Aston Villa – time for a bit of nostalgia.Ah, how the wheel of time turns and passes some familiar points along the way. Here is my programme from almost exactly 17 years ago, October 12 1996 when Tottenham played Aston Villa at home. Just like now, Hewlett Packard were our official sponsors. Just like now, it was the first game back after an international break in which England had played Poland at Wembley. We had Teddy Sheringham, Ian Walker and Sol Campbell in the England squad. “Sick note” was out following a hernia operation. Colin Calderwood played for Scotland, Alan Nielsen for Denmark and Rocket Ronnie Rosenthal for Israel.
That Villa team included Dwight Yorke who had been scoring goals for fun and had caught the eye of Fergie at Manchester United. Savo Milosevic, who scored 34 goals in 117 games despite being nicknamed Miss-a-lot-ovic for obvious reasons. He went on to become the Euro 2000 golden boot winner. Andy Townsend, then 33, had been the man of the match in Villa’s 3-0 defeat of Leeds in the Coca Cola Cup Final. He had also scored one of the goals of that season against his former club Chelsea with a 25 yard belter. I wonder what ever happened to him?Gerry Francis was our manager and in his programme notes said that there had been a spectacular turnaround in the company’s year-end results. He said that people forget that we had no money to speak of when he arrived in November 1994.
We were in a run of 11 games when we had not beaten Aston Villa. Better to remember when we went 22 games without losing to them between 1950 and 1962.
Gareth Southgate, today’s new England under 21 manager was marking Chris Armstrong. It was a few months after Euro 1996 and his infamous penalty failure and the ensuing pizza advert. It hardly endeared him to England fans but at least it showed he had a sense of humour. I still have my Gareth Southgate penalty eyeshades and a rubber remote for throwing at the TV in frustration that came free with a special edition of EA Sports’ FIFA Football. “It’s in the game”, indeed.
Brian Little, an ex–Aston Villa captain was their manager. He was Ron Atkinson’s replacement. I seem to remember Doug Ellis saying it felt like having a son at the helm. Or was that John Gregory? Sadly for Villa, the revolving door kept spinning and it didn’t last long for either of them.
This match was famous for Mark Bosnich’s Nazi salute aimed at Tottenham fans. I was stunned as I watched him do it and thought “he is going to be in big trouble now”. This was an early example of Bosnich’s poor judgement. In 1999 he transferred to Man United as Peter Schmeichel’s replacement and promptly won the league title with them. The following season United signed Fabien Barthez and Bosnich never made another first team appearance for them. He transferred to Chelsea and his career went down the pan when they sacked him for having a cocaine habit.
Alan Nielsen scored his first goal for Spurs as we won the 1996 game 1-0.
This afternoon we could really do with another win and a couple of goals from Soldado. How about surprising everyone, playing him and Defoe as a partnership and going for it? I know AVB is very level headed and patient which has worked well so far but I am in the mood for a gamble.