Tuesday, September 27, 2016

27 September 1879 - The Birth Of The Birmingham Derby

On 27 September 1879, Birmingham City hosted the first Birmingham derby, beating Aston Villa by the score of 1-0. Since then, Villa has gotten the better of their crosstown rivals, winning the greater share of the teams' 120 meetings.

For that first match, Birmingham were still going by their original name, Small Heath Alliance (pictured). The contest was played at their Muntz Street ground, which drew heavy criticism for Villa players as being "only suitable for pot-holing."

The first competitive match in the derby came in the FA Cup in 1887, with Villa taking a 2-1 victory. Out of their 120 total matches, 52 have gone to Villa and 38 to Birmingham City, with 31 draws. The derby's top scorer is Villa's Billy Walker, who found the net 11 times between 1919 and 1934. City's top scorer is Joe Bradford, with 8 goals from 1920 to 1935.

Several players have switched teams over the years, including a few who moved directly from one team to the other. The highest profile switch came in 1986, when Villa great Dennis Mortimer (who won the European Cup with Villa in 1982) joined Birmingham after a season at Brighton & Hove Albion.

Managers have also made the crosstown move, starting in 1982 when Villa manager Ron Saunders joined Birmingham. In 2011, manager Alex McLeish left Birmingham for Aston Villa after Birmingham were relegated from the Premier League. Villa were relegated in 2016 and the next-scheduled meeting is October 30 in the Championship.

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