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Aston Villa 1-0 Newcastle United: What the Win Meant

Getting to see him happy was one of the highlights of the day.
Getting to see him happy was one of the highlights of the day.

It's been a long bunch of weeks for me lately, at least as far as sports are concerned, and whether or not it's healthy, sports have a pretty major impact on how I feel in general. So I guess it's just been a long bunch of weeks. Full stop. I started March thinking that my alma mater (GWU) could conceivably make the NCAA tournament. They'd gotten a good draw and even had a first round game at home. If they won that game, I saw things shaking out in such a way that they got in. Of course they didn't get past that home game, losing to a terrible team in one of their worst performances of the year.

Surrounding this was Aston Villa's continued poor play. Yes, there have been a few not-terrible moments in the past month and a half, but not-terrible does not make for happy fans. And it wasn't just me, either. Look around the Internet, Villa fans are fed up. It was shocking (and, perversely, a bit comforting) to find out that the rest of the 7500 writers didn't want to write anything about the team either. They were a perfect combination of frustrating and uninspiring that made covering them a slog.

So I spent a big chunk of my time looking forward to the beginning of baseball. I love Villa dearly, but my first sports love (and my strongest) is the Seattle Mariners. Against all rational thought, I had somehow convinced myself that the M's had a chance this year. Perhaps not at the playoffs, but to be respectable. Then, they won their first two games, and I went all-in. Since those wins, they've lost seven in a row and scored like a pre-Bent Villa. I should have seen it coming, after all, baseball is designed to break your heart.

So when I woke up for the match yesterday, I was anything but hopeful. Sports had kicked the stuffing out of me lately. My two favorite teams looked dismal. But then the whistle blew, and Villa looked inspired. I don't mean that as "transcendent" like so many do when they use the word, I mean it in a more literal and pedestrian manner. They looked as if they were playing for something. Jean Makoun wasn't at his best, but Stilyan Petrov was. Ashley Young and James Collins combined forces for a fantastic goal, and then the team didn't give up. And did you notice Gérard Houllier's reaction to the goal? This is the best picture I can find, but it tells a lot. Remember, this is the man who many fans believe could not possibly care less about the fate of our beloved lions. Does that look like an uncaring man to you?

It looks like relief to me, but maybe I'm just projecting. Watching Villa score, and then (for the most part) dominate the game was what I had been waiting for. Gone were weeks of sporting frustration, and back was the joy of watching something you love done well. Judging by the reaction on twitter and in our game thread, I wasn't alone. I was chatting with Kirsten last night and sent her an article about the team. And she responded that she wanted to write about it. I can't remember the last time I heard any of we four writers say we wanted to write about something Villa related. It's great!

This club isn't out of trouble yet, and there are still myriad problems. But it doesn't feel like that right now. I know that next Monday I could feel like junk again, but for now I'm going to enjoy this win. Not even the Mariners losing yesterday could get me down. I had a Villa smile on my face.It's supposed to get to 87 degrees here today, and I have to go TA. I'm going to wear shorts, which I suppose isn't very professional. But no one will notice that, because I'll be wearing my Stewart Downing jersey on a day that doesn't have a match. Aston Villa have given me my first sports happiness that's lasted in weeks and there's no way I'm not letting the world know how thankful I am for that.