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Aston Villa 2 - 1 Everton

Half-time: 1 - 1

Everton Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #33
3pm Saturday 14 April 2001
Villa Park, Birmingham
Att: 31,272
« Manchester City (h) Ref: Paul Taylor Liverpool (h) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 14th [ Results &  Table ]
Unsie - Wonder gaol! Everton's usually ponderous and disorganised start to this game gave Dion Dublin the chance to score inside 75 seconds, to put Everton on the back foot early on.  But on 15 minutes they came to life with a number of sweeping moves that each created promising chances.

Then, from a throw-in, the ball bounced toward Unsworth who acrobatically volleyed a fearsome drive past a startled David James and into the net off the angle of the woodwork a fantastic goal!  Unsie knew it, and sprinted 100 yards down the field to milk the praise of the massive travelling Everton contingent.

A spirited match from both sides ensued, with both sides have periods of pressure, but neither making the key breakthrough.... until Ginola came on and eventually sent in an excellent cross that Taylor headed in with no trouble, 10 mins before time.



Aston Villa: Dublin (2'), Taylor (81')
EVERTON: Unsworth (21')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
Aston Villa: James, Delaney, Wright, Southgate, Alpay, Taylor, Boateng, Hendrie (69' Ginola), Stone (62' Vassell), Merson, Dublin (79' Angel).  Barry,  Enckelman.
EVERTON: Gerrard; S Watson, Pistone, Weir, Unsworth (85' Moore); Ball, Gemmill, Pembridge, Gravesen (60' Nyarko), Alexandersson (70' Tal); Campbell. 
Cleland, Ferguson, Gascoigne, Gough, S Hughes, Jeffers, Naysmith, Xavier (injured); Myhre (on loan).  
Simonsen, Hibbert.
   Playing Strips  Formations
Aston Villa: Claret & blue shirts; claret shorts; blue socks. 4-4-2
EVERTON: Yellow shirts; blue shorts; yellow socks. 4-5-1
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
Aston Villa:
EVERTON: Gravesen (49'), Pistone (69'), Weir (83'), Ball (87')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats  


Mickey Blue Eyes Went the Day Unwell
Steve Bickerton Aimless, shapeless, and pointless
Rob Burns Gutless approach from Smith and Knox
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Ginola keeps Europe hopes alive
by Steve Thomson
THE SUNDAY TIMES Ginola's precision sets up Villa for late flourish
by Ron Clarke
THE TIMES Villa raise sights after recent run
by David McVay
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 Went the Day Unwell
Mickey Blue Eyes
There are some days when you figure you really ought to stay in bed.  This was one of them.  It started badly and then fell away.  Lifes a bitch then you play mediocre Villa in a mediocre match.  

Early morning, an incoming tide lashed inshore by a stiff wind; grey low scudding clouds; horizontal rain straight down the river; and wind with a chill factor to keep your Chablis available for days.  Oh yes, you want to climb back under the sheets.  Only some crazy tribal instinct propels you forward on auto-pilot. 

At times like this you ransack your commonsense for an explanation.  All you hear is the echo of your own voice diffused by the sound of splattering rain.  Foreboding looms and for once it didnt shake off.

The Bus was full but I couldnt get into the swing of things despite some early flippancy.  Maybe Earth was in conjunction with Uranus.  Speaking of anuses, will someone tell me why the people who travel on motorways in this country seem to think its a form of civic duty to discharge litter and other unmentionables all over the verges and central reservation?  Previously I used to try and calculate which stretch of motorway was the worst but having criss-crossed the nation many times over it is undeniable that nowhere is free of it.  Travelling by road is bad enough but that kind of muck creates nothing but the distinct impression of a country which has completely lost its personal and collective pride.  And when you mention it to a culprit all you get is empty eyes to go with the empty head.  Oh well....

I contacted Phil on the Indy Blues bus and got directions to, wait for it, Yorkshire Imperial Metals Social Club for a Meet.  Needless to say, after an awful journey behind steamed up windows, we went the wrong way after Tommy the driver elected to listen to the loud-mouthed arsehole sitting behind him.  Anuses were in fashion on the day. 

