Byline: BRIAN HALFORD
DURING Charlie Aitken's long - record-breakingly long - career in Villa's defence he received many compliments.
Classy. Composed. Strong. Intelligent. Staggeringly consistent. Terrific club man - all these and more were used to describe his work through a club record 660 appearances between 1960 and 1976.
For well over a decade, left-back Aitken was part of Villa's defensive furniture.
Closing down, organising and tackling, snuffing out right-wingers then overlapping and getting forward to ping in crosses of his own.
Between April 1961 and May 1967 the Scot missed only 18 of Villa's 252 First Division games. He was a rock, with many attributes.
You wouldn't put goalscoring high among them though.
Those 660 games brought him just 16 goals - one every 62 hours of football. So it's probably safe to say that only once during Aitken's mighty career was his finishing compared to Tommy Lawton.
That was on December 18, 1971. Bolton were the visitors to Villa Park for a pre-Christmas fixture that Vic Crowe's side needed to win to cement their Division Three promotion drive. Twelve wins from 19 games was a strong foundation and they had just thumped Oldham 6-0 at Boundary Park (thanks to Andy Lochhead's hat-trick) and Bradford City 3-0 at home.
Next up, Jimmy Armfield's Bolton - and Villa were to need their unlikely goalscoring hero.
Perhaps distracted by the news that Jack Bodell had been knocked out by 'Spanish slugger' Jose Urtain in Madrid and was contemplating retirement, Villa started sluggishly.
Ian Seddon poked Bolton into an 11th-minute lead and it was not until Paddy McMahon, returning after four months out injured, adjusted to the pace of the game that Villa started to function.
They burst into life on the half-hour and scored twice in a minute. Lochhead headed his 15th goal of the season then flicked on a long punt from Jim Cumbes for Ray Graydon to score. …