Aston Villa

Aston Villa ProgDate: Thursday 21st May 2009 7.00pm
Ground: Villa Park
Match: Aston Villa Reserves 3 Sunderland Reserves 1 HT: 1-1 ATT: 5,337
Comp: Premier Reserve League North/South Play-off Final
Additional: Entrance FREE, Programme £1 Chips £2 Coffee/Tea £1.20

Villa Park in pictures

———————————————————————————————————————-
I’d wanted to do Villa Park for years. Every FA Cup draw for the last decade I have prayed for Brighton to be away at Villa. The ground is a world famous venue, considered by some to be one of Archibald Leitch’s best works. It is 112 years old, the first ground to stage Internationals in three centuries and the most used FA Cup semi-final venue. Being so steeped in football history it was a ground I had to go to sooner or later. It was also by far the closest of the 15 grounds I had left to do of the 92.
I’d looked into going earlier this season but the ticket price of £35 was prohibitively expensive and the tickets also seemed hard to come by, despite Villa not attracting capacity crowds too often.  As the season was drawing to a close, I stumbled upon a message on Tony’s non-league forum saying that the Premier Reserve League play off final was free on Thursday 21st May. It was the opportunity I was looking for.
The fixture was Aston Villa v Sunderland. These two were the winners of the Premier Reserve League South and North respectively and this was the play-off to decide the ultimate Premier Reserve Champions. The final league tables were as follows.

Premier Reserve League North

Pos

Club

Pld

W

D

L

F

A

GD

Pts

1

Sunderland Reserves (C)

20

13

4

3

33

13

+20

43

2

Manchester United Reserves

20

10

6

4

35

19

+16

36

3

Blackburn Rovers Reserves

20

9

6

5

30

19

+11

33

4

Newcastle United Reserves

20

9

5

6

34

30

4

32

5

Manchester City Reserves

20

10

0

10

32

29

+3

30

6

Wigan Athletic Reserves

20

8

3

10

25

36

−11

24

7

Liverpool Reserves

20

5

7

8

26

26

0

22

8

Everton Reserves

20

5

7

8

19

25

−6

22

9

Hull City Reserves

20

6

4

9

22

36

−14

22

10

Middlesbrough Reserves

20

6

3

11

26

33

−7

21

11

Bolton Wanderers Reserves

20

6

3

11

22

38

−16

21

Premier Reserve League South

Pos

Club

Pld

W

D

L

F

A

GD

Pts

1

Aston Villa Reserves (C)

16

11

3

2

29

13

+16

36

2

Tottenham Hotspur Reserves

16

10

1

5

26

19

+7

31

3

Fulham Reserves

16

7

5

4

28

20

+8

26

4

Portsmouth Reserves

16

8

1

7

18

25

−7

25

5

West Ham United Reserves

16

7

1

8

19

26

−7

22

6

Arsenal Reserves

16

5

3

7

17

22

−5

19

7

Chelsea Reserves

16

5

3

8

28

26

+2

18

8

Stoke City Reserves

16

4

2

10

18

23

−5

14

9

West Bromwich Albion Reserves

16

4

2

10

20

29

−9

14

 Villa Park is easy to get to by car but something of a problem when it comes to parking near the ground. Villa Park is very close to junction 6 of the M6, but even for a game that had an eighth of the normal crowd parking near the ground was quite stressful, with no residential parking allowed for match days. I ended up paying some gnarly, sotted but charming blokes £5 for parking on a business forecourt. It could’ve been a dodgy scam but as entrance was free I was happy to pay it. This is the advantage of driving an old banger; you’re safe in the knowledge that no discerning joy-rider will steel it – or any other form of thief, for that matter. This was opposite The Holte pub, which was about a three minute walk to the Trinity Road Stand

Villa Park

I was running a little late having underestimated the M6 traffic and got in a few minutes in to the game. Going by train is probably the less stressful option, changing at Birmingham New Street for Witton which is right next to the ground.

Villa Park May 2009 024
The match was better than I expected, the youngsters playing some excellent one touch football, which was for the most part almost non contact. It was such a nice change to see no fouling or diving or rolling around. The youngsters seem to have a much better attitude than their seniors in the Premier League proper. As such there was no injury time.

Villa Park with only 5,337 in was a tad eerie. It was good to see the world famous architecture, the Leitch stands and the famous Holte end but being mostly empty didn’t feel quite right. Better this than £35 when full, I feel.

Villa Park May 2009 003
They opened up two stands for the game. The Trinity Road Stand, the three tiered side stand and the Holte End. The stewards let me switch stands at half time in order to get a shot of the Trinity Road Stand, which I was sat in in the first half.

Villa Park May 2009 011
Villa Reserves deserved their win, with particularly good performances from Nathan Delfouneso and Marc Albrighton – names to watch out for in the future.

The nearest ground out of the 92 now is Hereford’s Edgar Street at more than 100 miles. It was good to get Villa Park, albeit an empty one; I feel like I’ve got one over on the Premier League.

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About thegroundhog

I live underground, occasionally popping up at non league grounds. I live on a diet of insects small rodents 0-0s and post and pre match angst.
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