Eventually we made it, only it is now called the Kryptoch Club and the company is called IMI.  Well, they could have called it The Hawaiian Surfers Paradise Club and STILL it would have been complete excreta.  Turned out nobody had phoned ahead to warn them how many were coming.  The result was two bar staff in an empty bar trying to cope with a sudden influx of 250 thirsty Blue Bellies.  Try it sometime; itll do wonders for your humility.

Trying to lighten the atmosphere I said to the girl behind the bar, Only two of you on then? and she said, Yeh. Everyone else is away for Easter.  Trying to ease her burden I said ha-ha, Im gonna complain to the committee.  It didnt work.  Straight faced, she replied, Theyve gone away with everyone else.  It was like firing a bullet at a marshmallow goes right through and leaves no hole.  Oh well...

I doubled up on the round to save going back and retired for a chat with the lads.  At which point I found myself sharing a personal tragedy of one of the best Blue Bellies it is my pleasure to know.  It is the kind of thing which leaves you with a heavy weight in your chest for a long time.  Its still there....

The assembled Bellies watched the Mancs win the Championship for the umpteenth time on TV and dreamt of better things to come.  Which of course did not include the Villa match....

Villa Park is in a wretchedly run-down part of Brum, now further blighted if that were possible by the near-final destruction of the Brit motor industry.  Poor bastards havent seen the worst of it yet but they will; they will...

The stadium has been completely rebuilt and is in excellent condition.  There isnt the slightest doubt youre at one of the great homes of the game.  Sadly, though, for some reason, the corners of the ground are open and the Holte End corner of the new main stand is occupied by a blank-faced four-storey admin/executive structure.  The nearest corner of the Holte End is sharply angled toward the back of the upper tier and gives that end an imbalanced open look.  The new main stand is on three tiers and all the others on two tiers.

I was cheered by the news that we had a restored centre midfield pairing of Gemmill-Pembridge.  BIIIIIIIG mistake!  SuperKev was in his lonely furrow yet again, with Nic playing just behind him.  Everyone else was in the same place, wherever that is....

The game started.  A few Villa passes left-side into the Witton End where we were, then out to young Hendrie on their oblique left; a quick long cross; Taylor or Merson stepped over it and took most of the defence with him; it landed at Dublins feet and he stepped around Sandro and passed it low into the bottom left corner.  Oh WONDERFUL!  Nice defending, Sandro...

Merson, a real passing craftsman, drifted to the right wing and played about four or five metres inside the touchline for the next quarter hour and dictated play from there while our midfield did a Keystone Kops routine.  It was embarrassing and it was one-sided except for one Stevie Watson byline run on our right which only wanted a touch for an undeserved equaliser.  This got us going properly and then we got an equaliser five minutes later.

The Gravedigger delivered a long throw from near the right corner-flag and a Villa defender (Southgate) failed badly with a headed clearance.  It grazed the top of his head and shot backward across the box, back out toward the left side, where cometh a closing Beloved Lard Arse.  For a second I thought it was going to pass him.  Not so.  He leaned to his right and got a chest high left foot volley on it while falling and it went inside Calamitys left-hand post like Stinger missile on afterburn! 

No question our best goal of the season so far!!!  At which point, Unsy took off on a run down our left touchline, almost 50 m of it, clutching the Bellies badge on his shirt and almost sticking it down the throats of the front row of Villa fans.  This was not guaranteed to endear him to the Brummies, nor did it.  But the huge Bellies following was too busy dancing all over the Witton End and part-ways along the Doug Ellis Stand.

After 10 minutes of mediocrity, the game turned Villas way again and we never got a real look in for the rest of the match.  Merson and Steve Stone were prominent for them and together with Taylor they had the initiative sewn up.  The second half was much the same.  Paul made a couple of good saves and they got a string of corners and looked as though theyd score any minute.  Nyarko came on for Gravesen for some reason which I can only assume was sos he could see tackles at close quarters and not look puzzled every time someone asks him to deliver same.  Some hope...

Then Ginola came on for them and I said to Texyla, Thisll make all the difference.  And so it proved.  After passing his foot over the ball a couple of times, and thereby bemusing the entire right-side of our defence, he closed in on the left and casually looped over a superb cross right on to the penalty spot.  Davey cant watch everybody, Bally wasnt up to it, and Taylor got his head on it and it went in with a good header.

