Gentlemen, the arms-race has begun.
By Steve Wade
I was so happy last week, at Villa getting a very decent away win at Everton, that I inadvertently stepped through a worm-hole and found myself walking in my father’s shoes. By the time the result came through I was more or less settled for a cosy night in and as the weather forecast predicted heavy rain, a nice night in front of the telly listening to the rain rattle the windows, as the beer flowed and the nosh was munched, seemed like a very attractive proposition. But there was something wrong – just as the rain started to play rat-tat-tat on the glass and the passing tyres took on an ominous watery slushing sound, I suddenly remembered that I had the wrong sort of beer, to celebrate a Villa victory.
What is life without ceremony? Things need to be celebrated, as they always are in the best adventure stories, and so I decided a little while ago that when Villa won, special beer was required. So I put on my best anorak, of which I have a few, naturally, and stepped out into the sideways rain, with a Sainsbury’s shopping-bag (a bag for life, like a dog is for life) full of empties (to take to the bottle-bank) and to bring back the special beer from the off-licence. Suddenly as the rain stung my eyes and my trousers were inundated, I had that unavoidable feeling that I was my own father back in the Sixties on his way to the beer-shop in Shady Lane, for a couple of Nut Brown’s, a bottle of pop for us kids and some of those crisps with the salt tied in a blue twist of paper. Magic, I tell you……magic.
As I made my way back with my bottles of Leffe brown but sadly no Argus, I almost expected Dixon Of Dock Green to be on the telly or Cathy Kirby, with her glistening strawberry lips – the sexy cow – but alas no, and no corned-beef and salad sandwiches either but even soaked through, old and not young, my Villa happiness was still intact. I was just totally chuffed and rained on or not the sense that the old Villa dystopia was actually over, just warmed the cockles of my little claret and blue heart.
It seems such an unlikely result, as Everton seemed the sort of team to crush Villa’s young side, with their muscular, spitting and snarling style of play – and Villa had several key players missing and were virtually unrecognisable from the settled side which produced O’Neill’s early run. Ollie out of position and the central pair, having a combined age less than thirty, while forty-fiver year-old Sutton brought up the average age of the team to twelve. From Mercer’s minors to Marty’s minors in a single imaginative bound was just too delicious to ignore and I was as happy as Larry (Canning) and the reports were all positive.
There was a cosy simple beauty about the fact that the youngster Ozzie combined with Oldster Sutton for the goal and what a lovely subtle, delicate little thing it was, from the teasing feather-light chip from the right boot of Villa’s own babby, to the deft flick from the old man’s head (Andy Lochead even), it was just the perfect sort of goal to win such a game of endeavour, sinew and effort, and it lit up the my Villa night like a beacon of hope, on what had been the cliff of despair…(sorry getting a bit carried away). So the beer was drunk, the curry ordered, delivered and consumed with flushed gusto, and the MoTD rolled with satisfaction as the beer put a bit of slack in my sinews – a blissful Villa night, celebrated with as much style as I can manage to muster these days.
Martin O’Neill and Randy Lerner I thank you!
For those Villan’s I met during the ensuing week, it seemed to be equally satisfying and some I have to admit, are actually getting carried away, with things looking rather more worthy of their optimism than not so long ago. It seems that technology is coming to bear on the business of being an absolute, dyed in the wool, Villa nutter of the first water, as I found out on Tuesday, when a raucous greeting of something like. ‘ How you gooing you big twat?’, (this sort of thing passes for wit where I come from), announced the presence of the sort of Villa nutter who is actually a bit scary. As ever, when Villan’s meet, we both spoke at once and no one really wanted to listen to the other, in a Pinteresque sort of way – frustration and violent talk can ensue from the two parties, when each is looking for catharsis and is not finding it, but on this happy occasion, there was no boil needing lancing by either party and although passers-by might have saw it as verging on a breach of the peace, what with violent language and threatening back-slapping, the meeting and greeting went off relatively peaceably. Anyway, once the gruntings, which pass for civilized intercourse were over, my Villa friend did nothing but astound me, as he proceeded to produce his phone, which had a screen only slightly smaller than the one I used to watch PC Dixon on all those years ago, and to my total gob-smackedness had, stored on some card the size of Mr Creosote’s last mint (waffer-thin) a goodly selection of Villa goals, from the European Cup-winner to Sutton’s recent deft delight. The bar had suddenly been lifted, when it comes to defining a Villa nutter, courtesy of Sony-Eriksson, and didn’t I laugh. I just couldn’t help but chuckle, at the very idea, of offering video evidence to win a football argument down the pub.
Forget the Argus, this brings football insanity, into the 21st century……but the potential for boring the innocent cannot be ignored……….yeah!
Gentlemen, the arms-race has begun.