This story has been updated with the club's response at the bottom of the page.
Tomorrow (the 21st of November) marks 40 years since two pubs in Birmingham City Centre were blew apart by bombs left by an un-identified party. I won't go into extraordinary detail on the event since this is a blog about Aston Villa, but at the bottom of the page are two links for anyone interested in the story of that night in November. Particularly useful if you're not from England!
All you really need to know is that 21 people died and that a further 182 were injured in two separate blasts. This was the deadliest attack on British soil until 7/7 and it's still an extremely sore subject. People don't like to speak about it because of the division it caused. It wasn't expected and it certainly wasn't called for, there seems to be no political motive for the attack at all. Even worse, six men were arrested for the bombings and then let free after the police realised they had made a mistake after imprisoning them for sixteen years. No one knew who to blame, fingers were pointed and wounds left open. Communites, familes and lives were torn apart.
So, we come to the present day. The families of the twenty-one people who lost their lives still campaign for justice and to be frank, they have not got it. Now they have learned that Aston Villa will not hold a minute of silence during Monday night's home game with Southampton.
Aston Villa are one of the pillars of the city of Birmingham. A team which has brought the city great success in the past to the city. It honestly breaks my heart to know that one of the pillars of Birmingham's community has turned down an opportunity to respect the Birmingham Bombings victims. It's not just that as well, this is the team that I and many others cherish. Forget results, forget money, forget Paul Lambert, Villa have been absolutely amazing with community projects in the past - making allotments, jobs and careers, refurbishing the Holte. That is all well and good, and I will carry on to support the club, but I cannot help but feel slightly uncomfortable about the lack of a tribute. If they have had done so much for the community in the past, why have they stopped when the community needs them the most?
Brian Hambleton lost his sister, Maxine, 40 years ago to the bombings. He summed the situation up perfectly in the Birmingham Mail, by asking "How many of those who died were Villa supporters?". That quote smacked me in the face. Fans who never got to see Villa's greatest triumph nearly ten years later. Fans who will never get to be annoyed at Lambert's Lions. Fans who never saw a Gareth Barry penalty or a John Carew goal. Fans who never got to see Villa in the 21st century. Fans who will not be respected by the club they loved.
When the sport loses a legend, clubs usually wear a black band as a mark of respect. That's just one person at the end of the day. 21 people died forty years tomorrow and Football seemingly won't remember them.
Whilst the club are now holding a small moment of respect, this shouldn't come after an outcry. Fair play to Aston Villa and I hope that the night brings peace to those who lost loved ones.