Aston Villa 1 - 2 Everton

Maybe it’s a prophetic sign when I see Platform 13 announced on the departures notice board at Euston. As always, I travelled full of optimism. A quiet journey with not many football supporters onboard until the train got to Coventry when a few Villa fans joined. We can do this regardless of the last visit to one of my favourite grounds – is what was in my head.

Into Birmingham New Street later than planned and off to the posh Wetherspoons in a train station that resembles an airport, where I’d arranged to meet Rob. Steve and Dave were there too. We discussed politics, global conflict and Everton. Debates amongst friends about a various range of subjects, which was sometimes heated, but entertaining!

We finally pulled ourselves away or we would have missed the match and a couple of ex-Army mates who were at the Witton Arms were pinging me to meet up. I’ve mentioned before, one who comes from Allerton, the other from Warwick who I introduced Everton to in the 90s and now his kids follow the Blues. I feel guilty sometimes! I never knew different, but they had a choice. They chose.

The Witton Arms wouldn’t let us in. I protested asking them what they thought we were going to do. Apparently cause trouble was the response. I told them there was a near combined 70 years of military experience but there was no budging. We just left it and headed to the ground. Three ex-Army blokes wandered around trying to find the ground, which was on the end of our noses. We saw the bright lights and headed in. An impressive stadium Villa Park.

The atmosphere was building in the very narrow concourse that carried on into the away end. Fantastic. Just absolutely fantastic. I don’t usually join in with the singing, I just stand their beaming with pride when the Travelling Blue Army is in that mood. They were up for it and I just hoped the players were.

I don’t know if it’s a Midlands thing, but they did that flame-thrower thing before kick-off and the build-up to the teams coming on seemed to take ages with irrelevant non-Aston Villa songs. "Hey-ho Silver Lining" – one of my favourite Apres Ski songs ruined by England and numerous other football clubs.

I digress. It was almost like being at Wolves. I didn’t have to worry about Neil’s eyelashes as it was off to the side and not in front of us. It all seems a bit NFL. No disrespect to our US cohort.

We dominated that match from start to almost finish. The work effort and pressing was relentless until the last 15 minutes, which gave us some nervy moments. Some of that may have been down to the changes, which disrupted the team pattern as I saw it. Some of it sheer tiredness.

However, as I’d said prior: start strong, win the game, then rest. Not the other way around and end up chasing the game, which we’ve tended to do in this competition in the past. That’s what the manager and team did and it energised the crowd.

For the first, it bobbed, it bobbled, it went up in the air then came down. I didn’t know where it was going to land. Then eventually a sublime precision through ball from Onana and the young lad from Birkenhead smashes it home.

We nearly got a second from an almost own goal and then Calvert-Lewin hit the side netting. Should he or could he have used his left foot or is that overly harsh? He probably went with instinct.

Dominic put a shift in, working hard and looking sharp again. He robbed their defender for his goal through anticipation and pressure on the player and ball. A noticeable difference was that the midfield and team in general were closer to him as we pressed and played higher up the pitch.

Even Jordan Pickford, notorious for staying inside his 6-yard box, was coming outside the penalty area to take control of situations. And he made a couple of crucial saves as always.

Harrison looks direct and lively. Great through ball for Calvert-Lewin to almost squeeze it home. He looks promising.

Onana had a really good game; one of his best to date in an Everton shirt. Patterson and Mykolenko were good in different ways. When he came on, Gueye did what he does, the ugly stuff, and broke up play. If I’m pressed, Garner was my Man of the Match. Keep him central.

The goal conceded was unfortunate. I think Jordan had it covered but it took a deflection, I think off Michael Keane.

I don’t mind Villa and respect them as a club. I had heard of the near 20,000 unsold seats prior to the fixture, but to see so many empty seats was a bit strange. To our left, the section of the Doug Ellis Stand was virtually empty and if you looked at the upper tier of the Trinity Road Stand, similar. A shame I thought, but they made their stance on ticket pricing and practically boycotted. Respect.

Our support as ever was immense. The players came over at the end with Spirit and Marching lifting the roof off the North Stand as it had been doing throughout the match.

I’m not sure why some of our supporters booed Lucas Digne. As far as I am aware, he didn’t ask to leave the club and was sold either because of our financial situation or the wishes of the then manager who departed soon after.

I was fortunate enough to bump into a smiling Neil as we made our way down.

I had an odd encounter back at New Street with a couple of Villa supporters who were shouting at a group of Evertonians who were still singing “Spirit” at the station. “You’re going down with the Dingles” was their response. I asked them what they were on about as I didn’t see the relevance to Emmerdale. Once they calmed down, apparently it’s their reference to Wolves supporters. I have no idea why and they gave no explanation.

I’m sure we all had long journeys home. The last train back from Birmingham, the 23:11, delayed by half an hour. I eventually got home around 2 am. I fell asleep to “I guess why they call it the blues” only to be woken by my “alarm clocks” (2 x Rhodesian Ridgebacks), who are like clockwork. A nudge and a lick at 5:30 am to get me up and get them on the park.

