Significance of that Villa Park Pitch Celebration to a Dad and his Young Son

“I’ll never forget this dad” – Eight-year-old Villan

By Wesley Woakes

My eight-year-old son and I were at the Albion FA Cup game at the weekend and in my 30 years of watching Villa, the amazing atmosphere at Villa Park on Saturday, has probably only been matched a couple of times in my experience, so I can’t begin to imagine what my son was thinking.

When the final whistle blew, I thought it was tradition for such a victory (in this case a trip to Wembley), that everyone celebrated with their heroes on the pitch. I’ve seen it before at Villa Park and many other football grounds, and I have always believed it was part of the game.

That is until I got home and switched on the TV to relive the great occasion. Reacting to Villa fans on the pitch, BBC Sport’s Mark Lawrenson said on Match Of The Day Live: “It’s like a scene from the 1980s all over again. Absolutely ridiculous.” Such comments were then later replicated by the media in print, which we’ve all read: “disgraceful scenes”, “return to the dark ages” etc.

I was shocked but not surprised, the media bias and objectification has been happening for as long as I can remember, but what did shock and surprise me was the amount of regular fans on social media berating Villa supporters, the same people I see week-in week-out liking posts such as “against modern football,” “give football back to the fans” and the like.

Well ladies and gentleman, this is exactly what those campaigns are standing for, the old traditions and to me, this is one of them. I do not condone entering the field of play during the game, nor did 99% of the crowd, as you could hear the jeers a mile off, when a bunch of fans mistakenly thought it was a final whistle and caused a chain reaction of other fans spilling onto the pitch. Their judgement wasn’t helped by the excitement of the occasion nor the fact that the 5.30pm kick-off had allowed them to get a few extra drinks in.

But after the final whistle, when lower league fans run onto the pitch, it’s the ‘magic of the cup’. When Villa fans do it, it’s evil ‘hooliganism’.

In a crowd of 40,000, you’ll always get the odd idiot who takes It too far, but 99% of what happened at Villa Park was good natured and fans just wanted a moment on the pitch where their claret and blue heroes play.

I’ve yet to see any report of any serious injury caused by a ‘pitch invader’. Even the person who nabbed Delph’s captain’s armband, returned it to the Villa captain. From the video evidence so far, the most aggressive actions on the pitch came from a couple of WBA players towards Villa fans.

So lastly, I’ll explain why I took my son on the pitch…

Any of you with young children will know how hard it is to get them to follow their local team. I’ve seen it with my son, when taking him football training and all the kids are there in their Barca, Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United & City tops. Brought for them by parents who have given up the fight.

Well Saturday night at Villa Park was a moment my son himself said to me, “I’ll never forget this dad”. This comes from a boy whose pretty much only interest before last night was playing wrestling on the Xbox. Now he’s buzzing with excitement for not only Wembley, but for Aston Villa, which means more to me than any media or any other fans opinion of the claret and blue faithful.


If you felt insulted as a Villa fan by the BBC coverage’s ‘idiots’ and ‘hooligan’ spin of our what was a good-natured and joyous occasion, drop them a line like other MOMS readers have already done. We need to change attitudes, so please help be part of that process. Use their online complaints form. Select ‘television’, then ‘BBC 1’, then ‘Aston Villa vs West Brom FA Cup MOTD Live’. Then speak your mind!

Recommended reading

How the Villa Park Pitch Celebrations Have Been Wrongly Scandalised – MOMS

Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid


  1. I have never said I was a better supporter. It was you that made out you were better by saying I was just a corporate prawn sandwich eating hanger on who politely applauds. Remember you are quoting Roy Keane’s remark about such watchers that conveys that specific meaning! How I decide how to spend my money (season tickets are actually cheaper) and time really does not come into it!

    It was estimated 1200/1500 misguided people went onto the pitch, I reckon that’s about 10/15% of the lower stands, hardly everybody.

    I wont comment on passion as you are entitled to believe and I respect your personal view of the other day. I have been fortunate to experience the joy of 1957, all the League Cup Finals (especially the two replays one against Everton) and Rotterdam

    Finally what you spent in the past you got value for at the time, what you did last Saturday has occasioned a fine to which you contributed 2 admission monies, probably £30 in total!!

      • so say £100 each will cover the fine as I’m sure you don’t want to be beholden to the other 30k+

    • your right it does not come into it so why did you mention you have a season ticket for 50 years? its not valid to the argument at all! it was actually £50 again not that it matters

      • This is my last reply so listen carefully. You said I was a one off prawn eating hanger on, yes or no. I took exception to this as I have followed the Villa since my first match when I was 8 some 64 years ago, I mentioned the 50 years a season ticket holder to prove that I was not what you initially alleged.

        Lets call it a day, you have your opinion so be it, be a bad day if we all agreed but being covered in coal dust from stamping feet on the terrace at Chesterfield still sticks in my memory as one of the best days ever, sad eh!

  2. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking because you have a season ticket your say as a fan is anymore more important than mine! It just means you have enough money and enough time on your hands to enable you to go every other week.

    Who are you to say I haven’t contributed enough, how do you know what I spend on tickets,programmes, merchandise etc? Pretty much anyone in the lower stands went onto the pitch and lastly if you don’t consider the fa cup qtr final an important passionate match against your local rivals please tell me why it was on of te best atmospheres in all my time or why it did cause an invasion?

    Sick of all this better fan nonsense!

    • It’s all rubbish this better fan nonsense and completely meaningless. If an idiot has been a season ticket holder 20, 30,40, or 50 years, it doesn’t automatically make them wiser or smarter than other supporters who haven’t… they’re still an idiot.

