Welcome to the great British Terrace fights part 1. Recently we have decided to have more blog content on here and thought we would start off with something that caught our attention recently. The great scrap at Villa Park in 1976 when Rangers came to town.
I’d never heard any stories of this match until I saw a post on a forum title “On this day October 9th” that dated all Rangers fixtures and events on that day throughout history. One notable fixture was a friendly against Aston Villa in 1976 where the game was abandoned at around the 53-minute mark for crowd trouble.
We uploaded the picture to Facebook and Twitter and the posts got so much interest. We thought we would look into it further. It is said that it was one of the worst scenes of hooliganism that Villa Park and Birmingham City centre has ever seen. Chief superintendent Colin Sutton said “Drink was the major factor. They had been drinking most of the day - wine, spirits, beer and even champagne.” Apparently, Rangers fans arrived at Villa Park as early as 3AM in the morning and were buying more drink as soon as the off licenses opened.
We were not sure when we posted, how many people on social media would recall the match but here is what some of them had to say.
Two Sides to Every Story
Although tensions were running high already, some replies to the post cited Villa fans unveiling an Irish tricolour as one of the reasons that trouble started. Other say it was when Villa went 2-0 up on around 50 minutes. If the Rangers fans were drinking for as long as many claim it may have been a combination of all of these factors. For somebody who was born well after this time, it is difficult to see where there would be any beef between these two sets of fans. I guess there wasn't and it was just a severe case of hooliganism in a time where it was more common.
There is a video one the recton at the time. The women interviewed tells of how she kept her children indoors as a result of the behaviour in the areas surrounding the ground. Interestingly, she states that this was the case every second Saturday which is perhaps evidence that this sort of this was rather common.
At the height of the battle, 130 police were deployed at Villa Park. Ninety extra officers had been drafted into the city to cope with the trouble. Dog handlers emerged from the Witton End to force fans back and when some semblance of order had been restored at Villa Park police lined the track as police chased people through the streets away from the ground.
Some of the loyal following from Glasgow were stranded in Birmingham after West Midlands Passenger Transport halted the bus services on 9 routes that ran from the ground to the city centre.
What About the Game?
As previously stated, the score was 2-0 to Aston Villa before it was abandoned. Dennis Mortimer who got Villa’s first on 29 minutes, and VIlla doubled their lead with a volley from Frank Carrodus. It is said that Villa were sharper, more tactical and all in all superior, but who;s going to remember that?
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