Then and Now At Villa (9)
Having been stung by an almost obligatory opposition goal in the first few minutes, Villa stormed back against Norwich to lead 4-1 at the break. Great! But then the game morphed into Villa's usual stagnancy, coupled with hoof-football. No further goals materialised and only one attempt on goal from each side in the second half.
The managament will no doubt be happy that 3 points were obtained (and, yes, I am sure we are happy with that side of things too) but to go down to Villa Park on a wintry night is partly in the feint hope of being entertained I would have thought. These days, it's rare that we see a fair return on the ticket outlay but I suppose we have to be thankful for small mercies.
Nevertheless, I am left thinking that to be 4-1 up at the half-way stage must have put the players into a frame of mind that should have seen them set about their opponents to finish the job and rapidly improve on the season's goal difference. It was not that Norwich had much to offer in the second half except a bit more fight. But that sweeping end-to-end move that brought off Villa's third goal should have set the pattern for the night's play. It proved that Villa can play thoughtful yet swift football - so why play anything else?
There was a time when a Villa team winning 4-1 at the break would go on and considerably improve on the scoreline. I recall two outstanding examples, one as recent as season 1994-95 when Villa obtained their record score in the Premier League. A 7-1 victory was obtained over Wimbledon, a side that (until that day) had hitherto consistently been a thorn in Villa's side. Tommy Johnson (3) and Dean Saunders (2) were the Crazy Gang's main tormentors, and Dwight Yorke also contributed one.
But the 4-1 half-time scoreline that really led Villa's fans into a jig was on a November day in season 1959-60 when Charlton Athletic came to Villa Park. By half-time, Gerry Hitchens had bagged a hat-trick and later, when scoring his fifth, the shot was so powerful that it broke the keeper's finger when he attempted to stop it. All Villa's five forwards scored that day, with Peter McParland wrapping up the scoring with two magnificent goals late-on to end the scoring at 11-1. And Villa's fans even got a bonus: Villa won each of their next two matches 5-0, making 21 goals scored in 3 matches.
That, I am sure you will agree, was entertainment!
Up the Villa!
For more history and stats , why not visit John's history site: www.lerwill-life.org.uk/astonvilla/. Further, why not enjoy an in-depth read of Villa's history? Click here for more info.