Date: 5th November 2005 at 5:07pm
Written by:

It was never quite like Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim you understand but once upon a time, childhood Christmases stood as a singular oasis of plenty on the calendar. In those days, when few kids really expected to get what they wanted and the prejudice prevailed that those who did, were brattish and spoilt, Christmas was still something to look forward to, out of sheer hope
more than genuine expectation. I seem to remember that there was an adult conspiracy in play, to delay all gratification until a very distant Christmas, even when the treasure of your heart’s desire was declared in

Of course, by the time Christmas actually arrived, you had completely forgotten what you wanted back in January, or the fad for hula-hoops or yo-yos was over and it was just too sad to even contemplate. But still, you could always fall back on the consolation of your own ascetic virtue and the sure knowledge that the kid who had everything was doomed to a life of greed and viciousness, which were, you were constantly told, the natural consequences of being ‘spoilt’, or basically, getting what you wanted.

Hoping without expectation was considered a laudable virtue, in those days.

Occasionally and I mean occasionally, adult consistency, under an attack of manic extravagance, would breakdown and you would find yourself returning from a shopping trip, clutching some item you had expressed a miserable
desire for (well, some kids did anyway) and having got it, you had to face up to the consequences of getting what you wanted – G…U…I…L…T spells guilt.

Yes, having entirely internalised the propaganda, that getting what you wanted was certain to lead you to hell in a handcart, meant that that half-crown’s worth of Hong Kong’s finest plastic, could only make you feel
just a bit selfishly indulgent and miserable. Freakishly, actually getting what you wanted, reinforced the concept that its always best to travel in hope rather than to arrive and that gratification should be habitually postponed until Christmas – this Christmas, next Christmas or that Christmas which never actually arrives.

Of course those whose childhoods were replete with cabbage patch dolls, Buzz Lightyears and Etch-a-sketchers and who possibly never experienced the
delight of being presented with an orange for Christmas, as if it was something special, will probably explain that despite their parents sleeping outside the toyshop to get them their seasonal fad, they never actually got
what they really-really wanted, as they actually didn’t want the Action Man or the Transformer but only ever wanted the dream, or, failing that, a real AK-47 or a pair of fully-functioning hover-trousers;and therefore they were as disappointed as everyone else. Deprivation is always relative – yeah, right!

Getting your mom, dad and even granny with her bad hip, to sleep on the pavement, must have been pretty good though.

So it is not surprising that some Villa fans, having waited for what seems like forever for Ellis to sell-up, are experiencing mixed feelings of dread and wild fantasy, as they contemplate the reportedly imminent
multi-million pound takeover. Suddenly it seems they are about to get what they have always wanted and wonder if it really is good for them or having wished for it for so long, whether they are about to be punished. Simply
substitute ‘parent’ for Doug, ‘child’ for fan and ‘spoilt’ for Leeds and you’ve got it exactly.

Some fans can’t be deterred from reeling off endless lists of the world’s finest players, as they build their fantasy teams, while others groan on about asset-strippers and the possibility of Villa playing their home
games at the local park, after the Tame is diverted to turn Villa Park into a designer docklands development. But between the two extremes the shared view is that David O’Leary will don his bicycle-clips and ride off into the sunset, in search of another bunch of honest lads.

I have to admit that both outlooks seem highly flawed and that David, who was described by the same set of fans a couple of months ago, as the best the club is likely to attract, could still enjoy that status once its
discovered, just how hollow the consortium’s promises are. So we can’t be too enthusiastic about filling out his p45 just yet. And lets be honest – it wouldn’t be cheap. So personally, I will be concentrating on David’s many attributes until Mourhino is prized away from Chelsea, with the promise of a decent wage.

My only actual solution to Villa’s present poor form, would be for these Irish builders to use their contacts within the trade, to try and get Slab Murphy to give the visitors a team-talk when they come to Villa Park – now
that might work.

But as for hopes and expectations for the forthcoming Villa Christmas, I expect I’ll get a worn-out Action Man with a gammy knee and I will be just left to hope that those fully-functional hover-trousers will arrive next
year, or the year after.

You guessed it – the same as it ever was.

By Steve Wade