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When Villa defied the Nazis' might.

I AM unfamiliar with the irresponsible 'Nazi gesture' made by West Bromwich Albion footballer Nicolas Anelka, but the club has acted swiftly in disassociating itself from the offensive salute and in getting the player to agree not to repeat the 'la quenelle' goal celebration again.

Hopefully, this unfortunate incident can now be laid to rest and can serve as a warning to all involved in the game that racist behaviour of any description will not be tolerated.

This fracas reminded me of a story told me by my late Uncle Hugh, an avid Aston Villa supporter, who watched Villa all over the country in the 1930s, about when Villa defied Hitler and Nazi Germany. The Villa 1938 tour of Nazi Germany was just before the England national team played Germany in the 1936 Berlin Olympic stadium and the players, on the advice from the Foreign Office, were pressurised to give the Nazi salute in front of over 100,000 Germans.

The following day Aston Villa faced a German X1 and received the same Foreign Office advice to placate Hitler and his cohorts but to the enormous chagrin of the Foreign Office, the Nazi party and government-controlled Nazi media, Jimmy Hogan's boys in claret and blue refused and just to rub it in won the game 3-2. My uncle Hugh also told me that the Villa players also refused to give the Nazi salute in the next game and instead protruded two metaphorical fingers.

Hugh was a great admirer of the Villa full back George Cummings, not just because he gave the Nazis a two-fingered salute but because he was the only full back who ever neutralised the legendary wizard of the wing, Stanley Matthews. Hugh said there was nothing particularly sophisticated about hard man Cummings' tactics when dealing with Matthews.

He would just kick Matthews...

hard. Peter Henrick. Northfield
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 10, 2014
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