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Feed the Hors and he will score

Geoff Horsfield wheels away after scoring against Villa.
Geoff Horsfield wheels away after scoring against Villa.

I was going to bend down and head it in, but I just thought if I do that I'll end up getting shot.

Geoff Horsfield

It may be more than 15 years since Blues beat Villa in the first Premiership meeting between the sides, but for those Blues fans that were in attendance at a sold-out St. Andrew’s or watched it on television, it will be a game that will live for evermore in the memories.

Villa went into the game with a certain swagger, but their pre-match over-confidence was soon cast by the wayside as they were crushed 3-0 in front of a partisan Blues crowd.

Ahead of this Sunday’s local derby at Villa Park, bcfc.com spoke to one of the heroes of that day about his memories of playing against the old enemy and his thoughts ahead of this weekend's fixture.

Former striker Geoff Horsfield was at St. Andrew’s to talk about the fantastic work the Geoff Horsfield Foundation is doing to help the region’s homeless ahead of Friday night's sponsored sleep out at the ground.

You’ve got an excellent record against Villa. Can you take us back to the Blues v Villa derby you played in September 2002 at St. Andrew’s which Blues won 3-0 and you scored?
“On paper, Villa should have easily beaten us because they'd got recognised Premier League players and full internationals, but I've always said it, we beat them in that tunnel. All of us were raging, growling and shouting. I think there was only big Dion (Dublin, who stood up to us), and he wasn't even in the squad because he was suspended or injured. He was all 'Come on lads, face these' and all that, but there weren't many of the others saying anything. They were quiet as anything."

One of the big talking points was when Olof Mellberg threw that ball and it went under Enckelman's foot. What are your memories of that?
"It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen in football. If you watched me, I'd turned away after he'd thrown it, to get back in position. We were 1-0 up at the time because Clinton (Morrison) has scored and I was thinking 'We've got to try and keep hold of this' because in derbies, it's usually a draw. So, I was running away and all of a sudden I saw the all fans jump up and the ball is in the back of the net and I'm thinking 'What's happened here?’ So that's gone in and then luckily for me Alpay (Ozturk) has tried to clear it and I've run him down and I managed to score my first Premier League goal against Aston Villa which I loved.”

You won the return game that season at Villa Park as well didn't you?
“Yes, I was sub again because (Steve Bruce) Brucie had dropped me. I was getting dog's abuse from the Villa fans, but I loved playing at grounds where I got stick. Me and Devs (Paul Devlin) were both subs. With Devs being a Blues fan, we both said we'll have a bit of a crack and wind their fans up a bit in the first-half. They were throwing everything at us, pies, bottles of pop. Fortunately for me I came on and went for the header and it went over my head and Stan (Lazaridis) scored the second goal. And then I managed to chase Enckelman down again and score in front of the Holte End. I was going to bend down and head it in, but I just thought if I do that I'll end up getting shot! So, I just put it in and started running. Big Dion getting sent off definitely helped us.”

That was the game you went in goal as well didn't you?
“Yes, with about 12 minutes to go. Unfortunately, Nico (Vaesen) snapped his cruciate. Me and Matthew Upson looked at each other and went over to Brucie and he said, 'You might as well go in and leave Matty at centre-half'. “

Had you played in goal before?
“No, except for maybe at school. I remember Benno gave me his shirt and I'm walking towards the goal and it just seems to be getting bigger and bigger!”

Did you have much to do much in goal?
“They had about three corners and I remember on the third corner, I said to Jonty (Damien Johnson) 'I'm coming for this one' but he warned me off and I stayed on my line. I always called him the silent assassin because you didn't want to mess with Jonty. In the end I kept a clean sheet, but I never got a bonus for that!”

Before those derby fixtures how did Steve Bruce motivate you?
“For the first one he didn't have to because Mellberg had done an interview where he said he'd never heard of Birmingham City or one of our players and if they got their minds right they'd beat Birmingham City convincingly. Brucie just said 'We've done all the pre-match and all the stuff on set-plays and read that' and he pinned it up. And all our lads were 'I'm not having this,' so that was all the motivation we needed. The second game he didn't need to motivate us because he knew what it meant to us to beat them at Villa Park.”

You played a few times for West Brom against Villa, didn't you?
“Yes, I did. When I'm in the pub with lads I always tell them I've never been beaten by Villa. When I was at Fulham in League One we beat them 2-0 at Villa Park in the FA Cup. Then with West Brom I think I played them four times and we didn’t lose.”

Going into this game, with Villa being at home and on the run of form they're the obvious favourites, aren't they?
“Of course they are, but you never know what's going to happen in a derby. A lot of my friends are Villa fans and they were calling for Brucies’ head three or four months ago but look how he's turned it round. I think they'll go up automatically. They're strong and have had a huge budget and have been able to bring in someone like John Terry with his experience, which was a great move by Brucie. Brucie is not stupid and I think he's been promoted four times. Six weeks ago I was dreading this game, but with the way we've picked up I think it will be a good game. We know it's going to be difficult, but we've got to get on the front foot and take the game to them. They've got some good players. (Scott) Hogan is on fire at the minute and scoring goals left, right and centre. I think most probably John Terry has got hold of (Jack) Grealish and said listen 'You can be a good player' and that's the experience that JT has brought. So yes, it's going to be difficult, but let's just hope we can keep it tight.”

GALLERY: A selection of images from Blues' first Premier League win at Villa Park.

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