Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Champions are champions, but cups counted much in England. The League Cup final was an unusual thrill: Aston Villa and Everton were the finalists. Was Aston Villa to repeat its 1975 success? Or Everton was to lift the coveted trophy? 100 000 fans came to Wembley on March 12, 1977. Nobody prevailed – the match ended 0-0. Replay on March 16 at Hillsborough resolved nothing as well: Kenyon gave the lead to Aston Villa in overtime, but Latchford equalized and that was that: 1-1. Third match was played at Old Trafford on April 13th. It went to overtime too, but at last one team managed to win – Aston Villa scored 3 goals (Little – 2, and Nicholl) to Everton's two (Latchford and Lyons). The sheer drama cancels any questions about the quality of the game: three matches, every one going to overtime, until one team managed to win by single goal difference. Unique final, no second thoughts about it.

One should pity Everton – to lose after three tie games in overtime is really bad luck. Undeserved. But winner can be only one team...

And the fortunate winners. Keeping their spirit high, fighting to the end, and lifting the Cup. For a team practically without stars it was fantastic success: obviously, they were going in the right direction to resurrection. Ron Saunders was quietly, but persistently bringing the old club to the level of its glorious past. League Cup winners and winning promotion to 1st Division in 1975; surviving their first top flight season in 1976 and now winning the League Cup again and climbing up the league table as well. Villa had only two high caliber players – Andy Gray and Chris Nicholl – and yet it was improving team. The good spell was not to end – Aston Villa was destined for really great time, although the squad hardly suggested so.