Thursday, March 10, 2011


With the raucous Caucasus still fresh in the mind and in the ears, it might be worth taking a breath, counting to thirty-two and reading the following two snippets from a dusty old scrapbook. They hark back to a time of Van Blerk and Beesley, angst and strife. A time when things began to happen that no longer caused surprise amongst those cognoscenti, long since brought up on the dry cabaret of Slap & Tickle, Blood & Thunder. There was no Bernard Manning symbols clap, just hollow laughter and the sound of water flooding out through a tiny vortex of despair and calamity. 

So for those advocating an Aston Villa European capitulation next week, think again. For those decrying swollen feet and sore heads, battered egos and busted flushes, read on. We were not always party to such exalted company.

Here was a day when the world truly fell on our heads. The agitated chap in the centre circle tugging at his season ticket book, the terrace groans growing to a crescendo, Frank Clark sloping off to find his guitar...

There followed, a few short weeks later, this little number in West Yorkshire as we slid towards the 3rd division. I remember sitting numb from the waist up in the Allied Colloids Stand watching a Brazilian in white shoes waltzing around our defenders, who stood off proud and erect like the moss covered statues in Gatcombe Park. A month later, City had disappeared over the precipice into a land they called Division Three.

Now we fret about Balotelli holding his face, David Silva his ankle. We worry that they may not have packed Yaya Touré's hot water bottle. We wonder at a fixture list which presents cup quarter final hurdles at home and abroad and Champions League deciders week after week. So, thank you Kiev, for reminding us of our task. This is what we have waited a long time for, but now we're here, can anyone tell me what we're supposed to do.....?

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