Date:Friday October 17 2008
During my walkabout in Birmingham >>Click Here>> I bumped into 'The Fear' leader of the notorious Vital Villains. Armed with nothing more than mutual respect for each others clubs we sat down and chewed the fat about the love of our teams and tomorrows fixture. Here's what he had to say in response to my interrogation.
Tell us a little about yourself (How long have you been supporting Villa, do you attend Villa Park on a regular basis ..etc…)
Well, I'm 5' 10', Aquarius, very very handsome, charming, incredibly funny and obviously modest to a fault!!!! Oh hang on, you mean tell you about me as a fan!
1977 (I think) was my first game, went with my dad and brother and sat in the upper Trinity, the old lovely stand, was 8 and I can still remember the excitement and sounds (the old trinity upper was great, when people stamped their feet the wood used to make a superb noise. Also the chap next to me was shouting so loudly that his false teeth fell out. I'd never seen anything like it! It was against Everton, can't remember the players but we went 1 up and ended up losing 2-1. Still, although in those days my dad worked 6 day weeks so could rarely take us, I was sold!
What is your greatest moment as a Villa fan?
Essay time, but then, you did ask:
Playing subuteo as preparation for THE final and then that shin at the end. My dad nearly had a cardiac arrest! Most memories of Villa are great ones though, even the awful protests etc did have their funny or interesting moments. I just love the vibe. Probably the most memorable was going to watch Villa play on New Years day v Blackburn (think) in 1994 just 5 days before a brain op. It was against doctors orders but I just thought sod it, it might have been my last so I might just as well have gone. It was a rubbish game if memory serves me right as well, which in fairness, it probably doesn't.
Oh, and taking a call from Graham Taylor and Randy Lerner were memorable as was meeting Ian Taylor,The General and getting to know Dennis Mortimer. THE memory of being a Villa fan for me was the last game of the season before last v Sheffield United, the team of 82 paraded around the ground (we all had those scarves and the atmosphere was electric as anyone who was there will remember) anyway, Dennis Mortimer and the team had their photo taken near the dug out and then he walked off the pitch to bring the cup over and have a chat, shake my hand. That was special for me. I am a bloke, I don't cry, but feck me I was choked that he would have thought to do that. Still, he is a true gent and a top class bloke. Most of us Villans are!!
Who is your favourite Villa player of all time?
So many, can't pick out just one. I loved Dwight Yorke playing for us, such a shame how sour it all turned the way he left. All of the team of 82 are so very special, Paul McGrath was a God amongst men, Andy Townsend was also a favourite, sod it, 99% of those who put on the claret and blue!
Who is the better manager O'Leary or O'Neill?
LOL. DOL by miles for the insults to the fans, splitting yet another dressing room and being a right miserable sod! DOL just doesn't seem to be a nice person basically, although when he first came he did have us playing fairly good football with the limitations we had at the time under Doug but he simply never felt like a Villa manager. I bet he'd have been in his oil tot now though with the money available! MON has the chance to be a legend if he pulls off some silverware for Villa.
Following last weeks UEFA draw, how do you rate your chances of progressing?
The honest answer is I have no idea. It will depend which Villa turn up. The draw was such an average game (as was our loss to QPR) and although changes were made to the line ups for both games, the team out there still should have had enough to win and win comfortably. That said, the job was done away from home and we qualified for the group stages, so it would be churlish to complain. As to how far we could go? We could go all the way if the 'all guns blazing' Villa turn up to each and every game. If they 'do a Chelsea' and don't turn up, then they'll soon find themselves out of Europe.
What's is like being owned by an American Businessman - Has Randy Lerner delivered on his promises?
Randy is an adopted Brummie now! He is also used to England having studied and worked here, so it isn't as if he is a niave Mike Ashley sort who comes just for the money and ego. Randy isn't the sort to want to be 'Mr Aston Villa' and after our last Chairman, that is a very good thing. If it was me I'd be being pulled around Villa Park in a gold chariot pulled by vestile virgins... then again, I'm an idiot! He has delivered on his promises, not that he has shout from the rooftops about things, he has just assembled the right people around him to transform Villa back to where we were. It will take time but there are real signs of progress and he has backed the manager on every request for players, can't ask for more than that really. He is also a true gentleman, which is nice.
