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Dave Woodhall's Villa Blog



Welcome to "the most hate-filled fixture in the country". Dave Woodhall reflects on how the intensity of the Villa/Blues derby has escalated in recent years.

Derbies hadn't used to be this big. Back in the mists of time they were important enough, but not a matter of life and death.

Go back long enough and you'll recall a time when Blues took a very distant second place in the affections of the Villa, way behind Albion and their penchant for ninety minutes of kicking their superiors.

Even as comparatively recently as the seventies, both games were of more or less equal importance.

Then came the years when the two other teams were in the lower divisions, which had the simultaneous and strange effect of virtually killing of Villa's rivalry with the stripey lot while at the same time intensifying the one with the team from Small Heath, to the extent that Villa v Blues is now the most intense, hate-filled fixture in the country.

Sunday's promises to be a bumper affair, following the row over ticket prices and the comments made by Villa director Charles Krulak, that David Gold cleverly chose to kick-start again the other day.

With the sense of superiority that comes naturally to Villa supporters I will, of course, be looking sneeringly down my nose at our gallant little opponents on Sunday and reflecting that by now we should have outgrown such parochial squabbles and cultivating rivalries on an international level.

And that's the trouble. Blues start the season with two aims - beating the Villa and staying up. There's no doubt that their team will be better-motivated than ours.

Villa, though, are caught between two stools. We should be above such matters and we should impose our class on both the game and the occasion. However, we can't help being brought down to their level.

If Villa play to anything like their capabilities the result's in no doubt. If the Villa who've looked poor for much of the past three games are on the pitch, there's every chance the 'neutral' Evening Mail will be doing one of their sixteen-page supplements and the Council making arrangements for another open-top bus tour and civic reception.

Can other fans remember a time before Blues v Villa was such a hate-filled affair? And which is the most intense footy rivalry you've come across?

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