OriginalLondonLion posted this, but sort of asked me to consider it for an article.
I personally found it somewhat eye-opening and definitely worthy of a slot;
Since as you say there has been no game this weekend, but Crimea is currently in the news, allow me to reflect on Villa’s only game there.
1981 was in the Cold War era, Ukraine was a Soviet Union province and Dynamo Kiev were the Russian Champions. Villa’s away European Cup game was switched from frozen Kiev to the warmth of Sinferopol. The Russians would not allow any commercial operators to run trips so the only supporters who went were filling up the seats on the team plane, about 150 of us. First day while the team trained on the pitch the supporters had a coach trip to Yalta. I thought this would be a tedious journey, but no, with two motorcycle outriders and 3 police cars, the coach ran non stop at a minimum 50 mph all the way with every traffic light switched to green. So we arrived there: usual trash food in an enormous hotel, but we did get to sit at the conference table with the waxworks of Churchill Stalin Roosevelt and De Gaulle for a photo shoot. Tour of the botanical gardens then another express bus back. I could get used to that treatment of supporters club coaches.
The next morning there was a run to Balaclava to see the sight of the charge of the Light Brigade. I ducked it and found myself in our hotel lobby chatting to Gary Shaw and a lady from the British Embassy in Moscow. Pointing to one KGB goon she told us that was her personal goon who had followed her from Moscow. Gary said “So if we three walked out of the hotel he would follow you?” “Yes” she said “and two more goons will follow you two”. We tried it, the goons followed, we walked a flew blocks, split up and walked back, each followed by a KGB man.
After that is wasn’t a surprise to see at the match the front three rows of seats all the way round occupied by uniformed soldiers each with an AK47. No pitch invasions there.
As for the game, Kiev just could not cope with Tony Morley, who scored a hat trick without reply. Away teams were supposed to defend, but Villa went everywhere in that campaign to attack from the off in the away leg.
The shops were grim and empty, lit by weak fluorescent strip-lights, the overall impression was the Russians put on a front; they had the Army, the Nukes, the space race etc, but behind it a hollow existence.
My next trip to Anderlecht could not have been more different.