Villa Park, Abbeyside Premier League, 21/6/22
Entrance – £0
Attendance – 43 and a cat
Pie – N/A
Pint – N/A
Aberlour Villa Football Club
Founded – 1924
Nickname – The Villa
Selected Honours – Moray Welfare League Premier Division– 2016. Tom Hunter Cup – 2017. Tewnion Cup – 2017
Random Fact – The club were founded by five locals who met in “the toilets behind the kirk” as there was nowhere else to host a meeting in the town.
Sometimes fitba throws up delights that will live with you forever, tonight Wee Man and I had one of those experiences. Given the choice of Haven v Mintlaw up in St Fergus or this. I am so thankful to him it was this and going by his “this is my new favourite ground” he is chuffed with himself too. There is just something magical about Villa Park. Sitting sandwiched between the banks of the River Spey and the Aberlour Distilery in the heart of whisky country, it is a truly magnificent setting. I don’t even know if I can do it justice in words. We turned up to the bonnie wee town of Aberlour with a good bit to spare. This being deliberate so we could walk a bit of the Speyside Way to see a bit of our beautiful country and the famous old river. As we headed back for kick off we nipped into Villa Park which was once home to Ex-Aberdeen keeper Nicky “shortbread” Walker. Here we bumped into home manager Lee Donald and had a wee blether about the league and the clubs ambitions. He was very kind and gifted Wee Man a club snood too (which came in handy later). As we stood there at the pavilion side the view point of the carpark opposite looked too good to not take on as our vantage point. It sits at a guess twenty foot above the pitch. We toddled the long way round instead of just crossing the the ground as Wee Man wanted to to chuck sticks in the Burn of Aberlour from the nearby suspension bridge (or wobbly bridge as it was named) right outside Villa Park. Once we got to the car park side we were greeted with the best view I have seen anywhere. Looking down on the pitch you hardly need to turn your head to see the action unfold. The pitch is surrounded by woods and natural growth and looks great with its railed outer and antique pavilion. One thing I was told was the pavilion is on its last legs and will be replaced in the near future which in my eyes is a real shame as it adds so much character to the place. Enamoured, captivated, soft spot, what ever you want to call it, Villa Park has done that to me.
There was also the little issue of a game during the night too. Villa were top going into this and Cullen fifth, but going by the explosive start from Villa there looked to be some serious daylight between the sides. With less than a minute on the clock it was one nil when Cullen keeper Ian Jack let the ball through his hands and legs from a Blair Watt shot from range. A horrific start to proceedings from the visitors. It wasn’t long until it was two nil when Watt was at it again when he diverted a set piece past Jack. The Villa man seemed to have too much space in the box as he finished the cross. Cullen had a huge chance immediately and could have seriously changed the game, but forward Mill despite having plenty of space and time headed a Coull cross wide. It was one of those moments where you knew it was going to be costly and it was as within minutes, instead of 2 v 1 down Cullen were 3 v 0 down. Another set piece saw another Watt get on the scoresheet. This time Craig who was on hand at the back post to head home another cross. Things were looking over and there was not even fifteen minutes on the clock. However, Cullen came into the game played some good football at times. They didn’t look like a team who had just capitulated into the three goal do-in they were currently on the end of. They managed to grab one back before before the half when Ethan Blanchard burst through on the right, cut in and lashed home from ten yards. A cracking finish as the angle had started going against him by the time he let fly. Game on. Villa created a few chances the best falling to David Blackhall and it really should have been game over right on half time when Villa got the ball into the box, there was a bit of pinball until Blackhall chested down and shot from two yards but incredibly his effort went across goal and wide.
HT 3 v 1
After a very sweary team talk Cullen came out looking to further reduce the deficit. They again like in the second half of the first half played some good football in the search for a goal. They did get that goal and it was heavily aided by the Villa keeper who came rushing out his box and took a Cullen man out and earned himself a booking. The freekick was swung in and Callum Risk nipped in and struck what wasnt a ferocious effort off the clearing header which found its way in. This was shaping into a very good game. Both teams shared possession in the middle of the park but failed to create much. It was looking like if there was to be another goal it would be crucial. The goal did come eventually and it was the home side who killed the game when Blackhall made up for his earlier miss and clinically struck home from 18 yards when found with a cross. Granted he had maybe a couple of yards too much space but the bottom corner finish was never getting saved. 4 v 2, was that it for the goals. Yes was the answer and the game descended into fouls and little goalmouth action barring Villa’s Brady Ogg seeing his header cleared off the line by defender Imlach. The game fizzled out and the referee brought this decent game in a fantastic venue to a close leaving two Aberdeenshire loons more than happy with the decision to head the hour across to the Moray town. As stated at the top football give you surprises and I can hand on heart say seeing this great venue is one of the best I have had. Its a stunning place to take in a game. If I have a complaint, the fucking midges. They were like a biblical swarm . I can imagine what the pavilion side must be like, surely it is worse than our distillery side vantage point which was bad enough. Only Claggan Park in Fort William has been eviler. Another wee point to make, I was under the impression going into this that Cullen’s left back was a bit of Paolo Maldini, Roberto Carlos and John McMaster all rolled into one. Maybe I caught him on an off night. (Nice to catch up min)
On the way home Wee Man again stated that Villa Park was his new favourite ground. 112 grounds in four countries at all levels and he chooses a Moray District Welfare Ground as his new favourite. I take pride in that. But also I am in agreement to an extent as this place is brilliant and absolutely in the the upper echelons for me in Scotland. Simple but bloody stunning. A delight.
Me 236, Wee Man 112