Based on the last two games, we are playing with confidence and have our tails up. Maintain the momentum, Everton.

Burnley next in the Carabao Cup. I’m up for it. I expect the team and Goodison to be. One day, we are going to win this elusive trophy. Let’s go for it this season and get into Europe. We will be fine in the League if we keep performing at this level and we are starting to pose an attacking threat with different options available.

Forever. More than life.

Reader Comments (9)

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Mark Murphy
1 Posted 29/09/2023 at 08:33:08
Two points, Danny boy...

1. “A posh spoons”? WTAFIT?? An oxymoron surely? Watered down ale but in a carpeted bar??

2. You thought mentioning that you were battle-hardened ex-squaddies would get you past the bouncers?? Next time, arrive in your Chieftain tank!

See you Saturday UTFT

Mark Murphy
2 Posted 29/09/2023 at 08:35:55
Sorry, point 3
Some fans boo Digne because he went down like he’d been shot at Goodison when that plastic bottle sailed past him a yard away.
Martin Farrington
3 Posted 29/09/2023 at 10:59:33
Danny, great tale of a happy toffee's trip to a 2nd city that in many places seems to have failed to develop since WW2.
Especially around "The Dingles". Sneak in and out to remain alive is all I can advise there.

The League Cup is a trophy that dislikes Royal Blue ribbons for sure. To that effect, our teams, from the great to the goddam awful, have reflected its dislike of us by performances equally as distasteful.

The game was something that turned a huge corner for the Dyche regime. Two significant away performances featuring different personnel, justified on each occasion. Furthermore, much deserved. Bad luck haunts us. This time was no different. A speculative strike had to hit the down at heel Keane and … well.

I am glad Villa's over-rated and fist-first keeper was absent. I feared DCL had some medicine left from their previous encounter. He may well have non discreetly administered it.
But satisfaction beating a side that is a very worthy opponent must have led to a very jubilant return journey. Especially as the last train home wasn't cancelled, unlike Villa's Carabao Cup hopes.

David Williams
4 Posted 29/09/2023 at 21:04:24
First time poster but long time admirer of your posts, Danny.

Ex-Forces. Me too. By the way you couldn't breach a few Juiceheads on the door and couldn't find your way from The Witton Arms to the away end, I'm assuming you and your mates are hats.

Anyway, always look forward to your posts and you have encouraged me to post.

Keep up the good work! 👍

Neil Copeland
5 Posted 29/09/2023 at 21:31:52
Danny, nice report and good to see you there as always.

It's funny but the flame throwers reminded me of Wolves too, I've still got the sun tan and my eyebrows have just about recovered.

I had wondered about the boos too, Mark #2 has it - thanks I had forgotten about that.

A very good performance which was particularly satisfying after the trouncing they gave us in the Premier League. Seems like a bit of momentum is building, need to keep it going tomorrow.

Looking forward to the game as always and meeting up with new faces at The Harlech.


Rob Halligan
6 Posted 29/09/2023 at 21:41:46
“We discussed politics, global conflict and Everton. Debates amongst friends about a various range of subjects, which was sometimes heated, but entertaining!”

Danny, you got off lightly! Sometimes those debates can get a bit more than heated, they can get as hot as those flame thrower machine things, that Villa and Wolves use, particularly between Laurel and Hardy, aka Dave and Steve!

Peter Moore
7 Posted 29/09/2023 at 21:50:51
Really good to read that, Danny, thanks for the write-up.

I am not sure if the glaring missed opportunities of 6 points vs Fulham and Wolves are helping spur the lads on to maximise their efforts, but I hope so!

We are playing catch-up to where we 'cudda/shudda' be points wise, so let's hope we do what is hoped for and near expected vs Luton and Bournemouth. Maximum effort should see us through I sincerely hope.

About the hitherto eternal fruitless quest for the League Cup, may this be our turn! So many lesser teams won it previously, we are certainly well overdue (we woz robbed against the shite all those years ago of course), it would be absolutely magical if we could win it this season.

With Man City out, with our full strength team, we can give anyone a run for their money I feel. COYB.

John Raftery
8 Posted 29/09/2023 at 22:17:40
Thanks for your report, Danny. It's not very often we get two away wins in five days. Savour the moment.

Rob (6), I used to think Dave and Steve were wind-up merchants. Eventually I realised they do actually believe what they are saying! 😂

Jay Evans
9 Posted 02/10/2023 at 19:27:17
Mark @ 2,

Digne was getting loads of grief at that particular game long before that imbecile threw a bottle at him.

As everyone knows he didn't want to leave and only did so because our beloved FSW decided Digne was surplus to requirements.

Let's have it right, the booing is hilarious. Even funnier when you think that Digne would walk back into our current team.

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