A Snapshot of Life as an Aston Villa Steward in the 1980’s
By Claret and Blue Blood
It was the 1983/84 season and Aston Villa had defeated Barcelona in the European Super Cup the season before over two-legs. Where Villa set up for a legacy? Well, we all know the answer to that, but what was it like being a steward at Villa Park in those days? Below a quick insight by a Villan who would like to remain under the moniker ‘Claret and Blue Blood’.
Everyone imagines that being a steward is a fantastic opportunity to sit down and watch your favourite team play for free. Well, based on my personal previous experience, I would beg to differ.
It would depend on where you actually do your stewarding as to your view on this. If you are standing between rival fans, who are intent on ripping each other’s head off, then perhaps its a no, especially if one of the teams score a goal.
I have experienced both sides of the coin during my spell as a steward in the 1983\4 season. It was a couple of seasons after Villa were crowned European Champions, in what was to be Tony Barton’s last season in charge.
The legends of the league and European cup winners were starting to leave the club and instead of building a legacy, Villa were transitioning into a mid-table outfit.
The main area I looked after was in the Trinity Road Stand, in the aisle to the right of the dugout, as you look at it.
It was all-seater then and on the whole everyone was polite and courteous. There was not many instances of having to tell anybody off or evict anybody either. Police presence was a minimum. My partner was a young lady and I was a 23-year-old, 10 stone weakling, so we were not really built for preventing trouble.
By far the worse experience for me, although not results wise, was the local derby versus Birmingham City. It was Saturday 15th October. 3pm kick off (remember those?) and I was moved to steward on the corner between the Holte End and the Doug Ellis Stand. Villa fanatics to my right and Blues fanatic to my left.
I don’t think I saw much of the match, as I had my back to the pitch. It turned out to be a nasty match played in wet and difficult conditions, although the main problem was the fact that it was close to bonfire night. Every few minutes a banger would go off and would make me jump!
It was the longest 90 minutes ever. There turned out to be 50 arrests, with 80 fans thrown out. None by me though. The greatest satisfaction was the 1-0 win courtesy of Mr Withe.
The only other problems for me that season were with the Portsmouth game in the League Cup 2nd round, 2nd leg. About 20 burly Pompey fans barged past us, as I shouted to them that they couldn’t sit at the front and had to leave. They took absolutely no notice. It’s the only time I had to call the police into action. Then they left.
The second leg of the League Cup semi-final saw all the Everton fans on the pitch after they lost 1-0 to a Paul Rideout goal, but having won the first leg 2-0, they had booked their passage through to the final against Liverpool. But they were a good natured bunch. It was the start of Everton’s good run in the eighties, winning the league the next season; shame we never won and it was us who went on to several seasons of success instead of getting relegated in the 1986/87 season, when Everton won the league in the eighties for the second time.
My moment of fame as a Villa steward came when I appeared on television, when Villa played Leicester on the 19th November and won 3-1.
It happened at the end, when the credits were rolling and there were fans running on the pitch. I ran after one fan and slide tackled him on the Villa Park centre circle. My wages for such efforts were a programme and a pie at half time. I don’t think I had to declare it to the Inland revenue! You’ve got to love Deadly Doug.
It was the season when we beat West Brom 4-3 and we finished 10th! Deja Vu? I hope so. UTV
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