. Select ‘television’, then ‘BBC 1’, then ‘Aston Villa vs West Brom FA Cup MOTD Live’. Then speak your mind!
Recommended reading on the irresponsible media coverage of Villa Park events
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