The rivalry between Aston Villa and Birmingham City is known as the Second City Derby based on Birmingham being referred to as the second city of the United Kingdom. The two clubs are generally regarded as each other’s most fierce rivals.
The Second City derby has a rich and rocky history: it is English football’s equivalent of a clan dispute, passed on from generation to generation like the family silver. Like most local derbies, it is one that lives most vividly just not on the pitch, or even in the stadium, but in Birmingham’s surrogate battlegrounds: its shops and offices, its school playgrounds and building sites.
The first meeting between them was in 1887, which was won by Villa 1-0. There have been 127 meetings in major competition between the two teams since then, of which Aston Villa have won 57 and Birmingham City 38. In this article, we will look at some of the greatest Aston Villa vs Birmingham matches in 10 best Second City derbies ever.
Here are the ten best Second City derbies ever –
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10. Birmingham City 1-0 Aston Villa 
Jack Grealish’s 67th-minute winner settled an ugly derby, but this Aston Villa’s victory over Birmingham City will be remembered not for the goal but for an attack on the visiting skipper by a spectator from the home section.
Jack Grealish captained his boyhood club and scored the winning goal in a feisty and pulsating affair, but it was the actions of one man that stole all the headlines.
One of the home supporters ran onto the pitch just ten minutes in, heading straight for the Villa skipper. The spectator went up to Grealish and punched him from behind, before being immediately apprehended by security. While violence is an unfortunate sidenote in this derby, never had it been witnessed on the pitch towards one of the players quite like this.
9. Aston Villa 3-1 Birmingham City 
The Villans completed a Premier League double over the Blues thanks to one of the greatest goals scored in the history of the fixture. In only his fourth appearance for the club, 20-year-old Gary Cahill hit a spectacular volley past the despairing Maik Taylor with incredible skill.
Doing it in front of the Holte End was special; pushing Birmingham further into relegation trouble would have been even sweeter. The Blues eventually were relegated that season and would have to wait for their chance for revenge.
8. Aston Villa 0-2 Birmingham 
Villa were desperate to avenge their embarrassing defeat at St Andrews, earlier that season(mentioned later). However, they allowed their emotions to get the best of them as they finished the game with nine men. Robbie Savage antagonised Graham Taylor’s men all evening, leaving late tackles in at every occasion. The frustration proved too much for striker Dion Dublin who left a headbutt on the Welsh midfielder before Joey Gudjonsson was shown a straight red for a two-footed tackle.
7. Birmingham City 2-1 Aston Villa 
This win remains the Blues’ only victory over Villa since their Premier League scalp back in 2005, so it’s one of precious few memories for the club’s supporters. It would come during the 2010/11 League Cup, where a fifth round tie had the pair going head-to-head in the biggest match between the two in recent memory.
Sebastian Larsson gave Birmingham an early lead from the penalty spot after Richard Dunne had fouled Lee Bowyer, but Gabriel Agbonlahor grabbed a deserved equaliser for Villa before the interval.
Zigic thought he had extended the hosts’ advantage before Agbonlahor’s strike when his shot squirmed away from Villa keeper Brad Friedel – but as he claimed the ball had crossed the line a flag went up for offside.
Villa were the better side for long periods, but they failed to apply any sustained pressure on Blues keeper Ben Foster and paid the price for their lack of cutting edge as Nikola Zigic mustered one final foray into the Villa penalty box in the freezing conditions. Cameron Jerome’s low cross found the striker, and a fumbled, deflected effort somehow found its way beyond Brad Friedel to spark pandemonium at St Andrew’s.
Famously, the Blues would go on to lift the trophy that season, beating Arsenal in the final. Thus this game is remembered as one of the best Second City derbies ever.
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6. Aston Villa 2-2 Birmingham City 
Birmingham produced a dramatic comeback to earn a point and deny local rivals Aston Villa a fifth successive victory. This provided a dent in Villa’s hunt for European football that season
Darius Vassell had sought to maintain their winning run with a goal midway through the first half and, despite other glaring misses, Thomas Hitzlsperger added a second shortly after the restart with a thumping effort.
