I don’t often have many reasons to be unhappy before an Aston Villa match. I get a lift there and back, so travel isn’t often a worry. Villa aren’t an awful team that lose at home every week, so there’s that. The thing is with Villa, is that a depressing malaise seems to set in now and then - even in positive times. It often feels almost physical at Villa Park and maybe it’s the weight of expectation. When I can define this feeling and locate it and report it, accurately for what it is, you’ll be the first to know.
For me? Being unhappy, it was headache, toothache, backache - you name it. Everything trying to scupper my Saturday was showing up in full effect.
Then, Albert Adomah scored for Aston Villa and did his dance routine with feet, hands and hips rolling around and the smiles come back.
Admittedly, that’s a lie - the smile came back to me when the season ticket holder next to me tried to pour the contents of a hip flask into a bottle of ‘Fanta Zero’. He was about ten to twelve pints of lager/cider deep into his Saturday afternoon and with every inebriated motion bringing the alcohol within the deer-embossed flask closer to the former terraces of the Holte End, rather than into the bottle of Fanta. I felt his failure as each movement to add an alcohol to his preferred mixer of choice fell apart. He took breath moments of respite from his poor attempts to take in the on-the-pitch action at Villa Park and almost lost control of his task when Albert Adomah opened the scoring for Villa. Shortly after, he was back to it - and this time, his mates had noticed and laid the insults on thick with every further attempt to distill his own, probably toxic, drink. The pouring of a hip flask, unfortunately, is not an eternal event. Most hip flasks are around the six Oz mark, you see, and while that is a fair bit of alcohol, it’s simply not enough to redeem every single failed attempt to pour it into a bottle of Fanta Zero. Thus, there is a time when the hip-flask pouring must come to a sorry end, but this fan was prepared for it.
Out of his pocket, or treasure leg - he counters the mocking laughs of his friends by revealing an intact and new can of Desperados, a beer flavoured with Tequila. He holds it aloft and bathes in admiration - despite the fact he has no clear shot of necking the can without being caught. It’s a small miracle that he managed to evade a pat-down by the stewards and get into the stadium with a can in the pocket of an Adidas Tiro 17 training jacket. The problem with this particular jacket is that it reveals the contents of the pockets, not through a transparent means - but through being thin. If you have, say, a can of Desperados in the pocket of your white Tiro 17 training jacket, the shape will be particularly obvious to anyone.
And it will be even more obvious to the Police - who are trained in the spotting of such things, especially when such things are not allowed within the confines of a football stadium (because if Football fans have beers, they apparently want to kill people, wear skin and do all sorts of other nasty business, but not if it’s the beer of choice within that particular stadium, where for a premium you may drink as much as you want). As our friend, our drunken protagonist stumbled down the steps of Villa Park for a half-time refreshment, more than likely the heavy can of Desperados swinging to and fro from his jacket pocket, he was spotted by the police, who instantly noticed the can within the confines of his pocket. That’s where the story ends. The drunken lad did not return and part of me hopes that his own intoxication prevented his brain from directing him back up to the same seat, but the reality is likely that for an hour of bliss and stupid enjoyment, our friend paid a heavy price and might be looking at a little more than a season ticket ban. A real shame as well, he was causing no harm. In fact, the worst thing he probably did all game outside the illegal creation of his very own moonshine within Row 14, Block K5 of the Holte End was to reach out to the man in front of him, who wore a Villa shirt with Heavey 11 on it and spell it out as JED-EE-NAK.
And now, back to Albert Adomah.
Adomah has enjoyed his own Jamie Vardy-esque rise to the higher levels of the game and his currently plying his trade, as we all know, at Aston Villa. When he joined the club, he referred to the turf at Villa Park as a carpet - and while that is a huge compliment to the excellent groundswork team at Aston Villa, it also hints at something within Adomah.
When Albert takes to the pitch at Villa and plays, he looks like he’s within his own dimension, where he is there - and everyone else except Jonathan Kodjia, aren’t. When he runs at defenders, he may as well be taking on statues, or worse - they may as well not exist at all. Albert Adomah is a super computer of football - he’s not gifted, no, but his remarkable intelligence shows him processing 10, nay, 12 moves at a time as his feet dangle provocatively over the rolling football. Players like him are a gift to the game - with the right amount of discipline to get to the top, while retaining the perfect amount of immaturity to play exactly in the manner that makes the game of football fun. We all fall in love with football for the drama, and the fun of it all - which is why when the game is taken too seriously, it loses that mass appeal. When 0-0 draws are seen as losses, that’s a real feeling. A 0-0 is a perfect result in that both teams should be perfectly matched on the day, but with players like Albert Adomah, who sometimes seem stupefied by the fact they have gotten so far within a game without a clear error, sometimes you have enough in your side to steal that win, with a sprinkle of fun.
A lot of the focus this year has been on marquee players like Jonathan Kodjia and John Terry - but rather loudly, it is Albert Adomah who is stealing the scene and not for his ability, but for the pure joy of the game. And after a 2-1 victory at home against Nottingham Forest, isn’t that why we are all here? For the exact same reason as Albert Adomah