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PARALLEL LINES: VILLA

17 November 2016

The connections between Albion and Villa.


The Charity Shield
Having finished a single place above the relegation zone of the Southern League First Division in 1908/09, Brighton and Hove Albion surprised many by winning the competition five points clear of second-placed Swindon a year later. This set up a Charity Shield clash with the Football League winners Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in September 1910. Villa were the biggest name in English football at the time, having already won the Football League six times and the FA Cup on four occasions. However, Brighton prevailed 1-0. Latching onto a Bill Hastings pass, Albion’s Charlie Webb evaded a couple of Villa defenders. Then, according to the Sussex Daily News, he ‘found the net with a rising cross-shot.’
 
The promotion push
In 1971/72, Aston Villa and Brighton were promotion rivals in the Third Division. In the Albion’s first appearance on Match of the Day, in September 1971, the Midlands side secured a 2-0 victory. However, Pat Saward’s side turned the tables later on in the second. Willie Irvine’s superb finish capped a splendid team goal for the Albion in a famous 2-1 victory in March 1972. Again, the Match of the Day cameras were there to capture the occasion. For Saward, it was a sweet win. Afterwards, his reaction to his team was: “Get back into the middle and take a bow. You deserve it.” At the end of the season, both Villa and the Albion were promoted to the Second Division.

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The shirt sponsors
There was controversy before the Aston Villa v Brighton league game in October 1980 match when ATV, the Midlands ITV company, wanted to film the game, to show highlights the following evening in a two-minute news sequence. To protect their interests, the Seagulls chose to wear the logo of shirt sponsors British Caledonian Airways. As a result of regulations at the time, ATV did not feel they could show the footage. It was a shame for Villa fans, as their side won 4-1 to move to the top of Division One. To rub salt into the wounds, when they travelled to the Goldstone Ground for the return fixture, a sponsor-less shirted Albion team dented their title bid with a well-deserved victory courtesy of Michael Robinson’s goal.
 
The captains
Several skippers have connections with both clubs. Pat Saward was the Aston Villa captain when they won promotion from the Second Division in 1960. Pat went on to manage Brighton and Hove Albion ten years later, taking the club to the Second Division in 1972. When Villa won the Football League in 1981 and the European Cup in 1982, the skipper was Dennis Mortimer, an inspirational midfielder who joined the Seagulls in August 1985. On the flip side, Brighton captain Steve Foster joined Aston Villa in March 1984.

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