Demarai Gray excited by Second City derby

Since joining the Club as a 10-year-old from local junior side Cadbury Athletic, Frankley-born Gray has been no stranger to the fierce rivalry engendered by meetings with Aston Villa.

Blues Academy regularly play Villa at all age levels and last season’s Young Player of the Year admits the intensity was just as high.

"Obviously I was buzzing when I saw the draw," said the teenager.

“Coming through the ranks, I’ve played in quite a few games against them from under-12s to under-16s.

“Even at that age it’s a local derby, so we were at it and it was intense. We were all excited, as they’re more aggressive games and it meant a lot to us young kids.”

The draw for the Capital One Cup third round was made live on TV with most of the Blues squad watching it unfold in the dressing room, having just made short work of seeing off League One leaders Gillingham.  

Gray’s initial reaction was one of delight and the winger was quick to stress to Blues’ summer recruits just what the Second City derby means to the fans.

“Drawing Villa is just crazy,” he said, with a broad smile.

“Personally it’s great for me and out of all the games this is definitely the one I want to play in. I’m raring to go.

“Hopefully I can start, but even if I’m on the bench the atmosphere is going to be great.

“I’ve told some of the boys that signed this year that I don’t think they quite get how big this game is.

“I think they’re getting the feeling and the meaning of this game and once they are there with the atmosphere, everyone is going to understand how big this game is.”

It’s been several weeks since the draw and the rivalry between the two sets of fans in the city has been reignited, with it being almost five years since the clubs last locked horns.


For the Blues squad however, their concentration has solely been on the league fixtures.

“We couldn’t think too much ahead, because we’ve had games before and we’ve had to keep our focus on the league,” added Gray.

“I’m sure that everyone in the next few days is going to be at it and I think the focus is going to be that little bit extra, because it’s such a massive game.”

Blues’ early season form has seen the Club on the play-off periphery with Gray being rewarded for his recent performances with international recognition – the 19-year-old adding two more England U20 caps and a goal to his ever-increasing tally.

However, despite Blues’ strong start, Gray believes they’ll go into the fixture as underdogs.

“We’re obviously going to be the underdogs as the Championship team. They’re a good side but it’s the cup and anything can happen,” he insisted.

“It’s just Blues and Villa on the pitch so everyone is going to be up for it. We’ve had a good start and I know we’ve definitely got what it takes to win the game.”