For some reason Idan Tal was brought on to replace Nic, who hadnt had a good game but remains our only player who can do something unpredictable in different areas of the pitch.  Oh well.

Villa were worthy winners.  And so we went home.

By the time we got back to our beloved city the weather was even worse.  I couldnt wait to get into the warmth.  Change, shower, slump into the big armchair with a glass of Frascati and put a DVD on.  It was Billy Elliot.  I watched the merciless opening scenes of how provincial England was mercilessly betrayed and thought how appropriately it ended the day.  But wait.  Its a great movie with a great and hopeful ending.  Out of the ashes grows hope through our youngsters and their determination.  Fuck the establishment, theyve only won a few battles.

See the movie.  Its much better than Gladiator.  It cost a miniscule of the budget but it has more genuine heart, determination and real humour than a million PLCs and a zillion spreadsheets.

And thats why, one day though gawd knows when Everton Football Club will be back where we belong.

But it was still a shitty day against Villa.  As they say in the military though: You shouldn't join up if you can't take a joke.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Aimless, shapeless, and pointless
Steve Bickerton
A draw would have been a good result today and I felt that we perhaps had the momentum to get one.  More than that, it would have been one more step towards safety.  But it's never easy at Villa.  Our last win there was pre-Premiership and, as for scoring against them, it's not really been our fort.  But, with Villa not really threatening a European qualification and safe from relegation, there was an opportunity to grab at least a point.

The game started with Villa keen to press, and the Everton defence repelling them untidily.  Not for long, though, as with little more than a minute gone a pass came in from the Villa left.  Ball stepped in to clear it, but it seemed to bobble and dive between his legs.  Pistone was well placed to pick up the ball but Dublin stepped in quickly, flicked it beyond the Italian and drilled it skillfully beyond the despairing dive of Gerrard.  72 seconds and 1-0 down.

We never really looked like getting back into the game.  Villa pressed forward again and again, with Taylor firing over the bar, Dublin heading wide, and Merson seeing Gerrard save beneath his crossbar.  Then we seemed to to get a spark of life into our game as we pressed down both the left and right flanks.  Villa's defence looked wobbly for the first time and on one such occasion Pistone and Unsworth combined down the left for the one-time Villa man to send in a cross only for Campbell to head wide. 

Everton promised much and it was soon delivered.  A foray down the right saw Everton pick up a throw close to the Villa 18 yard line.  Gravesen launched the ball into the box only for it to be cleared towards the angle on the opposite side.  Cue David Unsworth, who lay back and drilled a left-foot volley crisply into the the top right-hand corner of the Villa net.

The Villa fans were stunned as our David charged for the corner flag at the Holte End, proudly showing his badge to his Villa detractors.  He wheeled to his left and proudly sported his badge the length of the field until he reached the Everton contingent in the North Stand.  Bliss it was!  Give that man as many contracts as he wants.  When he shows off the badge, it doesn't matter that he's not the most skilful player we've ever had, it doesn't matter that he's not the best defender he means it!  What you get with David Unsworth is effort and commitment and a delight in wearing the Royal Blue (or yellow as it was today)... and what a goal! 1-1.

After that, it was an end-to-end half, with both sides pressing but neither looking convincing.  With the score still level at 1-1, the half-time whistle went.

The second half started with Everton again dropping back into their shells and Villa making progress, but this didn't produce a goal this time, and the boys in yellow once more found the desire to go forward.  Alexandersson pulled the defence from left to right, but didn't receive much support from Campbell, who had a more than disappointing game.  

In the end, the best chances early in the second half came from midfielders a drive from Pembridge, which James could only parry, but which nobody followed in for, and a flowing move down the left, which saw an Alexandersson cross nodded back towards Gemmill, who fired a volley over the bar.  After that, we seemed to decide to move back again, the midfield seemed to get congested, and we lost the initiative to Villa.

