Yesterday’s Aston Villa-Preston match was a thriller that ultimately ended in tragedy for the Villans. Though it must have hurt to watch the ball bulge the back of their net three times in the disappointing 3-3 draw, the spheroid that arguably caused Villa the deepest psychic injury was the head of cabbage an angry fan in the stands heaved at manager Steve Bruce before the match began.
Though they currently find themselves mired in the second division, Aston Villa are actually one of the bigger clubs in England. Not that long ago you could count on them for an easy top-half finish in the Premier League every year, and they were candidates for the “Best of the Rest” distinction more often than they were participants in the relegation race. However, due mostly to club mismanagement and shaky finances, the Villans got themselves sent down to the Championship in 2016, and they haven’t returned.
Because of this mismanagement and the relegation it doomed the club to, Villa fans have existed in a more or less constant state of rage and frustration for the better part of a decade now. This season is no different. The manager, Steve Bruce, might have coached the lads to the final of the promotion playoffs last year, but with the team now putzing around in the lower half of the table, the Villa faithful are making sure Bruce can feel the temperature of his seat climb to uncomfortable levels.
Hence the chucking of the cabbage. Bruce was asked about the brazen (though healthy) act of disrespect after the match, and he was appropriately dispirited:
“To say it’s disappointing is an understatement for a club like this, [the cabbage was thrown] before we had even started,” the 57-year-old Bruce said post-match.
“The guy who is being questioned…unfortunately, it sums up the society we are in at the moment. There’s no respect for anyone.
“Certainly for someone like him, I’m surprised he knew what a cabbage was. I find the whole thing hugely disrespectful.”
Though the lone vegetable hurler tossed the plant before the match began, it’s probably safe to say the entire stadium would’ve rained produce down onto the pitch by the end of the match if they’d been similarly armed. Villa jumped out to what seemed a comfortable 2-0 lead early on, only to then give up three unanswered goals after halftime. Aston Villa kept pushing for what would’ve been a much-needed win, however, and leveled the game at three goals apiece with a stoppage time effort from Yannick Bolasie. It looked like Villa’s blushes would be spared when the referee awarded them a penalty at the very end of the game, but Preston’s keeper saved the would-be winner. The match looked good at the beginning, only for the viewing experience to become more and more miserable the deeper into it you got—not unlike the experience of eating a whole head of cabbage.
Both the club and local police are on the hunt for the person who threw the cabbage, though presumably their time would be better spent looking for a manager and/or new players who won’t inspire such bewildering attacks in the future.
Update [12:46 p.m. Eastern]: Looks like Villa took our advice, as they’ve just announced that they’ve fired Bruce. Getting the cabbage and the sack in a 24-hour stretch. A rough day.