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From the Archives: London "all the brighter" after Arsenal-Villa draw

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From the Archives: London "all the brighter" after Arsenal-Villa draw


It's more common to think of the weather affecting games of cricket rather than football, especially with The Ashes in full swing at present.

But inclement conditions helped Villa 50 years ago when they came up against this weekend's opponents Arsenal.

Villa, in fact, had to play Arsenal three times in 1953-54.

The league match against the Gunners at Highbury in January 1954 had to be abandoned after just 22 minutes because of fog.

And remarkably Villa, at that early stage, were already 3-0 down in the encounter.

As the Villa News & Record said: "The game at Highbury, which was to be some kind of Cup tie rehearsal, turned out completely farcical owing to the unkind attention of that despoiler of all outside sports - fog.

"Although the game went on for over 20 minutes, as a rehearsal of the great event due to be held later, well, it wasn't!"

It continued: "Despite what happened in that game a week ago, we are still hopeful - with a full team - of being able to give Arsenal a hard game in our Cup tie and even force a replay at Villa Park."

However, when Villa returned to Highbury for the third round match three days after the abandoned clash, they were on the receiving end of a 5-1 drubbing.

But when the league fixture was restaged in April 1914, Villa earned a very impressive 1-1 draw thanks to Peter McParland.

The Villa News & Record added: "This new game duly took place to our advantage and profit in the way of adding to our points total.

"We were, in fact, unfortunate not to win outright. We had the better of the first half and by bright, clever and methodical play often worked to within striking distance of the Arsenal goal but alas, when there, they failed to take their chances.

"That we deserved our interval lead there is no gainsaying but it should have been more than the one goal scored by McParland in the eighth minute.

"It was only a half chance which presented itself to our young left winger but he took it like a veteran and hit a hard ball into the corner of the net from just outside the penalty area.

"Then the Arsenal levelled the score. It happened in a goalmouth scramble where the famous head of Tommy Lawton piloted a good ball over our goalline after 66 minutes of play."

The match was watched by over 15,000 on the day and Villa escaped a late scare.

Frank Moss Jnr handled the ball and the Gunners earned a penalty.

Len Wills took it, hit the crossbar, met the rebound and "netted without any other player having touched the ball" - obviously an offence then as it is today.

The Villa News & Record added: "This was but poetic justice for had Arsenal scored legitimately and so won the game it would have been all against the run of play. We came away with a point and London that night seemed all the brighter for it."

Unlike in January, of course, when it was enveloped in murkiness!

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AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 14th August 2013
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