Then and Now At Villa (3)
After too many years of possessing relatively lightweight cannon, we now seem to have big guns!
Another aspect of Benteke's play is that he's not afraid of putting himself about. This can be dangerous on two fronts - the referee's wrath, and also injury - but this characteristic was one possessed by many of Villa's great centre-forwards of long ago. With devastating results!
We can recall in recent decades the daring-do of one Andy Gray and one Peter Withe, both of whom were strong and did not flinch from going in where it hurt. Dion Dublin was of the same category but in his case he nearly died as a result of his efforts. He was never quite the same player after that frightening injury.
'Arry 'Ampton (1904-1920) was probably the first of Villa's main strikers to be of concern to the referee in the way he ('Arry) would go about his challenges. 'Arry had a particular penchant for goalkeepers and scored a number of goals by bundling 'em into the net in the days when such a thing was legal, provided the keeper had his feet on the ground. The opposing centre-half was often given a few bruises, too, and there was the famous case of 'Arry and his marker in frequent conflict during the 1913 Cup Final. As a result, both were suspended for the opening of the following season. 'Arry was hated by the opposing fans but loved at Villa Park! He still holds the club record for the number of league goals scored during a career (215).
Succeeding strikers of the strongly combative type include the famed 'Pongo' Waring (1928-1935) who scored a remarkable 50 goals in season 1930-31 - still a club record for one season. His on-the-field temperament is the reason given for his not acquiring more England 'caps'.
The oldest Villa supporters can remember Trevor Ford (1946-1950), whose penchant for 'keepers was similar to 'Arry's, and Peter McParland (1952-1962) who had the serious collision with the keeper in the 1957 Cup Final when keepers still had a tough time. Today they are nearly always protected from harm. Tony Hateley (1963-67) did not flinch too much either, and we also had Andy Lochhead and Sammy Morgan during the lower division days of 1970 to 1975, who did their best to uphold the club's physical tradition in that department.
So in these few words I have summed up the great physical strikers that have been seen at Villa Park. With few exceptions, when Villa has possessed such strikers then Villa has achieved success. And now we have the potential of a lot more fireworks!
Up the Villa!
For more history and stats , why not visit John's history site: www.lerwill-life.org.uk/astonvilla/. The site has been extensively updated during this summer. Further, why not enjoy an in-depth read of Villa's history? Click here for more info.