At this stage, we were getting clumsy and a plethora of free kicks saw the referee get out his notebook.  Gravesen again talked his way into the book, protesting at a free kick given against Gemmill for tugging at Taylor's shorts as Taylor had similarly treated Gravesen just a moment before without any comment from the official.  Tommy saw the red mist at this point and charged around needlessly true, he played better from thereon but Walter decided that he needed to err on the side of caution, before Tommy received another yellow, and swapped him for Nyarko. 

But this made no difference to the pressure that Villa put us under, especially once Ginola replaced Hendrie and the second Villa goal, when it came, was no surprise.  A few tricks from Ginola, a cross into the box and a drive from Taylor, which comfortably beat Gerrard: 2-1 Villa and no way back.  Or so it seemed, as Tal, who had come on with 20 minutes to go, nearly tipped the scales back to equilibrium.  He was in the box ready to meet a Watson cross and was pulled from behind with the goal at his mercy.  But the referee waved play on and, despite the protestations of the Israeli, he was not about to change his mind.

We'd gone from comfortably drawing to trying to hold our game together.  We never really looked like getting back into it, once we went behind for the second time.  I couldn't put a finger on exactly where it changed.  Was it Gravesen being replaced by Nyarko?  Or was it Tal for Alexandersson?  I don't really think it was either. 

 There was a point around 25 minutes from the end when John Gregory squeezed the midfield and put on Darius Vassell up front.  That gave Villa a pacey outlet and we could do nothing about it but drop further back.  Out of the window went adventure and good-bye went the point.  The difference in the end was belief in attack rather than reliance on defence.  In fairness, towards the end, we were aimless, shapeless, and deservedly pointless.

Man of the Match:

Very little to shout about in this game in terms of outstanding performances, but for his whole hearted effort, David Unsworth gets my vote for the second game running.

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Gutless approach from Smith and Knox
Rob Burns
Walter Smith's judgement has been called into question frequently regarding his signings, but today's match will leave many Evertonians questioning his decision NOT to re-sign the 100% blue blooded David Unsworth.  A player who I have said after previous matches should not play in the royal blue ever again, is showing the type of form, commitment and passion that we will never get with 11 Juan Pablo Angels in our team.

More than ever this afternoon the scores began level according to the program the clubs had won and lost 65 encounters each, with exactly the same number of goals scored.  But the appearance of Pistone who looks suspiciously more in need of a dope test than any of last week's National runners suggested that the teams would not demonstrate such fine balance.  A theory compounded within the first 2 minutes of the match when Dion Dublin picked up a pass on the edge of the box, the Italian showed all of the stopping power of an oil tanker and stumbled past leaving the Villa Number 9 to slot home beyond the diving Gerrard.  Caught cold, the players looked as disbelieving as the fans.

From the restart, Everton tried to get going, but were overrun by waves of Villa attacks.  The major problem seemed to be the total lack of understanding of the system.  Apparently beginning with 5 at the back (Unsworth, Pistone, Ball, Weir and Watson) but attacking with Unsworth venturing down the left flank leaving a back four behind, it appeared that Walter as against Man City was attempting to play the dynamic system employed by Portugal in Euro 2000, with Everton hero Abel Xavier as the centre half-cum-wingback. 

But with no really effective candidate for holding the ball up front, there was no time for Unsworth to get forward on the break and really support the forward push, and too frequently the ball came straight back.  Meanwhile, the valiant Rhino, booed at every touch by the home support, was forced to cover two men as Wright and Stone combined, leaving the lack-lustre Pistone floundering and uncertain as to his marking target.

It was hard to determine how Everton began to find their feet, but increasingly Gravesen, Pembridge and Gemmill began to gain some authority and passing fluidity.  Watson's efforts on the right, combined with Unsworth's efforts on the opposite side, gave us width, with Pistone looking far more effective in the Villa half as he overlapped and threw some dangerous crosses into the area.

In the ascendancy, Gravesen elected to take a throw from the right.  Launching the ball deep into the box, it was picked up on the left of the area by David Unsworth and volleyed like a true centre-forward, nearly lifting the roof of the net.  Best of all was the most genuine display of badge-kissing you will see as a defiant Unsworth ran in front of the home crowd clutching his shirt.  "Rhino" was the only chant to be heard.

Half time and buoyant Evertonians looked forward to more of the same.  No changes made, and the half beginning with Everton playing like the home team, Alexandersson beginning to find some lines of communication with KC, and Watson releasing Gravesen on the right side; surely it would pay off? 

