Birmingham City play Aston Villa on Sunday – live on talkSPORT 2 – and it’s set to be a cracker.
Both clubs are in the hunt for the play-offs so it’s sure to be feisty but one man knows rivalry better than most others.
Robert Hopkins is a Hall of Famer for the Blues given his two spells at the club in the 1980s but it wasn’t so easy for the midfielder at the start of his career.
Turned down by Birmingham City after a trial, he was heartbroken but ended up joining Aston Villa’s youth team and made his way up the ranks.
He told Birmingham City’s official website: “When I was at Villa I used to appease myself by carrying my boots in a Blues bag and wearing a Blues badge. I always wore something to do with Blues.
“When I was a kid you had to take your own boots, so I had a Blues bag and I’d wear my Blues socks. On matchdays, in the reserves and that, I’d wear my Blues badge under the Villa shirt.”
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He continued to do this even as an senior player but his spell as a professional at Villa Park wouldn’t last long – just three senior appearances, despite a goal with his first ever touch against Norwich City in a 2-0 win.
“Because I used to wear the badge under my shirt, a few people knew, but not many. The manager at the time was Tony Barton and he warned me not to wear it. I was playing Notts County away and my shirt ripped. It nearly caused a riot, because the Villa fans spotted it.
Live on talkSPORT
Birmingham City vs Aston Villa is live on talkSPORT 2 at 12:00 on Sunday, March 10.
“The move to Blues partly came about because of that incident. There was a big uproar about it. It was a fairly well-known thing but there was no Facebook, or Twitter, or any of that stuff at the time, it was just word of mouth. But people actually saw the badge then. So, Tony Barton said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ Luckily enough, Ron Saunders signed me a few months later.”
Hopkins never played for Villa again and was swapped for Alan Curbishley in March 1983, five months after the 4-1 loss away to Notts County.
It wasn’t the only trouble he got into though, Hopkins revealed in a later interviews with Joys and Sorrows, he revealed why he celebrated scoring against Birmingham City for fellow Midlands side West Brom.
He said: “I was getting dogs abuse and one fan spat at me. That really hurt and wound me up. So when I scored I went over to him to celebrate, I shouldn’t have done it but he gobbed at me.
“To be honest, I’ve never wanted to say that a Blues fan spat at me, but I do always get asked that question. Fans always say ‘you can’t be much of a Blues fan’ but now they know, perhaps they’ll accept it.”