hybridvilla’s first taste of claret and blue:
The day was finally here, almost a month after my 8th birthday, my main present had finally arrived. It was early on Saturday 19th September 1992, and I was to go to watch Villa play Liverpool. Even though this was to be a day full of emotion and enjoyment I can now only recall certain details vividly with the majority being lost in my memory. This was no ordinary match, not only was I to spend the day with the Villa Lions club, it was my first ever time watching a professional football game.
So all dressed up in my new Villa kit, I set off for the Aston Villa Sports and Leisure Centre with a 4 of my friends for a mornings training to be taken by past villa players one of whom was Ron Wylie. After being separated into age groups the training began, this is where things get hazy in my memory until the it was time to get on the coaches bound for Villa Park. Lined up against the wall in the AV leisure centre, the tickets where handed out, the sheer excitement of holding my first ever villa ticket is still palpable to this day.
After the short journey to Villa Park and departing the coaches, the enormity of the ground hit me, seeing the crest and ASTON VILLA emblazoned across the Trinity Road Stand. It was then round to the North Stand entrance. This was when disaster struck. After going through the turnstiles the throng of people the other side caused me to become separated from my friends and the entire Villa Lions group. In the realisation that I was surrounded by thousands of people twice the size of me, in a place I had never been before, what should have been a one of the happiest days of my life began to fall apart and I panicked. In the comparatively cold and dark innards of the North Stand I wandered with tears in my eyes wondering what I would do.
When out of nowhere a man in a luminous jacket came over and asked me what was wrong, the steward looked at my ticket and said he would help me find my seat. After the walk up the seemingly endless stairs (to an 8 year old) to it opened out to the North Stand concourse, the smell of beer and pies and not to mention cigarette smoke hit my lungs. The noise of the hustle and bustle was almost deafening. Then it was time to walk out onto the stand itself. This memory is still clear as day to me, one of the most iconic moments of my life. As the dark of the inside of the stand yawned open to the inside of Villa Park I felt my heart skip a beat and lump in my throat form as I laid eyes on the turf for the very first time.
The greenest pitch I had ever seen, the warm sun beating down on it, that unmistaken feeling of excitement and electricity that only Villa Park can create. The looming size of Villa Park from the outside, was now bested by the sheer magnitude of the inside. The swarming mass of the terraces in the Holte End opposite us. The steward found my seat, I had beaten all my friends up to my seat, he waited with me until the rest of the party arrived. It was now a matter of waiting till kick-off. When it was time the roar from the ground was thrilling and scary all at once.
The game went on as I drunk up the atmosphere and football. Dean Saunders scoring twice against his former club on his debut for the villa becoming an instant villa hero was surely the highlight. After a scintillating 4-2 victory I met my dad who had watched the game from the Holte End and went home very happy. This day made me an even stronger and more ardent supporter of Aston Villa, spending the next few years standing on a crate in the Holte End cheering on my beloved Villa. Watching the likes of Villa beat Inter Milan on penalties from the semi-rebuilt Holte End and many more memorable days.
But, I still get that feeling of walking out of the dark stand into the light every time I visit Villa Park, nothing else can recreate that, but it will never be as strong or as evocative as my first trip to Villa Park.
AVFC Stories – 1st Taste Of Claret & Blue