City Make History at Villa Park
By Manny Dominguez
Tuesday January 2nd 2013 was a night of wild and nervous excitement transformed into unfettered jubilation amongst the 6,000 plus travelling Bantam army. Crowds of City fans had gathered in the Witton pub – we filled both rooms and the beer garden with great camaraderie and singing, though we were penalised £2 for the privilege and the pub raised the cost of the beer to take advantage of the occasion and our wallets! There was a huge police presence, and they as well as stewards shepherded us like cattle towards the ground but this didn’t dampen our excitement.
Villa Park is an amazing experience in a crowd of 40,000, standing at the back of the top tier. The sight of all the flag-waving Villa fans in the Holte End was just amazing. I imagined I was in the crowd of Burussia Dortmund! It was one of those nights where Bantams fans were singing themselves hoarse from beginning to end.
The game itself was a battle of endurance as City were under the cosh for most of the first half and when Benteke scored in the 24th minute I began to bite my nails. The second half presented us with a much more composed City side. We were more determined to play our football. I felt that Villa were relentless in thwarting our efforts though we battled so hard to win the few opportunities we had. At times we defended too deep which gave greater opportunity for Villa to score, but we rattled their cage from a corner kick and with our James ‘he used to work at the Co-op’ Hanson nodding the ball home passed the helpless keeper sending us fans absolutely barmey. I was so pleased for him. We came close on numerous occasions with Wells then Thompsons shot hitting the cross-bar from a Steve Darby cross. Zavon Hinez ran into and teased the Villa defence sending them into disarray. Everyone played well but when Villa got their second I was having kittens. Four minutes extra time was agony and then the final whistle finally came, and the noise that came from our end was absolutely incredible! What truly marvellous night. The celebrating was just something else. What more can be said? It was off back the Witton Arms for some more celebrating before setting of home.
In all the problems of the modern game - big business sucking the life out of the working class tradition of going to the match - football mirroring class society and many clubs going into financial crisis. For many long suffering loyal supporters there are the occasional respites to that rule. League Two Bradford City’s success story has everyone talking about the club and its fans; Giant killing acts like this are admired by football fans across the world reflecting the belief that there should be genuine equality and that there should not be such one-sided favourability for the richest in our society. And of course there is the fact that now City have reached Wembley, we will see much needed millions injected into Bradford City as a result of our semi-final League success giving us a more equal footing to compete for future success like getting out of League Two.