By Kris Woodward
Poetic justice isn’t something that often occurs in football, the Second City derby however was a fine example of how good it is when it does. St Andrews is always a hostile environment and has potentially the most fierce local rivalry in English football.
Unfortunately, there was one ‘fan’ who took the rivalry a step too far, running onto the pitch to assault Villa’s new captain, Jack Grealish. This was a pathetic act and one that has no place in football.
As Dean Smith alluded to in his post-match press conference, ‘banter’ is a part of football and rivalry between teams is something fans thrive off.
Due to the location of both teams, it wouldn’t be a stretch to the imagination that many, if not the majority of Villa fans will have a friend who is a Birmingham City fan.
The act has been condemned by all in football with Aston Villa, Birmingham City and the EFL issuing statements. He has now received a life time ban from St Andrews, a 10-year ban from all football grounds and a 14-week prison sentence (Winson Green will be no picnic for the Bluenose).
This wasn’t the only incident to take place during the game. A camera picked up a steward also getting in on the action against Grealish. During the team’s celebration of Jack’s goal, a steward was seen attempting to kick him in the back. Much to the horror on Hourihane’s face, once again Grealish’s personal bodyguard.
Again the steward was escorted out by the police and will undoubtedly be dismissed.
Also there was the racist behaviour towards Tammy Abraham too, by a Blues fan.
The question now remains will Birmingham City be punished, as a club, be punished for all of the above?
They were swift to issue a response to the incident and despite the attacker only being given a 10-year ban, the club have taken it on themselves to ban him from St Andrews for life.Embed from Getty Images
Whilst a club can’t anticipate one idiot’s moment of madness, it can’t be ignored that the fan was chased by just one steward. If it wasn’t for the swift action of the rest of the Villa players, the situation could have been far worse.
Ex-Villains Dion Dublin and Paul Merson, whilst talking on Sky Sports’ The Debate, acknowledged the issue. They questioned whether this was a football-wide problem rather than just this particular game.
They mentioned the capability of stewards based on age and ability to actually stop an intruder. The average pay for a steward in this country is £7.74, is this enough of an incentive to put themselves in danger? Especially, if they are a third-party stewards
Whether this is a national issue or specific to this fixture, as mentioned in a recent MOMS podcast, Birmingham City vs Aston Villa at St Andrews always seems to throw up an off-field incident.
The fixture next season (assuming we’re both in the same league), will no doubt receive even more media coverage and hopefully precautions to protect Villa players and fans will be taken.
The City is Ours
Whilst the behaviour of the Birmingham City fans will be the real talking points, Aston Villa fans should be rejoicing at another excellent performance.
This game was by no means a simple game for Villa. Aston Villa had not beaten Birmingham at St Andrews since being relegated to the Championship.
It was a rare occasion that Birmingham City sat a few places ahead of Villa in the table prior to kick off.
Grealish again proved to be the difference, turning in a superb finish on the 67th minute.
It was the performance of Kortney Hause and Tyrone Mings that caught the attention of fans on social media though. Their forced partnership kept Birmingham City at bay for the 90 minutes despite some hairy moments at the end.
Do we dare dream of the play-offs?
That result lifted Villa above Birmingham City into 10th. With ten games remaining, Villa are four points off Bristol City in 6th.
Mathematically it’s achievable, especially considering we still have to play: Nottingham Forrest (8th), Bristol City (6th) and Middlesbrough (5th).
Whilst many fans had previously conceded that the play-offs were out of sight for Villa, the result against Blues will have sparked some hope, but mainly it has made the fixture against Forest even more important.
As mentioned in a recent MOMS podcast, for Villa to even consider the play-offs, we really need three points from the City Ground.