Football News

Steve Bruce reflects on ‘unsavoury’ cabbage incident ahead of Aston Villa return

By Ben Green

Published: 13:17, 25 November 2019

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has described his acrimonious Aston Villa exit as “one of the most unsavoury times” of his managerial career. 

His dismissal came in October 2018, just five months after defeat in the Championship play-off final, with the final few throes of his reign culminating in a fan throwing a cabbage at him.

What is the ‘cabbage incident’? Five things to know…

  • Bruce guided Villa to the Championship play-off final in 2017/18, losing 1-0 to Fulham.
  • However, just five months later he was sacked with Villa sitting 12th in the table.
  • The club experienced financial issues over the 2018 summer, which Bruce has since described as difficult to work within.
  • During his final game in charge – a 3-3 draw with Preston – a fan threw a cabbage in his direction.
  • Bruce has now called the final few days of his Villa stint as “one of the most unsavoury times” of his career.

The incident has since turned into an epitaph for Bruce’s stint in the Villa Park dugout, and he will now return to his old stomping ground on Monday night as the Magpies clash with Villa in the Premier League.

Bruce described the infamous cabbage incident as “disrespectful” and a damning indictment on society at the time, and now a year on, he continues to question the fan’s motivation behind throwing the leafy green vegetable in his direction.

“The fans can throw some things, but a cabbage?” Bruce told the BBC.

“I went the next day so I didn’t have time to get angry. It was one of the most unsavoury times of my career.”

Bruce’s successor Dean Smith will lock horns with the ex-Villa man on Monday night, but even he was sickened by the events that took place during his predecessor’s final game.

“I thought it was a disgrace,” Smith said of the cabbage incident.

“I have an awful lot of respect for what he has done in management but, more importantly, for how he is as a man.”

Bruce recalls Villa financial problems

Having masterminded a Championship play-off final appearance in 2017/18, in which Villa lost 1-0 to Fulham at Wembley, Bruce soon found the club to be operating in very difficult circumstances.

Villa encountered a change of ownership that summer and were plunged into financial crisis amid reports of a missed tax payment, which Bruce has since described as “the most difficult six weeks” following the play-off final.

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He said: “We didn’t know if we were going to get paid in May and June. It was practically close to the wall.

“It never got that far but there was a threat at the end of the month that we couldn’t pay the wages.

“It was the worst and probably the most difficult six weeks after the play-off game, it was unrivalled from where we were.”