Something For The Weekend (208)
It might be a generally accepted truth that things get worse and that the good days get fewer, as you get older, but last Saturday, came as near to perfection, as I have known for a long time. The weather was perfect and although God's herbage was reminiscent of the time-ravaged charms of a once beautiful woman, it was still something to behold. And by the time big John Carew had scored his cheeky goal to take Villa third (yep, that's right - third) in the Premiership, I felt this old carcass of mine fill with a warm glow, and there was no doubt about it, it was a beautiful day, and I fell into a delicious state of smug reverie, which even de Quincey might have struggled to match.
And as the evening wore on (yes Elwood it is a beautiful expression), that feeling seemed to grow deeper and even my offerings, at the alter to fine days, from the offy, tasted less metallic than usual, and I drifted on a magic carpet of satisfaction, at knowing that happiness was still possible, even for scrotes like me, and that the blessings of the gentle pleasures, do not exhaust the endorphins, the curse of opium-eater, while adding everything and taking nothing away. No cold turkey for this old man.
Only the act of love could suitably finish off the day, and luckily my girlfriend was ready, willing and available, once I'd remembered where I'd left her.
Tim Minchin, knows the score:
Okay, so Villa's third-place depended upon a rather freakish win by Hull at Arsenal but to tell you the truth, even Villa finishing the day fourth, would have subtracted very little from my high, as really, it was all about Villa's palpable progress and was not dependent on the braggartly crowing of the table, although that was very nice - it ran deeper than that. There was something about the routine unspectacular (although Ashley's goal was very spectacular) nature of the win that I found so encouraging, which seemed to suggest a more disciplined scientific approach, than, say, Man City's routing of Portsmouth, the other week.
It was so routine and so expected that it gave Match of The Day, the perfect excuse, (not like they need them) to entirely ignore it and Villa were allowed to shuffle in under the radar, to occupy a very tasty
position, without too many invitations to hubris or distracting ballyhoo, from those oily characters from the media. But just to make sure we never forget our place, Young's fine free-kick, was reduced to a piece of bad defending by Sunderland, by reporters, just in case, there might be a Villa fan somewhere, who might start thinking that his club might ever be more fashionable, than Noddy Holder's wardrobe.
But there's a lot to be said for being out of fashion and when I saw Hull's Ian Ashbee being interviewed after their shock win at the Emirates, I thought it must have been a good day for all Brummies, even though, I suspect Ian is probably a blue nose. Of course there was another Villa connection at Hull in there American goalkeeper, Boaz (Glyn Oliver) Myhill who, as far as I can work out, enjoys the dubious distinction of having never made a single appearance, despite joining the claret and blue ranks at the tender age of twelve. But his tale is worth telling because the way he puts it, his career took the sort of turn Ace Rimmer's did (see Red Dwarf) and that he needed to go down to the fourth division to kick-start his career and become the Hull legend he is today. His growth as a player has exactly followed Hull's miraculous rise through the divisions to the Premiership. Its a fantastically inspirational story and it should surely equip him well, should he want to move into motivational speaking when he retires. Sometimes someone has to fail first before they can succeed - some of us are still waiting.
Ian Ashbee's similarly long career at Hull, has been mostly about taking stick from the fans, so his interview as the triumphant Tigers' captain must mark an all-time high, for him, the big brummie galloot.
Make no mistake about it, it was a good day for Brummies.
Villa's passage into the knock-out stage of the UEFA cup, on Thursday, might have been a formality but it was a real god-send. As Everton found out, such a progression is not always such a trivial hurdle to get over, even when you play well, which Everton did, and for those still smarting from losing to QPR, it came as a mighty relief, that Villa made it through unscathed. Even so, I couldn't help noticing that there are some better teams than Litex Lovech, waiting for Villa in the next stage and O'Neill might have to dispense with the luxury of resting his top players, if Villa are to make an impression on teams of greater pedigree than the Bulgarians or Icelandics. With three months to go before the transfer-window opens, O'Neil's talent for husbanding his resources, looks to be crucial, if Villa are to continue their campaign on several fronts.
And now for Chelsea.
This is a very tasty prospect and with Villa's present good form, its really hard to make the call. Both sides are not over-endowed with forwards and so it very much looks like it will be a game where two midfields vie for supremacy - Cole, Deco and Lampard, against Barry, Petrov and Young. These actually look evenly matched on paper, although Chelsea might just have the edge. Up front it looks like Carew will have a trial of strength with Terry, while the Villa's defence must contain Anelka's movement. Boswinga will certainly provide a real test for the Villa backs. It seems likely that home advantage will be enough to give Chelsea the points, and to expect Villa to do what Man United failed to achieve, looks like a very big ask. But with Villa on top form and playing with the sort of discipline and spirit, which should take them far, a Desmond (2-2) or an Attila (2-1 win), looks like a reasonable thing to hope for.
And Gabby must score.
In the meantime, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, has received an offer of £400m for the club, from a Nigerian syndicate. Now all he has to do, is answer the email and enclose his bank details and an up-front payment for a million Naira, to complete the deal.
Now that would be a perfect day.