  3. 1. I don’t eat prawn sandwiches, more Pukka Pies
    2. Have supported as a season ticket holder for over 50 years, so do not need a lesson from you on how to support
    3. Passion, away matches in the 3rd Div when we were at Chesterfield etc, on coal slag terraces, that’s passion, not a FA quarter final!
    4.Where did the 90% come from, more like 10% across all the press. Check the comments on here
    5. No you have not contributed enough, I along with all law abiding supporters will have to bear the cost of your enjoyment, don’t you get it, it is a one off with a one off fine down to you and your ilk!!!!
    6. I along with the other 90%+ chose not to go on the pitch, because we can read, are law abiding and realise that invading the pitch occasions fines, that you seem happy for others to pick up.

    I bet you don’t run on the pitch at Wembley notwithstanding that your lad would find it even more exciting!

    • Oh, no, not the ‘You’re not a proper passionate Villa fan until you’ve watched them in the 3rd Div’ line. It’s a shame Lambert left, because if he had got Villa relegated in consecutive seasons, a few more generations of Villa fans could have been made legitimate passionate supporters then.

      See other reply about TV money, you’re not picking up anybody’s tab regarding the fine

      You’ve seen a few Villa pitch invasions in your time, what makes this one suddenly the ‘idiot one’. If the FA hadn’t shifted the semi-finals to Wembley, I doubt it would have happened. I was in the Lower Holte and did go on the pitch because it was a quarter-final and my friend and I couldn’t be bothered!

      But in 1994, after the drama of those penalties against Tranmere, I did go on the pitch and enjoyed it, and it remains one of my greatest Villa moments (there was no press outcry then). If you had called me an ‘idiot’ then, I would have laughed in your face. Maybe you were on the pitch too?!

  4. I’ve paid enough over the years to more than contribute thanks….your comment is again ridiculous and again a massive over reaction 90% of villa fans and fans of other clubs have received this very well but you are entitled to you opinion enjoy your prawn sandwiches and applauding lightly the rest of us will carry on supporting the club on how football was intended to be supported with passion…”against modern football”

  5. As your son enjoyed it so much, hope that in his future life he does not treat the law with such disdain or will that be OK if he enjoys it! Looking at the idiots who went on the pitch a good proportion came from seats that a seemed noticeably empty at previous league home matches. Are these the usual “one off” supporters who are now going to cost the club a small fortune in fines for their “enjoyment” negating any “one off” entrance fee they paid.

    As it can be estimated quite easily the number who went on the pitch perhaps the fine could be divided between them, perhaps the parent who wrote the above would like to make his and his son’s contribution, no doubt well worth the enjoyment. After all why should us season tickets holders have to suffer the cost of the fines!

    • What a sad attitude to have. And an even sadder comment to make. Is this a ‘one off’ incident or are you like this all the time in your life?

      Well, it seems the ‘one off’ fans are the only ones that can provide atmosphere then, because it was bloody brilliant on Saturday and inspired the team over the line.

      I’m sorry to inform you that the season ticket holder’s financial contribution increasingly shrinks every season with the masses of TV money that the club is privy to nowadays. So you’re not picking up the tab for anyone’s enjoyment.

      • Cant believe you musings, they are all so idiotic cant even bother to reply as anything I write would be well over your brainpower eg have you studied the losses at VP for the last few years!

        • Yes, thank you very much. By the looks of what you write, I think the lack of nutrition in Pukka Pies is effecting your brainpower, my dear boy.

  6. I am the father in question and just like the media you are massively over reacting I went on the pitch with my son after the rush we merely strolled on unchallenged (about 5 mins after the full time whistle) he was in no danger what so ever…your just another victim of “modern football” it’s hardly comparable with a joyride again a massive over reaction!

  7. I am sure the lad would like a joyride and never forget that but if he had been harmed or knocked over would he have remembered it so fondly. So going onto the pitch was OK? Shame one of many who thought that flouting the law for a bit of fun can male himself proud by saying that the lad enjoyed himself. Or was it the fathers excuse that he is giving for going on himself? He should have stayed in the stands with the rest of sensible supporters and the club would not have been seen to be stupid and antagonistic. So laws are for some of the time and not others? Makes you wonder sometimes what some parents think!!!

    • Kim – you don’t seem to get it, do you? Your ‘joyride’ analogy is very clumsy and as sensationalist as most of the media.

      Your perception of ‘laws’ as being things you have to follow is also wrong. There’s been laws past and present that make it illegal for women to do certain professions or to vote, others that make it illegal for people to be gay, laws that made people slaves without rights, laws that force people into arranged marriages etc, etc.

      Such pitch celebrations have been part and parcel of many great nights at Villa Park – 2010 LC semi-final vs Blackburn, 1996 LC semi-final vs Arsenal, 1994 LC semi vs Tranmere & win vs Inter Milan being the most recent ones.

      It seems you’ve believed the media, who overreacted and got it wrong.

  8. Read what Delph actually said in full. Its out there somewhere. In fact I heard that if it was a girl, he wanted to get in touch (spent too much time with Gabby). Better to be bitten than have your phone hacked, eh ?

  9. Delph also stated that he was bitten. Surely the club have duty of care towards their ‘assets’?

    • Surely you have a duty of care towards the truth and not believing media spin?!

      Delph: “It wasn’t a bite it was a kiss. I think whoever kissed me came in a bit strong! It’s probably to be expected – they were excited with the game and so whoever ‘bit’ me, thanks!

      ‘I wasn’t worried at all. The fans love me and I love them. I was jumping about with them.’

      • Context is everthing and the whole pitch “invasion” hullaballoo has been widely misreported/misrepresented. Any fan who supported in the “dark ages” knows full well that the only throw back to the 80’s is how fans are STILL treated around football grounds today !
        Wake up. Sky stole the soul !

Comments are closed.