From the Archives: Raise a winning flag against Man Utd
Paul Lambert spoke of his admiration for the astonishing claret and blue support this week - and it's interesting that the same rhetoric was coming out of B6 50 years ago.
The Villa News & Record of 1952-53, ahead of our home tie with Manchester United, said: "Whatever the constitution of our team, we may be sure that they will do their utmost to raise a winning flag.
"And here, may we say, that if our followers will give the players that vocal encouragement known as the Villa Park roar, we may see their efforts successful.
"Against United, we seem to have thrillers galore and we can look forward to another rousing game this time."
They were spot on, as the clash saw a 3-3 draw, goals coming from Norman Lockhart, Derek Pace and Ken Roberts.
It's interesting to read the language used in the match report of the day.
"For this game we had an entirely different attack. Let it be said straightaway that these changes worked out very well.
"Our attack had more venom and string in it than we had seen for some little time. They had ideas as to how goals could be acquired.
"When our newest recruit Lockhart scored the first goal of the match, he was immediately taken to the hearts of our supporters. But that wasn't the only good thing he did either, for he often displayed intelligent work and good foot craft.
"As we expect when the United come to Villa Park, they played their usual cool game. It was good enough for us to realise what a power they still are.
"With it all, however, Villa were quite on a par with their visitors and level pegging of a goal each, at half-time, was a fair reflex of a fast and entertaining 45 minutes.
"Villa scored first, by a clever individual effort from Lockhart, but this was neutralised four minutes later when John Downie was permitted to run in and neatly head past Graham Cordell.
"In the second half Villa resumed with fire and energy and the United defence had a tough time. It was no wonder therefore that Wood was beaten twice in five minutes during this barrage.
"Our second goal, four minutes after the interval, was an opportunist one from Pace, then in the space of two minutes, Roberts, with two fierce drives, rattled the woodwork before he finally found the net from just inside the penalty area.
"United appeared to have lost their fighting spirit. Then in the space of two minutes, our hopes of a resounding win against our redoubtable opponents, were dashed sky-high."
Jack Rowley bagged two for the visitors and it's interesting to read the Villa News & Record proclaim: "Well, we suppose we must be thankful for having obtained one point from such famous opponents.
"But we really do think we deserved them both and we are not alone in that respect either. Still, there it is and at that we'll leave it."
It's fair to say that the rhetoric of the match programme these days when talking of the opposition is respectful, so it's interesting to observe the more gushing tone back in the 1950s.
It probably goes hand-in-hand with the ethos of that era - one of morals, manners and respect.
Of the visit of United for the above game, the programme wrote pre-match: "Today we have the pleasure of welcoming to Villa Park, the League Champions of 1951-52 - Manchester United - and worthy champions too!"
This was followed by a lengthy appreciation piece of United's honours, including references to a 6-4 defeat for Villa at the hands of United from 1948, a match we called "great" and against a team we also called "great."
The return game - at Old Trafford - was a 3-1 defeat for the men in claret and blue and the match report headline read: "United as usual."
The report continued: "When the United oppose Aston Villa, they generally rise to their full height in ability and skill and this game was no exception.
"United were slick and scientific in all departments and playing a strong forcing game were always a menace.
"United were good winners and we might easily have been beaten by a larger margin.
"To Frank Moss & Co we give all praise for a gallant effort to put a cog in the machinery of this great Old Trafford side."
Who knows what former Villa boss Gerard Houllier - who often complained of press men treating the likes of Man Utd as "monsters" - would have made of such frivolous fawning.
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