Most disappointingly, Campbell was released by the Swede in a super turn but, as he reached the edge of the box, he was felled all too easily when he could surely have attempted to take the defender on.  Also a disappointment was Gravesen's booking for dissent.  Remembering his policy and numerous sendings off at Villa Park, Smith looked to replace the Dane, who's enthusiasm was sure to see him getting an early bath.  Time for Nyarko, who I am sure that everyone, including the manager, is anxious to see perform as he did pre-season, and in the opener against Leeds.

Nyarko sat in the hole between Pembridge and Gemmill, with Gemmill taking up the right slot in front of Watson.  Nyarko failed to establish a presence, however, and Villa began to gain momentum.  Seeing raid after raid on the Everton box, Walter committed suicide, as he frantically waived Unsworth to get back into the box and defend.  In a second, the continued left flank attack was gone and Villa could throw everything forward.  The travelling supporters muttered "Tal" surely an option to pen the Villains back and take off the pressure?  Sure enough, the Israeli stripped off.  And the sign came up.  Alexandersson to depart!

Heads down and the game was lost.  The introduction of Ginola to test Gemmill on the right was a sign of Greasy Gregory's determination for 3 points.  Everton crowded behind the ball and scenes of panic ensued.  Ian Taylor's connection with a Ginola cross, after Watson and Gemmill gave him too much room on the edge of the box, was the inevitable.  Game over and three points lost. 

Unsworth's battle ended with concussion after an elbow connected with his head and to a chorus of jeers he was taken off for Joe-Max Moore.  The lad played a blinder, and whilst he will never win us the Premiership, as a back-up for the first team, he provides 100% commitment when he is called upon.  If we are going to make one signing that will not result in a let down, it is with David Everton Unsworth.

In the end, it was a deserved victory for a Villa side who went for the throat.  Everton are not lacking class or ability, but they are lacking the self-belief and the motivation to turn draws into wins or prevent them from ending in defeat.  Sadly, the blame can lie nowhere else but on the bench, with Messrs Knox and Smith seemingly gutless in their approach to the match.  

Luckily for Everton, the Derby needs no introduction as an event, and the players will need no other motivation than the fury of noise that will engulf Goodison Park.  Sadly for the other 37 games of the season, we need a manager, a tactician, and a motivator.  Apply in writing, enclosing a current CV and salary requirements...

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Ginola keeps Europe hopes alive
Steve Thomson, Electronic Telegraph

DAVID GINOLA'S talents were restricted to just 21 minutes as a substitute yesterday.  Yet the mercurial Frenchman, who struggles to find favour with Aston Villa manager John Gregory, still made the telling contribution that secured victory for the West Midlands club.

After a lazy-looking saunter down the touchline, he dropped a shoulder and slipped inside past Steve Watson and Scot Gemmill before curling over a pinpoint cross for Ian Taylor to nod in the 80th-minute winner.

As a result, Villa's faint hopes of European qualification stay glimmering while Everton must wait a little longer to be absolutely sure the cloud of relegation has passed over them.

The in-form Lee Hendrie had wasted no time in making his mark.  One minute into the match he delivered a low cross from the left, Ian Taylor sold a clever dummy, the ball clipped off Michael Ball's heel and Dion Dublin had only to steer it past the exposed Paul Gerrard.  Dublin did not disappoint, duly netting his eighth goal of the season.

Villa's main midfield threat came from Hendrie, who was three times the victim of vigorous challenges from Thomas Gravesen.  Everton's willingness to dig in received its reward midway through the half when Gravesen's long throw-in was merely helped on by Gareth Southgate's header, David Unsworth volleying home a spectacular bicycle kick which David James barely saw before it hit the back stanchion.  It was the perfect answer from the former Villa defender who had been the butt of the home crowd's jeers.

Gravesen, who had frequently incurred the referee's wrath for illegal tackles in the first period, stupidly got himself booked for dissent as Villa showed they were intent on regaining the initiative.  Indeed, they hit the woodwork twice inside a minute as Alan Wright's 30-yarder thumped against a post and Dublin's header from Wright's corner bounced off the top of the bar.

