Villa Park


Aston Villa (v Liverpool, Villa Park)

Competition: English Premier League

Date: 13 May 2024

Result: Aston Villa 3 – 3 Liverpool

Tickets:  £42 adults, £14 kids (North Stand Lower restricted view – front row!)

Attendance: 42,600

Game/ Experience Rating:  ☆☆☆☆☆

The Game: My first time bringing the little lad to Villa, and he absolutely loved it. With Villa playing for a Champions League place, but clearly dead on their feet over the last few weeks, a Martinez error in goal in the very first minute gifting Liverpool the lead looked at ominous sign. Villa grew into the game, though, especially after Watkins beat his man and squared for Tielemans to equalise. The game had an air of chaos about it, with Moussa Diaby extremely effective on the break but unable to finish from at least three really good chances throughout the game.

Instead, Liverpool pulled away, and I must admit that at 3-1 just after half time, I turned to the little lad and said “that’s it” – it just didn’t feel realistic to come back given the state of the team recently. It turns out it wasn’t it at all. Villa were the better side for much of the game, and when Jhon Duran scored a long range beauty the place erupted, before an equaliser that may or may not have been intended made things 3-3, with both Villa’s late goals coming after the 85th minute.

Diaby could have won the game, drawing a top late save from Allisson, but the draw was enough to have Tottenham needing a win against league leaders Manchester City to catch Villa for that Champions League place. There was a sense of ‘nearly done’ in the vocal crowd reaction after the equaliser, and it proved right – the following day, Villa stepped out of Spurs’ reach to get into elite European competition for the first time in my lifetime. Incredible game.

The ground:  I loved showing the young lad around Villa Park, which was suitably adorned with a flag in every single seat to welcome the impressive team. We were in the very front row of the North Stand, the far side from the away fans, and my first time in the North Lower. It feels quite cramped and old school compared to much of the rest of the ground, but nobody sat down at any point from start to finish, so it had a terrific atmosphere.

We dropped in the shop for one last time – images of it being knocked down to buy a new one as Villa try to boost commercial revenue to aid the push towards the top-end of the Premier League appeared online only two days later. I’ve been going there since the mid 90s, so a strange feeling!

Extras: The ‘Up The Villa’ flags were a great momento, and I ended up bringing heaps of programmes home, mostly for Liverpool fans, but that’s Ireland! As the last home game, the speaches and crowd send off for the players was superb, too.

Assorted asides: The following day we rented a car and hit up Alton Towers Waterpark. Decent but a lot of effort for the reward all in.

My totals for the year so far:

Games: 5. Home wins: 1 Draws: 3 Away wins: 1

Goals: 19. Home goals: 10. Away goals: 9. Goals per game: 3.8