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Villa Park
Aston Villa v
Wigan Athletic
Saturday, December 29th 2012, 3pm
Premier League

By Alan Parker
(Wigan Athletic fan)

My son and I are Wigan fans and we took my new son-in-law to see Wigan take on Aston Villa. This was a must-win game for both teams. Fortunately for us, the Latics played superbly to win 3-0, an early goal from Ramis and two in quick succession at the start of the second half by Boyce and Kone.

Villa played with some spirit in the second part of the first half, but heads went down after the second goal, and heads were practically at knee-level after the third. Hundreds of Villa fans started streaming out of the ground after the third goal, despite there being more than half an hour left. I would be very worried if I were a Villa fan.

This was only our second visit to Villa Park, the other one being in 2003, to see the FA Trophy final, when my home village of Burscough amazingly beat Tamworth 2-1. Burscough’s player manager was Shaun Teale, an ex Villan. That was a wonderful day.

Villa Park is a great ground and very easy to get to. You can see it from the M6. We exited at Junction 6, drove down the A38(M) and followed signs for match day parking. We parked at the first one we saw and paid our £5. It was a filthy journey down with heavy rain and spray, and heavy traffic resulting in lots of concertinas, but it was easy to get away from at the end. Our walk to the ground took us through Aston Park and past Aston Hall and we fell into familiar conversation with some downbeat but friendly Villa fans who were still reeling from an 8-0 defeat to Chelsea and a 4-0 defeat to Spurs.

Villa Park looks magnificent from outside and inside. There is sufficient leg room. The stewards told us to sit where we wanted in our section, presumably because a lot of tickets were unsold, so we ignored the seat numbers and sat much more centrally, right by the line of stewards and the home fans. It was a good job we sat as far back as we could because the rain swept in and soaked those in the first few rows. There were no problems from the home fans before or after the game. We did not go for a drink before or after the game. We felt perfectly safe at all times.

However, I do have one or two gripes. We were fore-warned about it, but there is no alcohol on sale in the away concourses. OK, no big deal, but why not? Then they managed to get the names of two Wigan players wrong on the big screen. Maynor Figueroa seems to have gone into politics, as he was ‘Mayor’. At Wigan (and, I hope, at most grounds) they have the courtesy to announce the away team, the visitors, first. I have been annoyed and disappointed at visits to Blackburn Rovers when they announce the home team first. Villa took it one step further by announcing the home team, subs and all, just before kick off, and not announcing Wigan at all. And the tickets were £35, which I think is a bit steep. Yes, I know you pay £40+ at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge and the like, but category C at Wigan is £20 (I have a season ticket, which cost £255)

Overall, a trip to Villa Park is a very enjoyable experience and highly recommended.

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