When did you become a Villa fan and why?
Back in the early 80s. I was seven or eight at the time and vaguely recall the European Cup Final. My dad used to support Villa as a kid in the late 50/early 60s but switched to Wolves – WTF?! But he allowed my fascination with Villa to grow and took me to my first game in April 1984 – Watford, we won 2-1 and the rest is history!
What is your favourite Villa moment of all time/most treasured memory?
Standing on the Holte for the League Cup semi-final win over Tranmere in 1994. I went with dad (despite his weird Dingle tendencies, he has a soft spot for the mighty Villa) and it was mental. Total chaos. We ended up about 15 rows further forward at the end than we had started. I will never, ever forget the atmosphere that day.
If you could bring back a former Villa player into this team (at his peak) who would it be and why?
Gareth Barry, no question. Centre-half, left-back, centre-mid, versatility, ability and desire. Dean Smith would love him in his team.
How do you rate head coach Dean Smith’s time in charge so far?
Outstanding. From when he took over to now, the progress is nothing short of astonishing. And following the dismal run from January to March, we had no right to make the playoffs, never mind get promoted. I’d say we are now 12 months ahead of schedule, which is brilliant work.
Best and worst moments of last season?
Best: where to start?! Wembley? The comeback against Sheffield United? Jack’s goals against Rotherham and Derby? SJM’s strike against Sheffield Wednesday? Hutton’s waltzing through Small Heath to score at the Holte End? Jed Steer’s penalty saves?
All of the above were immense, but I’m actually going left-field: Albert’s goal against Leeds at Elland Road. By far the weirdest thing I have ever seen on a football pitch and will likely never see anything like it ever again.
Worst: Wigan was a low. The home defeat to the Baggies. Rodriguez’ handball goal. Seeing Steve Bruce loan out almost all of our defence.
Your opening opinions on Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens?
What’s not to like? They have money, business sense, have appointed the right people and are staying well and truly out of the limelight. No Twitter nonsense for them. They are just quietly getting on with the job.
Tyrone Mings has arguably been the standout loan signing, but we only have a matching offer clause. Would you break the proverbial bank to secure his signature or do you go for Tammy Abraham?
I’m not sure I’d break the bank, and I don’t think Purslow and NSWE will either, it doesn’t seem their style. I’m more than confident we’ll land him, it’s a matter of time. Tammy had an outstanding season but tailed off badly towards the end – maybe the injury knocked him about more than we realised? But I would happily see them both back with us on August 10th at Spurs.
Jack Grealish has proven himself to be a key man, how do you rate his development?
The effect he had on the team when he came back in March was remarkable. He had a fine season and was one of the standout players in the division. But his struggles at the business end, where he failed (imho) to stamp his authority on the playoff final, shows he still has some way to go. Hopefully the Premier League will offer him the chance to properly showcase his undoubted talents.
Player of the Year?
John McGinn or Tammy Abraham for me. I think McGinn was the most consistent performer, but his disciplinary record needs some work. Abraham’s goals were massive for us, despite his drop in form towards the end. Special mentions for James Chester for playing through the pain barrier until January and Jed Steer for his form since coming back from Charlton and finally being given a chance.
All-time favourite Villan?
Impossible to narrow it down to just one. Dennis Mortimer, Alan McInally, Garry Thompson, Paul McGrath, Mark Bosnich, Steve Staunton, Gareth Barry, Olof Mellberg, Ian Taylor, Dion Dublin, Juan Pablo Angel all spring immediately to mind. But I’ll go for Nigel Spink.
Hope’s for the coming campaign?
A comfortable finish (ie not getting bogged down in a relegation battle) and a couple of decent cup runs for a change.
One Bit Of Non-Football Wisdom For Us?
“The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.”
Take part yourself and read the other interviews below!