THERE have been countless important games of football played at Villa Park down the years but, for the Green Army, Saturday, April 14, 1984 was the date of the biggest fixture hosted by this iconic football ground.
On that day, Argyle went down to a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to Watford on the neutral venue of Villa Park in the FA Cup Semi-Final and we have only been back there once in a first-team competitive fixture, losing 5-2 in a league game in February 1988.
On that other day, Jock Morrison made his Argyle debut and later went on to make 133 appearances for the Pilgrims, as well as captaining Manchester City.
While nobody would suggest our Premier League Club trip back to Villa Park on Friday evening is a game of the same magnitude, it is a great occasion for the young Pilgrims due to be involved and a chance to build on successive 0-0 draws with Derby County and Bristol City in this competition.
“It’s a brilliant venue, one of the most famous grounds in England and the boys will relish the opportunity to play there,” said first-team coach Kevin Nancekivell.
“The game will be very special and fantastic to play at Villa Park. Hopefully, the boys can perform and we come away with three points. It’s more of the same off the ball because we’ve been really compact and defended well in the Premier League Cup. We then have to take our chances at the other end.”
Argyle assistant manager Paul Wotton echoed the thoughts of Nance and also added in his own special recollection of Villa Park in 1984.
“Aston Villa are decent, as you would expect them to be, and Villa Park is such an iconic stadium, so a fantastic opportunity to play at a great ground and I know our lads will go out and give a good account of themselves,” said Wottsy.
“It will be brilliant [the experience]. You’re playing against good quality opposition at a fantastic stadium, which is what development is all about.
“I watched the semi-final at Villa Park as a kid, which was amazing.”