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Six Of The Best: Here are our top 'last day dramas'

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Six Of The Best: Here are our top 'last day dramas'

First up in our Six Of The Best summer feature series, we take a look at stand-out final day encounters from Villa's Premier League years.

7th May, 1994

It was the Holte's last stand - and Dwight Yorke earned a standing ovation for a second-half brace that provided a perfect farewell to what was once Europe's largest behind-the-goal terrace.

Villa had struggled since beating Manchester United in the League Cup final at the end of March, but it all came right on an emotional afternoon at Villa Park.

A crowd of 45,347 - at the time, the Premier League's biggest crowd - packed in for an historic occasion, 19,210 of squeezing on to the Holte for one last time before it was demolished to make way for the current all-seater stand.

It was described in the Villa Review as "a singing, swaying, colourful mass" and those words were perfectly apt as Villa recovered from a 17th-minute Robbie Fowler to claim three points which lifted them to 10th in the final table.

Yorke wasn't on the pitch at that stage but his introduction as a half-time sub for Stefan Beinlich totally transformed the game. In the 65th minute the Calypso Kid equalised; nine minutes from the end he hit the winner.

Villa fans headed home laden with any souvenirs they could carry from their favourite terrace, plus memories to last a lifetime.


14th May, 1995

A year after the Holte's last stand, Dwight Yorke again scored twice against Liverpool in Villa Park's final game of the campaign.

This time his goals were more crucial, securing three vital points as Brian Little's side battled to avoid the drop.

But it meant Villa still headed to Norwich a week later needing a draw to be sure of staying up, and apart from those who travelled to Carrow Road, another 7,000 turned up at Villa Park for a live screening.

It was something of a roller-coaster ride in East Anglia. Steve Staunton's seventh-minute header settled claret-and-blue nerves, and we became positively relaxed when news filtered through that relegation rivals Crystal Palace were three-down at Newcastle.

There was a double scare in the second half, though. Jeremy Goss equalised for the Canaries - and suddenly we heard that Palace had pulled two goals back.

Thankfully there was no further scoring in either game...

Dwight Yorke

10th May, 1998

Ten weeks earlier, Villa had been 14th in the table and contemplating a possible relegation battle. But the appointment of John Gregory as manager sparked a revival which sent them rocketing up the table with nine wins from the final 11 Premiership games - including this crucial last-day victory.

Arsenal arrived at Villa Park as champions but for Gregory's boys there was everything to play for, with UEFA Cup qualification still a possibility.

Despite the enormity of the occasion, the manager handed a full debut to 17-year-old Gareth Barry, who had been given his first taste of senior football as a sub at Sheffield Wednesday the previous week.

Barry's magnificent performance was one of the highlights of the day, although it was Dwight Yorke's cheeky-chip penalty which edged Villa closer to their European dream.

That was finally secured a few days later when Chelsea's Cup Winners' Cup triumph released an additional UEFA Cup place.

Marcus Allback< strong="">

3rd May, 2003

Earlier in the season, Marcus Allback had written himself into the record books by scoring Villa's 500th Premier League goal.

But even that historic strike against Fulham paled into insignificance alongside the one the Swedish striker scored in Villa's final home match.

Graham Taylor's side went into the game against already-doomed Sunderland aware that relegation was still a possibility - and the tension was all too evident.

But nine minutes from the end, there was a huge sigh of relief when Allback drilled the ball past keeper Mart Poom. Villa were safe.


5th May, 2007

Villa marked the 25th anniversary of the club's European Cup triumph by welcoming the 1982 squad for a weekend of festivities, including the official opening of the new Bodymoor Heath training ground.

The undoubted highlight was the parade of the players who won in Rotterdam before the final home match of the season against Sheffield United.

And after the former stars had been giving a tumultuous reception by a capacity crowd, the current side produced a performance worthy of the occasion.

Gabby Agbonlahor opened the scoring in the 10th minute and just before half-time, Ashley Young doubled the lead before Czech midfielder Patrik Berger completed the scoring on the hour mark.


11th May, 2008

You could have put your shirt on Olof Mellberg turning in a solid, reliable display, even though he had signed a pre-contract agreement to join Juventus.

He may have been heading off to Italy that summer but the Swedish centre-back never wavered in his level of performance.

And on the final day of the 2007-08 campaign, he thanked the claret-and-blue faithful for their loyal support by arranging for a Villa replica shirt to be given to every visiting fan at Upton Park.

It was a magnificent gesture by a player who had given magnificent service to the club for seven years.

It was an entertaining game, too. Former Villa midfielder Nobby Solano gave West Ham an early lead but Ashley Young quickly equalised and Gareth Barry fired Martin O'Neill's side ahead in the 58th minute.

Mellberg was denied a winning send-off, though, when Dean Ashton grabbed the Hammers' second goal two minutes from the end.

By @AVFCOfficial 15th May 2014
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