Opinion

Are Aston Villa ‘luckier’ than local rivals Birmingham City?

Looking ahead to the huge Second City Derby this weekend, we look at whether some clubs have good fortune bestowed upon them, whilst for others nothing ever seems to go right.
Words by Alan Wilson (VillAlan54)

Two brothers who follow the Blues once accused me of supporting a team (Villa) who always and I quote, “have Lady Luck smiling on them”. It begs the question whether there is some truth in this mythical old saying. Their view, was that Villa have always been blessed with good luck over the years and the Blues are a club ‘cursed’ by misfortune.

They pointed in particular to two events that ensured success for Villa by “sheer good fortune”. Firstly, the day Villa secured the FA Cup final victory over the Busby Babes of Manchester United at Wembley in 1957. This they asserted, was because the United keeper Ray Wood was injured in a clash with Villa’s Peter McParland and had to finish the game out on the wing. This good fortune had ‘handed the cup to Villa’.

The next one was when the ball bounced off Peter Withe’s shin (and the far post) to ‘gift’ Villa the European Cup against all odds and in doing so robbing the mighty Bayern Munich of the trophy. ‘Lady Luck’ was really smiling on us that night wasn’t she? Coming into more recent times, the brothers rued their luck when Gary Gardner (who apparently had never scored a header in his life before) somehow managed to luckily loop a header over the Blues hapless keeper and into the net. So there is the ‘irrefutable evidence’ of three results where Lady Luck has been firmly with the Villa.

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The Villa viewpoint always was and still is, that you make your own luck when you play with belief, hunger and positive attitudes. Ray Wood saw McParland heading towards him to make a completely legal (not any more!) shoulder charge and for some unknown reason (and to the great surprise of McParland) failed to sidestep the challenge. Wood’s shoulder and neck injury meant he had to vacate the goal and see the game out on the wing as there were no substitutes in those days. Villa pressed forward to record a historic 2-1 over the Busby Babes. On that balmy night in Rotterdam Peter Withe did what he was best at, he anticipated a cross from Tony Morley and poached a winning goal.

As for Gardner’s header where was the challenge from a blues defender? Conclusions. Is it good fortune, or is it going about your business in a consistent, professional manner and taking your chances when they come along? There are arguments that can go either way. You could say that Aston Villa’s ‘good fortune’ has deserted them for the past 8 to 10 years, but has it? Is Birmingham City really a club that historically had a curse placed on it’s pitch by so called Gypsies?

All I know, is that I hope ‘Lady Luck’ is wearing her best Claret & Blue dress on Sunday!

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