See also: Brendan Hanrahan, Villa Memory Man, on big wins, record crowds and a redoubtable Mackem lass
When Aston Villa came to Sunderland, they relied on an atrocious refereeing decision (denying a perfectly fair last-gasp headed goal) for a point. Revenge on Saturday? Not likely, says Stuart Young, we’re in for another awayday defeat. But unlike growing numbers of pessimistic SAFC fans, Stuart* – who lives and breathes Villa and has his own website to prove it – says we’ll still stay up.
What else do we learn? That Tommy was a great disappointment, that Andy Reid could be a top man for us and that when asked about Birmingham, Stuart doesn’t initially even think about City (though he then makes up for it in style). Oh, and surely it’s the Mags he is telling to “get a grip”
But then again the people of Sunderland are so much nicer than Geordies, who constantly seem to believe that the whole world owes them success. Come on lads you have a great support but get a grip.
Sunderland and Villa have had a few players in my era to play for both sides. Phil Bardsley, Gavin McCann, Tommy Sorensen and of course Dwight Yorke. Yorke in my eyes and many Villa fans is and always will be a legend.
I will never forget the goal he scored for us against Manchester United in the 1993 League Cup final. And then there’s the cheeky chip he scored from the penalty spot against Sheffield United. I could go on forever, it’s just a shame you guys never got to see the Yorke we did, but at the same time he’s done a great job in his midfield role for you.
………..after that short and sweet introduction Stuart got down to the Salut! Sunderland questions………….
What did you think of our respective clubs’ prospects before season started?
Sunderland for me were going to stay up purely because of your manager. I don’t rate many of your current players, although I thought Chopra and Jones would be among the reasons your lot would stay up. Shame only the one is doing the business for you. On my side, an improvement on last seasons ninth place was the minimum for me and a Cup run would that been nice. Instead we are fighting for Europe and no Cup run. Suppose we can’t have it all.
When did you last see a SAFC v Villa game home or away, and what happened?
You know, I remember the two teams meeting a few times but noy any games that stand out in my mind. I’m thinking we beat you 2-1 at some point at home, but, like I said, sorry because I can’t remember the game.
Have you been to the Stadium of Light? If so what did you make of it? Of Sunderland itself?
I’ve never been to the Stadium of Light for a game. Was planning to come up this year but an operation stopped me. I went to Newcastle last year for a weekend with the ex-girlfriend and being the big football fan that I am, I had to have a look at the sunderland ground. It looks quite impressive. Sunderland the town, I didn’t look around too much, but it didn’t look like a big place.
What about the signings each club made in the transfer window?
The biggest hit for you, I think, will be Andy Reid, I’m also a fan of Phil Bardsley. He was once on loan with us and wasn’t the best but wasn’t the worst. I think if Keane can get the best out of Reid you have some player there. Wayne Routledge was our only signing, and to be honest I don’t know a lot about him, except he flopped at Spurs so only time will tell.
What are your predictions for both clubs for rest of season (I was very impressed by what I saw of Villa’s performance at Arsenal. How far can you go)?
Our biggest problem this season has been ourselves. We are our own biggest nightmare with consistency being a problem. I think on our day we are capable of beating anybody in the league. I believe we will finish 5th-6th. As for Sunderland, I believe that there are three sides in this league that are poorer than them, so can see them staying up.
Do you regard Brum much as we regard Newcastle? Or are you more grown-up about such things?
It depends on what your asking. Because I love Birmingham, purely because I’ve lived here my whole life. Would I move away from Brum? Maybe, but I’ve never really seriously thought about it if I’m being honest.
Come on. What do you really think of Brum. City, I mean
Well every club will say that their derby is bigger and their hatred for their rivals is bigger than the next team’s. But Aston Villa and Birmingham is the second city’s big derby and the amount of hatred in the city on the day of the game, and usually the week building up to it, is immense. Fans are separated by fences and rows and rows of police. But each year without fail, there is still lots of trouble. Fans don’t just look forward to this game, but they look out for each other’s results, hoping that Birmingham have lost again. And as much as Villa love playing Birmingham, we also wish they get relegated the way Derby are this year. We hope a bulldozer gives Small Heath a facelift and kills the area. That show how much we hate them?
Any memories of players and/or management linked to both clubs? Sorensen and McCann, plus Yorke, are obvious recent examples, and then there’s Martin O’Neill’s boyhood fondness for SAFC?
I didn’t know O’Neill had a fondness for Sunderland, only thing I remember is him turning you guys down. And we managed to get him witch is very good for us. As for players, as you stated McCann, Sorensen and Yorkie have featured for both clubs. I thought Tommy was one of the best keepers in the league when he signed. However, I was extremely disappointed and how inconsistent he was. Then McCann – I’ve never seen him as a top midfielder but he just keeps going somehow. And Yorkie always will be, in the eyes of Villa fans, a legend.
Club vs country. Who wins for you?
I would go to war for my country. But when it comes to football, Villa is my religion and I think about them every day so it would be club on that front. Plus it doesn’t help with the increasing frustration of watching the national side.
Who will win? Score? I take it you’ll be there.
I’ll be there, in my usual seat in the Upper Holte end. I believe we will get a 3-0 victory with Gabby, Carew and Barry all on the scoring sheet.
* Stuart Young on Stuart Young Resin floor layer, early 20s, one of group of pals who run the websit http://avillafan.com>. Paul McGrath is his all-time hero. Gavin McCann and Tommy Sorensen don’t even make the subs’ bench of his dream team: Mark Bosnich, Fernando Nelson, Alan Wright, Paul McGrath, Olof Mellberg, Gareth Barry, Ian Taylor, Andy Townsend, Dwight Yorke, Dean Saunders, Paul Merson. Subs: James, Southgate, Johnson, Hendrie, Dailly.
** Another Villa fan – one planning to pop over from Abu Dhabi for the game – has also contributed an article, which deals knowledgeably with historical links between the clubs (and with Mackem lasses). So Salut! Sunderland will make room for a second bite of Who Are They? this week. Brendan Hanrahan‘s posting will appear later in the week.