Seeking a route back into the game, Morrison set up Mikael Forssell to reduce the arrears, but the drama was set to play on until the very final minute.
Deep into injury time, Stern John popped up to pounce in the box and fire high into the roof of the net to send the away supporters in madness. A comeback goal to level the scores on your rivals’ patch, in the 94th minute, in front of the away fans? Doesn’t get much better than that.
5. Aston Villa 7-3 Birmingham (Newton Heath) 
Before they took on their current name of Birmingham City, the Blues went by the name of Small Heath (and Small Heath Alliance), but truth be told, in terms of their rivalry with Villa, it’s a name best forgotten.
They never got the better of their opponents during matches played under this name, with the most humbling of results coming way back in 1895. It was a League Division One fixture at the time, where a visit across the city saw Small Heath be on the wrong end of the highest-scoring fixture these two have ever taken part in.
Ten goals would be scored in a mad-cap game, but the result wasn’t too shocking. Villa would win the league that season meanwhile Small Heath would finish second bottom of the table, with the gulf in class between the pair painfully noticeable. Villa would also win the FA Cup that season.
4. Birmingham City 3-0 Aston Villa 
The first meeting in Premier League history between the pair ended in a crushing victory for the hosts, and was shrouded in controversy. Villa simply did not turn up and were completely overawed by the intensity of the clash. This fixture will always be remembered for a horrendous goalkeeping mistake by Peter Enckelman, who allowed a throw-in from Olof Mellberg to roll under his foot.
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3. Aston Villa 5-1 Birmingham City 
Both clubs were at contrasting positions during the 2007/08 season. Villa were flying high under Martin O’Neill, meanwhile Birmingham, under Alex McLeish, were in serious danger of being relegated to the Championship.
On display at Villa Park was an almighty humbling, as the home side wiped the floor with their rivals to inflict further damage to their top-flight ambitions.
Ashley Young and John Carew braces put Villa 4-0 in front, and despite Forsell’s consolation goal, Gabriel Agbonlahor had the final say with a late fifth. This result would go some way to relegating Birmingham, as they would finish in 19th and drop into the second tier.
2. Aston Villa 6-0 Birmingham City 
The first meeting of Blues and Villa in the League Cup, in 1963 final, was high-profile. The Blues had defeated their fiercest rivals 3-1 on aggregate. Thanks to the triumph over Villa Birmingham City clinched their first-ever domestic title in 1963.
Twenty-five years after Blues lifted their first silverware by beating their neighbours right at the business end of the tournament, the teams were paired at the less glamorous end of it – in the second round.
And in 1988, Villa took emphatic revenge as they came up against rivals not only a division below them but near the bottom of that division and struggling desperately. Aston Villa rolled over Birmingham City (6-0), with the team setting the biggest winning margin in the Second City derby.
1. Birmingham City 3-1 Aston Villa 
It was the League Cup final between the local rivals Aston Villa and Birmingham City. Aston Villa had won the inaugural competition in 1960–61, and had beaten Birmingham 4–0 in their most recent League meeting, while Birmingham were seeking to win their first major trophy.
The first leg took place on 23 May 1963 at Birmingham’s home ground, St Andrew’s. Birmingham took the lead when Harris fed Auld who crossed for Ken Leek’s powerful shot, but Aston Villa equalised via Bobby Thomson. Seven minutes into the second half, the same combination of players made it 2–1, and after 66 minutes Jimmy Bloomfield met a Harris cross to score off the post to give Birmingham a 3–1 lead.
The second leg four days later at Villa Park was goalless. With former England centre half Trevor Smith marking Thomson out of the game and Birmingham’s defensive tactics including regularly kicking the ball out for throw-ins, Aston Villa were unable to break their opponents down.