What advice would you give to Pompey fans travelling to Villa Park for the game?
Leave your fecking bell at home...! Official travel advice from Villa will be put up on your site this week for those driving.
What's the one song we are guaranteed to hear from the Holte End on Saturday?
The Paul McGrath song, 'On the p*ss my lord' and unfortunately also one about our local rivals Blues. I can't understand why the Holte sing about them when we aren't playing them to be honest, maybe I'm just from a different generation! :o)
Early days I know, but who would you consider to be your best summer signing?
James Milner I think will blossom at Villa and prove to be a very astute buy. Carlos Cuellar from Rangers is also touted as top talent and I think has now wrestled the place alongside Martin Laursen away from Curtis Davies, although I could be totally wrong because there isn't a man alive who could second guess Martin O'Neill I don't think!
Villa won the race against Pompey to sign Nicky Shorey, is he worth the money?
Time will tell. Some are on his back but I think he'll slot in and we needed cover after Wilfred Bouma picked up his horrific injury. I do think that Shorey looks decent distributing the ball and going forward, I am all for giving him a good chance.
If you could pick one Pompey player to play for Villa who would it be and why?
Jermain Defoe. Why? Because you asked! Seriously, if we'd gone for him (I know for a fact we didn't go in and bid) I think he might have been the difference between 4th and our eventual finishing place, 6th. He might be a bit of a big time Charlie but I think he'd have fit in very nicely with the likes of Ashley Young and Barry and think he'd have jumped at the move. He showed for England the other day why, he gets a chance, he takes it and can score out of nothing, exactly what we need. Baffling MON didn't think so but then MON is the manager and he knows what he wants, it is easy for us lot to play at it as our jobs aren't on the line!
Having only scored once since his opening day hat-trick has Agbonlahor gone off the boil ?
Gabby is nowhere near the finished product. He is young and learning and some fans forget that. He can look lazy at times but then, strikers like Robbie Fowler never exactly looked like they did much but when they got a chance they took them. He has improved season on season, if he can continue that and also not become a superstar in his own head he'll do fine (some of the stories of the off field stuff leave a lot to be desired, you either want to be a top professional or a playboy, you can't do both... or in my case, you can't do either!)
What's your current opinion of ex-Villain Peter Crouch ?
Surprised in one way that we didn't go for him in the summer, I thought he'd be exactly MON's sort of player, but then with him coming from Liverpool and them after Gareth Barry, I think it would have been very difficult to have bid for him. I have mixed feelings but do like the fact he always gives 100% and he can certainly play the ball on the ground nicely. I think you have a good partnership with him and Defoe.
Who is the one Pompey player you feel can do you the most damage on Saturday?
Defoe for the reasons stated above.
Apart from an embarrassing Carling Cup defeat to QPR, Villa have not lost at home this season, do you see that changing on Saturday?
Pompey are a team who will be there, or there abouts at the end of the season, so we HAVE to beat you at home if we have real ambitions of the top four or five. Will we? No idea, it is a game, in my opinion, that is evenly matched and could easily go either way. Villa will need to be totally on their game, if they are, then yes, we will remain unbeaten.
Realistically, what do you expect the score to be?
8-0. I don't deal in reality!
What are your hopes for this season ? (What would you class as a success or disaster)
I think we could do well in the UEFA Cup but feel we might be a striker short (maybe January will change that?) of winning, but it isn't out of the question. Success, good cup runs and top 6. Disaster, to lose in the group stages of the UEFA, to have another rubbish cup exit in the FA Cup and to finish outside the top 6.
Where would you expect to see Pompey finish come May?
So there you have it. With the exception of the 8-0 prediction a very good and grounded account from one of Villa's most ardent supporters and a 'bloody nice bloke'
To view what I had to say ahead of the game go to: www.astonvilla.vitalfootball.co.uk
Date:Friday October 17 2008
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