Thoughts and issues regarding the past and present of a great football club by "The Chronicler".

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Game Is Over

In 2006 - 10 years ago this year - a Knight-Errant seemed to have arrived on his white charger from across the seas. Who he was no-one questioned too much as the Villans inherently believed that he must be better than the previous encumbant.

But the former Maryland Bank North America owner merely wanted to play a game. His own game - of third-dimensional chess.

Amidst all the euphoria whilst he spent on infrastructure - and players, it has to be said - the new King appeared to convey trust in his two Bishops (Faulkner and O'Neill) and his Knights Templar strutted the upper echelons for awhile. But somewhere - was it just because of the loss of his Queen? - the King thought himself in danger of checkmate. 

The King's plans for the re-building of his Castle were folded up and put away, ignoring the possibility that the foundations of the fortifications might be in danger of crumbling. After all, if the Castle was to start collapsing the King could always retreat to the safety of his home country. And he did, to play out his third-dimensional game.

The situation today can be summed up in this one observation by Thierry Henry: "I've played at Villa Park obviously, and it was always a fight. They always had that fight in them, that's the spirit of the club. Now, they just don't have it." 

The games being played have (with rare exceptions) provided little entertainment faire and lack of character for so long that the fans have mainly forgotten what it was like in the days of O'Neill. But even in those days many of the fans were not completely happy (though less disgruntled than they were under Doug) but what has happened since has been a shock to the sensibilities of the loyal followers of this club, many of whom have inherited their loyalty from their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, and the glories of the 1976-82 years.

In the last season of serious consequences (1966-67) the Villa - despite labouring under the mismanagement of those times - played with pride right up until the last few games. I remember clearly a home game against Spurs, at the time when they had some wonderful players on view, when Villa were 3-0 up after 30 minutes (including a cracker from Chatterley that I still vividly remember), but had played their hearts out to such an extent that they wilted and eventually drew, 3-3.

And 2 or 3 years earlier, it is almost impossible to believe that a young Bobby Park (all eagerness but not too much skill) went off with a broken collar bone yet insisted on returning to the fray wrapped up in a sling in the days before substitutions. 

Or the days of Bruce Rioch, a richly talented player who stayed with Villa through their third tier days and only left when Villa did not progress quickly enough. Once, when his absence through injury was acutely felt, you knew when he came onto the field as a substitute he would get Villa out of a hole. And he did.

These are memories about character. Where do you find such commitment and heroes today? It's only the stuff of history books.

At the beginning of March, 2016, this once great club has conceded 11 goals in three successive matches with title-chasing Man City and Spurs as their next two games. Effectively, Villa's season is already over and yet we have to endure the possibility of greater humiliations. Villa's prospects look bleak and never before has a season finished in such disarray.

Despite heavy defeats, it was never as bad in 1936 (their first ever relegation), certainly not in 1959 nor even in 1967 or 1987. In the last two of those relegation years you felt some fear, but action was quickly taken to reverse the slide, even though full recovery took time. 

What will happen after this season?


CarlosOlivera said...

Muy bonito el blog informativo. El conocimiento que está proporcionando es realmente muy útil para mí y es muy útil para los principiantes también.

Llogar casa a Costa Brava

John Lerwill said...

Muchos gracias, Carlos!

SimonFox said...

I agree with your point of view of this article. This is a good article. Very timely given us so much useful information. Thank you!

Villa with pool Costa Brava

MarkDonald said...

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Villa Barcelone

John Lerwill said...

SimonFox and MarkDonald:

Your comments are greatly appreciated.

These are very sad times indeed but we can only hope that recovery can be achieved.

Sunder Bisht said...

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