Doctor Johnson wrote something along the lines of: “A man who tires of London, tires of life.” It holds up. But had he replaced London withVilla Park it would be Grade A bunkum. Because, I have to say, after almost 30 years of watching the Arsenal at the home of Aston Villa, I have tired of life…well, Villa Park, anyway.
Time was you would be housed in the end opposite the Holte, upper tier, thank you very much -f ond memories of Tony Woodcock’s hat-trick in the 6-1 a lifetime ago. No jumped-up stewards bleating about sitting down. Half-time pint, squire? Sure thing: avail yourself of liquid refreshment containing alcohol at our bars: they are plentifully stocked.
Villa soon cottoned on (and fair play to them) that affording visiting supporters such a lofty perch with superb views was perhaps being too hospitable, and so we were sent to the lower tier. The view was worse but bearable and at least you could still fight your way through the crush in the corner to point Percy at the porcelain, grab a pie and sneak a pint, too.
Yes, there was the odd foray into the Holte End for semi-finals and we even got to sit in what is now called the Trinity Road Stand for that ‘final’ against Manchester United – sorry, the name escapes me (Mercantile Credit?). And then there was the time we invaded the place and had the end and the side, now called the Doug Ellis Stand. Must have been upwards of 12,000 Arsenal there at least for that League Cup clash.
Now, though, it’s all so different. We are in the corner and while the view ain’t so bad, the facilities are shocking. Oh, and there is no booze for away fans. Why is that? Can Villa followers quench their thirst at the Emirates? Pretty sure they can. Upstairs is a joke in terms of space – if you had a cat in there, I assure you, you couldn’t swing it.
Don’t get me wrong VP is a decent ground, just not for away fans. BTW, if you ever get the chance to go in the huge social club under the Holte End do so – it is massive.
Back to my gripes and before we even get to the ground we are sent a missive from Ivan Gazidis who has been leant on by Villa and Brum City Council to warn us that if we stand persistently we will have our ticket allocation reduced for further fixtures. Cue even more empty seats than usual.
The letter to Gooners from Gazidis asks fans:
*Retain your ticket
*Only occup seat allocated to you
*Keep gangways clear
*Do not persistantly stand throughout the match.
While I will be adhering to these rules, I still believe an element will stand up. And if the ticket allocation is reduced, pound ot a penny Arsenal fans will snap up home tickets next season. Cue even more problems.
Furthermore, what is it about stewards? Why do honest, decent and friendly people become indignant, power-crazed head cases for two hours on a Saturday afternoon or whenever the bloody game is played these days?
Anyway, having said all that I’ve got to dash as my lift is arriving any minute now.
I am looking forward to Mr Frimpong’s attitude should he be chosen to replace Mr Song by AW…
PS: Remember, obey stewards at all times, do not pass go, do not collect a stern warning.