Captain Micah Richards leads Villa’s celebrations after the League Cup win against Blues in 2015. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images.
Former Aston Villa defender and current pundit Micah Richards has revealed he was startled by the sheer hatred he experienced when he played in the Birmingham derby.
Talking on the Match of the Day Top 10 podcast with ex-England strikers Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer, Richards said he was taken aback by the desperation to win on both sides – from supporters in particular.
He said: “It was ferocious. I played in one derby for Villa – skipper in a 1-0 win.
“The fans…honestly…they’re as bad as Chelsea fans in these Birmingham derbies. It’s just sheer hatred.
“The fans take everything personally, especially in the week leading up to the game.
“The fans say to you, ‘just win this game, we don’t care about anything else’.”
Richards, who also played in Manchester derbies for City against United, added: “They’re the only games in my whole career I got nervous for. I was never nervous about anything else.”
When host Lineker revealed he had not witnessed an Aston Villa versus Birmingham City fixture in person, Richards said: “Go to one. You must!”
For obvious reasons, if Lineker does decide to take up the offer, he may have to wait a while!
Richards’ comments follow those made by former Villa midfielder Paul Merson several years ago when he too revealed he could not believe the levels of bitterness.
Merson said: “I’ve played in the North London derby for Arsenal against Spurs and those two do not like each other one bit. It’s a big fixture but, for levels of hatred and the atmosphere generated, it is not a patch on the Birmingham derby.”
Where did Blues against Villa rank in England’s top ten derbies on the podcast?
Richards ranked the Brum derby fifth with, unsurprisingly, the Manchester derby topping the pile in his view.
Shearer had the Second City derby in seventh place. Again, unsurprisingly, the Geordie had Newcastle versus Sunderland as high as second, below only Manchester United against Liverpool, who Shearer described as the country’s biggest two clubs.
Collectively, the trio agreed to place Manchester United versus Liverpool at the top of the pile.
What do you think? Is a fixture even a derby unless sides are from the same city? Reply and let us know your views.
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