Earlier in the week I was watching the EFL show and they were starting to discuss a certain John McGinn.
The Scotsman has become a firm fan favourite for his tenacity, strength and love of a tackle.
Then there was that goal.
In the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, the former Hibernian midfielder made sure he adorned himself to the Villa faithful with a simply stunning volley from distance. Even right this minute it’s hard to describe the sheer brilliance of the long distance volley, with immaculate technique and the fact the ball didn’t just come down from a great height but the fact he met the ball at a difficult height for himself.
After that we watched on as the ball arrowed into the top corner crashing down off the underside of the bar and howls of disbelief filled Villa Park.
I promised to myself I wouldn’t digress in this weeks post but it’s already too late!
Along with the rest of our group that travel to the games we got talking about the best long range goals we’ve witnessed live.
Now the rules are simple really, you had to be at the game, the shot had to be outside the box and the importance of the goal could add fuel to the argument of the specific goal being the best. Also the goal couldn’t be against Villa, I mean come on, we’re Villa fans! (For what it’s worth Paul Scholes volley against us was simply world class).
So in a twist from my normal kind of posts, I’ve tried to come up with my top five long range strikes from the claret and blue army.
I think they are my top five and yes, numerous changes have been made! Petrov vs Derby missed out, along with Milner away to Sunderland, Grealish vs Cardiff, Carbone vs Leeds United and Alan Wright vs Tottenham back in 2000. I also chose to leave McGinn’s out to focus on five others.
The beauty of this debate will be the reasons for everyone else so join in and share your thoughts!
It should also be noted that I was born in 1988 and had my first season ticket in 1994 so I missed out on Morley and that Chris Nicholl goal amongst others.
5. Thomas Hitzlsperger vs Bolton (Premier League – 2004)
Late on with the game heading for a 1-1 draw, Carlton Cole (remember him?) crossed the ball from the right and the ball curved with pace towards the edge of the box. Two Bolton players missed the opportunity to clear it and Hitzlsperger, affectionately known as ‘Der Hammer’ let the ball travel across his body and he unleashed a first time half volley with incredible power into the top right hand corner of the net. It was one of the best away day goals I’ve witnessed and the surge of fans to the front of the stand added to the occasion. This was just one of a catalogue of incredible goals scored by the German who would often strike with his trusty left foot from range. Always a man for a derby day too!
4. Savo Milosevic vs Leeds United (League Cup Final – 1996)
The second League Cup final of my childhood following the 1994 win over Manchester United, this game was as one sided a final as they come. A 3-0 win saw Villa legend Brian Little capture the cup as a manager after his own heroics to win it as a player. The game will be most remembered for the Serbian striker’s screamer to open the scoring. After picking the ball up in the centre circle, Savo continued forward and shaped the ball onto his left foot before thundering the ball into the top left corner from range. The commentary was just as infamous when Gary Newbon said, “He’s been called Miss-a-lot-evic this season, but he didn’t miss that one!”
3. Paul Merson vs Coventry City (Premier League – 2001)
Paul Merson was one of my all time favourite players. A brilliant signing and a luxury to have. He could create or score from nothing and having met him at an evening event he spoke about how for all the success at Arsenal, his time at Villa was his favourite and he devastated when he had to leave. The Coventry game was massive. They needed a result to avoid relegation and Villa were determined to ruin their day. However, it went horribly wrong in the first half as Moroccan midfielder Mustapha Hadji scored two brilliant goals to leave the away fans in raptures.
If ever the phrase ‘game of two halves’ needed an example then this was it. Darius Vassell tapped in from a Chris Kirkland mistake to reduce the arrears to 2-1. Soon after Juan Pablo Angel finally scored his first goal in Claret and Blue to send the Holte End crazy and fans spilt onto the pitch from the Doug Ellis stand.
But this was Merson’s moment. Picking the ball up on the left hand corner of the box, he expertly curled a shot around the defenders and past Kirkland to put Villa 3-2 up and to break Coventry hearts.
2. Matthew Lowton vs Stoke City (Premier League – 2013)
Simply put, one of the best and most important goals in Villa’s recent history. In desperate need of a win and at a difficult place in the Britannia Stadium, Villa needed a goal. A corner cleared out fell to Matt Lowton, a right back by trade. He controlled the ball with his chest and as it dropped he hit a rasping volley rising over the closing defenders and dipping with pace into the top left corner.
The whole team ran to the away end and the noise from the crowd when it went in was something else. It was arguably the goal of the season and also was the springboard for Villa to survive the drop on that occasion.
1. Stan Collymore vs Atletico Madrid (UEFA Cup – 1998)
This goal has always been my favourite as it marked my favourite era during my own lifetime. The Brian Little/John Gregory spell was when I really started to understand football and love everything about Villa rather just going along with my Dad every week. The UEFA Cup nights were my favourite games. I would love the buzz at school talking about the game and craving the end of the day to race home and then go to Villa Park under lights.
The cup run that year was special, as Villa overcame Bordeaux, Athletic Bilbao, Steaua Bucharest to reach the quarter finals. A questionable penalty in Madrid and an early Atletico goal at Villa Park meant Villa needed three goals to get through to the semi-finals.
With 18 minutes to go, Holte End hero Ian Taylor scored to give Villa a flicker of hope but two minutes later came the moment that I chose as my number one.
Stan Collymore picked the ball up on the edge of the box and cut across the defender in front of him and arrowed in a bullet of a shot past the keeper to send the Holte End into meltdown. I still don’t think I’ve heard a noise like it since and when the final whistle went and we were out I’m pretty sure I cried on the way home. The most silent car journey back from a game as my dad was quietly devastated too.
As mentioned earlier, get involved and share your favourite long range strike and the reason why either below or on our Twitter page.