Newcastle’s fourth game of the new Premier League season takes us to Villa Park, a ground where historically
the Black & Whites have fared reasonably well, indeed given that our two meetings to Villa’s old Wellington Road venue ended in 7-1 and 5-1 reverses for The Magpies we can only be grateful for the move! Our last trip to Villa Park was in January when Papiss Cisse and a magnificent Yohan Cabaye strike secured a much needed three points in an early relegation 6 pointer. In the Premier League era Villa Park has been the scene of both milestones and turning points in our history and fortunes. From our first away Premier League victory in 1993 when Malcolm Allen and Andy Cole scored the goals to set us on our way to a rollercoaster Premier League adventure which ended (albeit briefly) on May 24th 2009 when Damien Duffs outstretched boot sent us down amidst the rest of the country’s laughter and cheers.
Trips to Aston Villa will also remind fans of managerial turnovers involving NUFC, the axe falling on Sir Bobby Robson’s head after a 4-2 defeat in August 2004, some might say we haven’t recovered since. Circumstances were not too dissimilar in 1997 when Arthur Cox and Terry McDermott took the team for the first game after the resignation of Kevin Keegan and managed a 2-2 draw, supporters may remember that day for the remarkable display of solidarity shown by the away team and their supporters whilst the nation was undertaking an open mockery of the club.
The 1980’s saw a mixed bag of outcomes at Villa Park after our promotion in 1984, our first visit ended in a miserable 4-0 hammering at the hands of The Villains with Paul Rideout bagging a hat trick. That horror-show was reversed a year later however when Peter Beardsley and a young Paul Gascoigne got on the score sheet in a 2-1 victory, an early sign of things to come as the lad from Dunston embarked on a remarkable career. One of the final nails was hammered into the coffin at Villa Park during the relegation season of 77-78, when Andy Gray helped Villa to a 2-0 victory against one of the most abject teams in United’s history. The two sides were in different divisions for most of the 1960’s but met regularly in the 1950’s, United were successful in the first half of the decade, coming out on top three seasons in a row between 1952 and 1954 with Jackie Milburn scoring the winner in all three!
The back end of the 50s however saw United come back to Tyneside empty handed on four occasions, including a 2-1 defeat in 1958 with future manager Gordon Lee starring for Villa.