Being founder members of the Football League, Aston Villa has a long history of conflict with their local rivals, Birmingham City. The claret half of the city celebrated victory in the very first league meeting of the sides, at Wellington Road, and followed up that 2-1 win over Small Heath with a 2-2 draw at Muntz Street.
One year later, Villa once more hosted their rivals at Wellington Road, and so unfolded the first of these five amazing days when the city turned claret with the figurative blood of the enemy.
Villa 7-3 Birmingham – 7th September 1895
Had there been a fantasy football competition back in 1895, there can be no doubt that any punters with Johnny Campbell in their team would have been singing his praises all weekend. Campbell netted four times, with John Devey getting two. By contrast, Villa goalkeeper Tom Wilkes endured a torrid afternoon, letting three goals slip past him. To this day, it remains the highest-scoring affair in the entire history of the fixture.
Birmingham 1-2 Villa – 12th December 1987
Villa was vying for the second automatic promotion spot behind Millwall. Curiously, it was on their much stronger away form that Graham Taylor’s Villa side mounted the successful promotion campaign of 1988. Of the thirteen away wins that cemented a second place for Villa, the 2-1 Yuletide win at St Andrews that was undoubtedly the sweetest. Having lost the reverse derby 2-0 that August, Villa’s revenge would be hard-fought and well-earned.
Five minutes later, it was Villa’s turn to stand and stare in disbelief as Andy Kennedy waltzed through the visiting defence and fired home. Seven minutes after the break, Gage and Thompson conspired brilliantly to give St Andrews an action replay of the opening goal and send Villa up into second place ahead of the gruelling Christmas run.
Villa 5-0 Birmingham – 12th October 1988
Anyone who believes that Villa can do as they did thirty years ago, and gain promotion, should check out these odds which have Villa as sixth-favourites (at 14/1) to win the EFL Championship. In 1988, Villa was revelling in their restored status as a First Division
In 1988, Villa was revelling in their restored status as a First Division team and had already won the first leg of this League Cup tie 2-0 at St Andrew’s. Already full of confidence, and their hated neighbours still wallowing in the wilds of the Second Division, Villa were unstoppable in their demolition of the hapless Blues.
Kevin Gage took just six minutes to resume his torment of Birmingham City, clipping the ball past the young and inexperienced Tony Elliott. With the score now 3-0 on aggregate and Villa backed by a raucous home crowd, the demolition began in earnest.
Three more goals flew past Elliott within the next eleven minutes to make it 6-0 on aggregate. Tony Daley rounded off the scoring with a peach of a strike into the corner.
Remarkably, Villa went one better the following month, demolishing an under-strength Birmingham side 6-0. As if the city was not already claret enough, Aston Villa managed to retain its top flight status, while Birmingham City went from bad to worse and tumbled into the Third Division in May 1989.
Villa 3-1 Birmingham – 16th April 2006
Flash forward eighteen years, and Aston Villa is locked in a vicious battle with several other teams for Premier League survival. Amongst those is Birmingham City, against whom Villa had arrested a winless Premier League run the previous October.
Painfully recent memories of Peter Enkleman’s infamous gaffe and the previous season’s league double of derby defeats evaporated with a masterful Villa performance that sent the Blues one step closer to relegation.
Slack Birmingham defending allowed Milan Baros to sweep home from close range after just ten minutes, but on twenty-five, Chris Sutton poached an equaliser by driving low and hard past Thomas Sorensen.
The remainder of the half was a close-fought, cut-and-thrust affair, but the second half would belong completely to Villa. The home side restored their lead when Olivier Tebily’s header could only find Kevin Phillips, who centred for Gary Cahill to acrobatically find the corner of the net. Twelve minutes from time, Baros scored his second on the break to secure the points and (as it transpired) send Birmingham down.
Villa 5-1 Birmingham – 20th April 2008
Birmingham was back immediately but was once again thrust into a relegation battle. By this time, the Villa squad had improved drastically under Martin O’Neill and was gunning for a UEFA Cup place.
Just eight days earlier, Martin O’Neill’s men had thrashed Derby 6-0 at Pride Park and carried over their viciousness into a Second City derby that would prove pivotal to Birmingham’s fate. Ashley Young and John Carew, both of whom enjoyed stellar seasons in 2007/08, ran the show and netted a brace apiece, leaving the opposition eating dust.
It was Young who opened the scoring on twenty-eight minutes, finding the bottom corner of Maik Taylor’s net with a firmly driven shot. Birmingham worked their way back into the game, but the second goal always looked like being Villa’s.
That it came three minutes before the break was the death knell for Birmingham – and their Premier League status. Young was the provider this time, finding Gareth Barry, who played in John Carew, with the Norwegian hot-shot doubling Villa’s lead.
Far from a rallying resistance, Birmingham produced nothing but a metaphorical white flag. Carew settled matters just nine minutes after the break with a well-taken goal, and Young waltzed through the defence ten minutes later to make it a resounding 4-0. With echoes of 1988 aplenty, Villa sought a fifth.
After conceding a consolation goal to Forssell on 67, Villa duly got it through Gabriel Agbonlahor, thanks to a Liam Ridgewell mistake which allowed the boyhood Villa fan to finish with ease.