Everton, in response, were restricted to a fierce first-timer from distance by Mark Pembridge which ricocheted back off James's chest.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

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 Ginola's precision sets up Villa for late flourish
by Ron Clarke, The Sunday Times
NOT AS meaningless as we had the right to expect at Easter as Aston Villa's late rush for European football continues with this narrowest of victories.  They have now gone seven games unbeaten.  Everton need one more win to be absolutely certain of maintaining their Premiership status, adding extra emphasis to tomorrow's clash with Liverpool.

Not for the first time this season it was the entrance of David Ginola was instrumental.  It was his pinpoint cross that allowed Ian Taylor to nod home at the far post on 80 minutes.  Ginola, a substitute for Lee Hendrie, had been on the field barely ten minutes.

The game was given the early boost of a goal in only 75 seconds.  The recalled Alan Wright galloped down the left flank and looped the ball across the edge of the penalty area.  Fortunately it was through Michael Ball's legs allowing Dion Dublin, also making a return, to calmly dummy David Weir before placing the ball neatly past Paul Gerrard.

Villa, once again playing in 4-4-2 formation, allowed their momentum to fall away.  Everton had only a header from Kevin Campbell to trouble the home defence before they equalised in the most simple of circumstances on 21 minutes.  Thomas Gravesen's speculative throw-in was deflected backwards off the head of Gareth Southgate and into the path of David Unsworth arriving unmarked on the edge of the six-yard area to smash home the equaliser.  How the former Villa man enjoyed scoring in front of the Holte End.  It was Everton's first Premiership goal at Villa Park for six years.

Another former Villa man in opposition colours was full-back Steve Watson.  He admitted this week that many of Everton's performances this season had been inexcusable but added serious injuries in mitigating evidence.

This was once again reflected in the lack of available forward power with Francis Jeffers and Duncan Ferguson both still out injured.  This left Campbell up front on his own and Everton content to sit back as the sides changed round.

The new period began with frenetic action as first Wright saw his 20-yard volley smack off Gerrard's left hand post and then the goalkeeper was in the way to tip over Dublin's header.

Although in the ascendancy and prompted by the ever-willing Paul Merson, the home team rarely threatened.  Everton were restricted to long-range efforts, a rasping Scott Gemmill shot midway through the second half being about the best.

With time running out the game was in desperate need of something extra.  Enter Ginola and his intervention for the winning goal.  After the game Villa manager John Gregory said of the Frenchman's substitute appearance: "I told him to go on and win the game. He was brilliant".

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

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 Villa raise sights after recent run
by David McVay, The Times

ASTON VILLA embarked upon this campaign with a reluctant entry into the InterToto Cup followed by a swift and ignominious departure from it.  Then came stirring talk of a serious tilt at a Champions League position, followed by a brief flirtation with relegation, and now a place in the top six has emerged as the carrot dangled to enthral the regulars.  A sequence of three victories and a draw has revived fortunes in a season of frustrating underachievement and John Gregory, the manager, is confident that things are finally going in the right direction.

The size of the squad now is very evident, he said.  When you can bring on the likes of Ginola, Angel and Vassell, who collectively turned the game for us, it shows the depth.  We have not always been able to do that.

Ginola supplied the cross for Ian Taylors 81st-minute winner, a glancing header to finish a perfectly timed run.  There was even a first shot on goal for Juan Pablo Angel, until the referee ruled it out by recalling play to a free kick.  Still, the Colombia forward managed another one before full time and Gregory believes that within those ten minutes, more evidence was supplied to justify the expenditure of 9.5 million.  With Gareth Southgate later hinting at a return to the England fold in Greece in June, joy and optimism were almost boundless.  It was an error by Southgate that allowed David Unsworth to score for Everton with a fine 21st-minute volley, a blissful moment against his former club negating Dion Dublins neat goal in 75 seconds, after Michael Ball and David Weir had given us their Max Wall impersonations.

Everton, still a win away from safety, put in a robust, workmanlike afternoons stint.  If they snatch three points off Liverpool at Goodison Park today, another eight months of almost unrelenting struggle will be forgiven by the blue half of Merseyside.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
   Up to Reports Index ]

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