IT was February, 1972, Villa hosted Bournemouth on the old Third Division – and it was on Match of the Day!
That was when the BBC’s flagship football programme only showed two of the games that had taken place that Saturday.
It was virtually unheard of for such a lowly game to make it on to Saturday night TV.
But there was a reason – a record crowd for the third tier of English football, 48,110 – even Saturday’s long awaited Premier League return against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth will not see that figure repeated.
That number has only been surpassed since by the Sheffield derby. But 47 years ago, both clubs were heading for promotion.
For Villa, it was the step back to a promotion that had eluded them the previous season – although that had reached the League Cup Final where they lost to Tottenham at Wembley.
But the Bournemouth game was part of a bigger picture – and the attendance reflected that.
Villa would go on to win the Third Division title – but Bournemouth missed out on promotion to Brighton.
On this day, Villa ended up as 2-1 winners with goals from Geoff Vowden and Andy Lochhead – now 78 years old.
Villa had to come back from a goal down though after Bournemouth took the lead through danger man Ted MacDougall – a man who once scored nine goals in an FA Cup tie. Take a look at the video for MacDougall’s superb diving header.
These were heady days at Villa Park after the shock of being relegated to the third tier of the English game two years earlier. And their next home game was against Pele’s Brazilian side Santos. The crowd? 54,437!
VILLA face Blackburn Rovers at home when they return from the international break.
And who could forget when these two sides met at Villa Park nine years ago in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final tie against Sam Allardyce’s side.
It ended up being a 10-goal thriller – with Martin O’Neill’s Villa coming out on top to set up a Wembley final with Manchester United.
Here is how BBC Online saw it in words – but click on highlights of the game to see the goal-fest for yourself.
Aston Villa battled back from a 30-minute horror show to reach the Carling Cup final after an extraordinary last-four, second leg with 10-man Blackburn.
Villa, 1-0 first-leg winners, were behind to a Nikola Kalinic brace before Stephen Warnock powered the ball home.
James Milner’s penalty when Christopher Samba saw red, a Steven Nzonzi own goal, a touch by Gabriel Agbonlahor and an Emile Heskey strike seemed enough.
Martin Olsson and Brett Emerton gave Rovers hope before Ashley Young scored.
Villa manager Martin O’Neill reached the League Cup final three times in four years when in charge at Leicester City but the presumption he would be heading to Wembley on 28 February was tested early on.
The visitors gave warning of their aerial threat when Morten Gamst Pedersen’s flighted corner was tipped away by Brad Guzan with Samba lurking menacingly.
The goalkeeper, who has started all of Villa’s cup ties this season, looked even more uncertain as the visitors took the lead.
David Dunn’s corner tempted the American into an ill-advised attempt to punch the ball and Kalinic, who hit the post twice in the first leg, comfortably outmuscled Warnock to nod home.
Four of Kalinic’s five goals since arriving at Ewood Park in the summer have now been in the League Cup and he forced James Collins into a lunging block after wriggling free down the left.
The Croatian then started and finished the move that put his side ahead for the first time in the tie.
After laying the ball into the path of Pedersen, Kalinic continued his run into the box and was on hand to tap home after Guzan had done well to push away Olsson’s header.
Villa needed an immediate response to lift their fans and Warnock provided it inside four minutes, ruthlessly dispatching a finish after Ashley Young’s cross cleared a tumbling Ryan Nelsen.
Blackburn felt that Nelson had been pushed by Agbonlahor before the ball made its way to Warnock, but referee Martin Atkinson allowed the goal to stand.
The momentum was with O’Neill’s side and the match swung decisively the hosts’ way as Agbonlahor’s pace took him clear of Samba in the race for a long ball over the top.
The defender’s desperate sliding challenge only succeeded in earning him a straight red card and conceding a spot-kick.
Milner confidently converted the penalty once Atkinson had waved away protests from Blackburn’s players.
With Carlos Cuellar and Warnock pushing forward, Villa soon had the depleted Blackburn rearguard stretched.
Samba’s absence was notable as his team-mates failed to deal with Downing’s inswinging corner and Ngonzi put the ball into his own net just before Richard Dunne could.
Five minutes later, Milner’s fierce shot deflected off the arm of the cowering Agbonlahor to beat Robinson’s dive and prompt the unfurling of the free flags distributed to the home supporters.
When Heskey was slipped in by Milner’s cute pass and rounded Robinson to score, it appeared the tie would then turn into a procession but Olsson’s strike kept the encounter competitive.
The young Swede flung himself into the air to send a spectacular overhead volley past Guzan before loudly exhorting more of the same from his side.
Robinson made superb saves from Heskey and Agbonlahor before Emerton’s apparently harmless volley found its way past Guzan to breathe life into Blackburn’s faint hopes with six minutes remaining.
However, the required onslaught never came and Young curled a finish past the outstretched Robinson to put Villa into their first final since the 2000 FA Cup.
With Villa heading for Blues on Sunday, GRAHAM HILL looks back at some of the more memorable Second City derbies of recent years – and a warning, Villa fans may want to look away at some of them
IT was the game that lifted the roof off St Andrew’s – and where Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckleman made his name for all the wrong reasons.
The year was 2002 and Blues were back in the Premier League for the first top flght meeting in 16 years.
It was a Monday night, live on Sky Sports and an atmosphere the likes of which this fixture has rarely seen.
The late Graham Taylor was Villa manager and his team contained a number of foreign players who, even now, you get the feeling did not understand the stature of this game.
Ex-Blues forward Paul Devlin said the players were like ‘caged animals’ before the game.
Remember, this was a Blues side containing players such as Robbie Savage and Geoff Horsfield, hardly shrinking violets.
But Birmingham felt the game had already been won – thanks to Sweden defender Olof Mellberg’s now infamous remark that he had never heard of Blues’ players.
In truth, Mellberg was no real fan of the game away from playing for his club. He did not record Match of the Day every Saturday and have an encyclopedic knowledge of his opponents.
But the remarks were all then-Blues boss Steve Bruce needed to wind up his team.
They were fired up for the clash, Villa were not. Looking back it was clear that Taylor’s players were stunned by Birmingham’s attude.
A 3-0 defeat for Villa came as a little surprise. But the biggest controversy was still to come.
Blues went a goal up after half an hour through Clinton Morrison. The ball ricocheted off Robbie Savage bounced into Morrison’s path and he scored from four yards out.
Then, with 14 minutes left, came a goal that is still talked about whenever the Blues-Villa derby is mentioned. Mellberg takes a throw and propels it backwards towards his own keeper, the Finn, Peter Enckleman.
Enckleman takes his eye off the ball for a split second and it bounces under his foot and rolls into the net.
In hindsight, he should have waved his arms indicate he did not touch the ball – you cannot score from a throw-in. And not even VAR would have been able to prove him wrong. But instead he put his head in his hands and reacted as though he had made contact, meaning it was a goal.
The incident sparked an unwanted pitch invasion from Blues fans – and Villa’s embarrassment was complete.
Any hopes Villa had of getting back into the game ended in the 83rd minute when Alpay was caught trying to be clever in defence and Horsfield made it three.
Blues followed it up with a 2-0 win at Villa Park later in the season – but Birmingham have never had quite such as euphoric campaign against their bitter rivals since then.