The second city derby is one of the fiercest in British football, and since 1887, when Villa first beat Small Heath Alliance, they have had the better of their midland rivals.
After going 13 unbeaten in the earliest days of the derby, Villa have amassed 53 wins, losing 38. Back to back losses have removed any faint hope of play-off football, and now Villa have nothing left to play for other than bragging rights, having only lost to Birmingham once since 2005.
The Blues are hovering above the Championship’s relegation places, but with new manager Harry Redknapp in place, will be hoping for an immediate pick-me-up.
In anticipation of Sunday’s clash, The Villa View casts its mind back to the best derby day victories in B6 history.
5th November 1887 – Aston Villa 4-0 Small Heath Alliance
Taking place some 100 years before I was born, Villa came out on top in the first competitive derby between the two sides. Played at Wellington Road, Villa’s second home (after Aston Park), Tommy Green netted twice as the Villans breezed through the second round of the FA cup.
The win was made even better when Villa went on to lift the trophy, beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 in the final, played at the Kennington Oval.
The 1980/81 season
Not just one game to relive, but two as Villa did the double over their city rivals, going on to win the Division One title in the process.
Their first meeting of the season came in October at Villa Park, but it was the away side who dominated much of the first half. However, a Gordan Cowans penalty coolly dispatched handed Villa the lead, and Allan Evans confirmed the win with a sumptuous volley on the turn.
The second win came in December, and this time Villa dominated. The score could have been double had it not been for Jeff Wealands, who made a number of great saves to keep Birmingham in it. David Geddis bagged a brace, and Gary Shaw added the third, having run the Blues’ defence ragged all day.
The team went on to win the league, incidentally the last time Villa were crowned Champions.
9th November 1988 – Aston Villa 6-0 Birmingham (Simod Cup)
Three goals in four minutes derailed Birmingham as Villa breezed through the opening round of the Full Members Cup, a now-defunct competition for the top two tiers of the English leagues.
David Platt and Bernie Gallagher capitalised on failed clearances, before Birmingham lost all resolve heading into half time. Derek Mountfield, Allan Evans, and a sterling solo effort from Alan McInally killed the game off before it reached half time.
With the win already in the books, McInally added his second, pouncing on a loose pass to give Villa their biggest derby day win to date. The victory came just a month after a 5-0 victory (7-0 on aggregate) in the League Cup.
16th April 2006 – Aston Villa 3-1 Birmingham (Premier League)
There was a lot riding on this match up in 2006. For Birmingham, Premier League survival was paramount, while Villa weren’t safe either. Having not won a second city derby in the three years since Birmingham were promoted, victory was long overdue.
A double from Milan Baros either side of an incredible acrobatic effort from centre back Gary Cahill wrapped up all three points for Villa. The 20-year old, in only his fourth game, leapt high above oncoming defenders, scissor kicking the ball past Maik Taylor from close range.
The win helped secure Villa’s safety, while Birmingham, managed by Steve Bruce, were sent back down.
20th April 2008 – Aston Villa 5-1 Birmingham (Premier League)
Remember the time we had a host of international-calibre players, and regularly competed for the European places? In what was the start of Martin O’Neill’s run of three consecutive top six finishes, Aston Villa put their rivals to the sword with a humiliating defeat.
Ashley Young was at his best in this one, orchestrating the win with a sublime performance, as well as two goals, including skinning Stephen Kelly for the fourth. John Carew also bagged a brace, which will live long in the memory for one Villa fan in particular.
Dan Reynolds, who took part in The Villa View’s game at Villa Park earlier this season, was the ball boy picked up by Carew after the front man headed in his first.
Gabby Agbonlahor completed the rout with a great solo strike, and as Villa fans celebrated the win, as well as European qualification, Birmingham finished the season 19th, and were relegated once more.