I was once asked in a press interview what it was about Aston Villa that I loved. My answer?
“It’s the everything.”
Aston Villa gave me something when I had nothing. I’ll forever love it for that.
Some of you will know I’m rather keen on the worthy things that Aston Villa do. Of course, I want a winning team, but we’ve not had much luck in that department so I just pray about that, shout, bang the boardings supporting the team when at the game and feel there isn’t much more apart from moving my fingers quickly typing my opinions, that I can do! It’s to the club’s shame that they’ve never hired me as manager I am sure you all (sic) agree (no?!) I did actually apply once, when Doug was in charge, I wanted £50 000 a year, steel capped boots to kick the players up their backsides and cotton wool to put in my ears so he could talk and I’d nod without knowing what I was actually agreeing with. To this day it amazes me I never got the call for the interview!
Where was I? Oh yes, worthy things. Despite all the turmoil and disappointments we’ve suffered in recent times, we have had a few things that have made me very proud of ‘my’ club. The things that have made me stick my chest out and focus my pride on. A theme of my life, especially through the more testing times (which is most times!) is to not miss the moments, the details, the small things. Focus on the negative and you are done for. Here endeth todays lesson.
So, here are a few things that I think have been fantastic for our most storied of clubs.
The Acorns sponsorship on our shirts and the association with them. That was a great source of pride for most of us wasn’t it? Randy did a lot wrong at the end of his regime, sadly that means people forget (understandably) he did a hell of a lot right at the start of his time here. A bit of history: https://www.acorns.org.uk/about-acorns/partners/avfc/
Vital Villa played its part in this with some fundraising. Way back when I was able to report: Vital Villa Lions Club won the Acorns 1874 Challenge for raising the most money for Acorns this year. Chuffed. Just wish I’d been well enough to be at the event to pick up the award. I was there is spirit at least! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/vitalvilla We raised £5,563.36.
Villa Midlands Food (VMF) Another thing that made me proud was VMF which I know I drove some mad talking about so much. That was a special and worthy project, helping give some of the underprivileged ‘kids’ from the area a step up in life and you could see their transformations in front of your very eyes over the weeks and months of their training. Then in came Tom Fox and he ripped it all apart. It was at the time the only thing I loved about Villa and it was helping so many youngsters. Yes, it was run at a loss, but it was a charitable thing and cost less in a year than the wages for one week of a player.
I was lucky enough to have a small role in this, not least in eating loads of the great food they served. Alison Plant, former head of catering (ridiculously removed under the Fox regime despite the many awards her department and she were winning for catering and hospitality) was the main person pushing it forward, it was a fabulous setup. I was also so confident of VMF that I told the folks in the forum if they went on my recommendation, I’d pay their bill if they didn’t like it. I didn’t have to pay for one single bill.
Young Mo (Moin Younis): https://astonvilla.vitalfootball.co.uk/vital-villa-backs-the-moin-appeal-please-help/
The Lions And Legends, established by King Ken McNaught. Now called, (I think) The Former Players Club. I say I think because I can’t find anything about it on the woeful to navigate official site. There is so much more the club can and hopefully will do with our legends. It’s been an honour and privilege for me to get to know some of our legends I must say. But so many of our former players make me proud, especially those that talk of us with such reverence and fondness. From Sir Dennis of Mortimer, Sid Cowans, Tony Morley, Ken et al, all the way through to the modern giants like Ian Taylor, Olof Mellberg, Martin Laursen, Gareth Barry and on I could go. And also to Stiliyan Petrov, who manfully fought his illness and then fought back setting up his own foundation. That’s the way to answer ill health. (A funny little aside. My mate Reza is mates with Stan. We went to the players box the one day for them to meet up. I said to Reza I’d stay downstairs out of the way, doing what I do running a website, I didn’t feel comfortable up there having done it a few times and especially as we weren’t playing well at the time and we were being critical of their effort on here! So off he went. Next minute Stan came down as Reza had told him I was downstairs and he knew at the time of his fight I had also managed to have 15 months fighting my health issues not really knowing if I was going to get through or not. We had a quick chat, and then the whole team started to come out of the dressing area heading to the players box, all then said hello to Stan and I was caught right in the middle of it, shaking hands and saying hello to all of the team (who’d just lost) that I’d thought best to steer clear of).