If you believe the media narrative, largely created by the BBC's Phil McNulty, last night's pitch invasion was a throwback to the dark ages of hooliganism and bloodthirstiness in English football. By running onto the pitch to celebrate the biggest win this club has had in ages (and given the circumstances of the rest of this season, I think you could argue this was even more important than similar cup wins in 2010), fans apparently tarnished the reputation of a club that is more than a century old.
What a load of junk. That said, let's look at some of the images of horror. Here we have Fabian Delph, scared witless by fans who want to murder him:
That smile is one of a man who knows he will soon die. And it will likely come at the hands of these two violent chaps:
Beware all ye who enter, these gilet-ed lads will smile vigorously at you. But the ringleader of all of this was this was this woman. Look closely and you can see the fire of hatred burning in her eyes:
Chills down my spine.
All three images were taken from the video feed of the match. I watched it again last night looking for instances of violence or anything aggressive. Given that the media loves a story (and given the way the announcers were shaming the crowd) if something had been happening, the cameras would have found it. The most aggressive thing I saw was a shirtless bro doing pull ups on the goal.
I don't deny the reports that a small number of fans (both Villa and West Brom) were absolute idiots and did things that endangered others. Tom has a much more in-depth look at this, but I just wanted to add my two cents to the discussion. This was not, as it has been portrayed, some bloodthirsty crowd. This was instead a crowd of people celebrating one of the happiest moments we have had as Aston Villa fans in ages.
And for the broad sweeping claims of West Brom fans being terrible because of thrown seats and a video making the rounds that shows some of them vandalising things? The same goes. Those actions probably represent a select few idiots. If throwing seats makes an entire fan base bad, then Villa have nothing to worry about with regards to our reputation being ruined this weekend: we already killed it in 2010 at St. Andrew's Park.
No, the majority of West Brom fans came to cheer on their team. And they contributed to one of the best atmospheres we have ever heard or seen at Villa Park. The same goes for the Villa fans. A gaggle of idiots does not make this a regression to the 80s. It makes them a gaggle of idiots.