[quote_center]’We are Villa Till We Die and we know that this means oh so much more than ‘Villa Till I Sell’ or ‘Villa Till I’m Sacked’ ever will.'[/quote_center]
To mark the 140th anniversary season of Aston Villa FC, we’re asking 140 Villa supporters of all ages to come forward and tell their Villa story. First there will be five standard questions to answer, then you can tell your tale, whatever it is. It could be the full tale of how you got into supporting Villa, it could be your Top 10 favourite player list, it could be the tale of your favourite away day, a funny meeting with a Villa player or your favourite Villa story that you’d roll out if you bumped into another Villa fan in a bar on holiday.
So please do send your Villa stories in (they don’t have to be as long as this one!). Email MOMS on: [email protected]
Part one in what hopefully will be a 140 part series is a beast of a story spanning over 50 years. Surreal in parts, poetic and inspiration in others and a tour-de-force trip down memory lane, it charts the essence of what it is to be a Villan and why the club’s recent seasons haven’t been good enough. Enjoy. UTV.
Part 1 in a 140 part series: Kezz Furber
MOMS: Why Villa?
Kezz: Dad was a Villa fanatic too – it’s in the DNA – and it helped that we lived a few miles away in Curdworth.
First Villa Park match?
Is the one I wrote about below – 5/9/64 at home v Blackburn Rovers. We lost 0-4!
First Villa hero?
Willie Anderson – the poor man’s George Best (a Man Utd cast off too) – and probably the 1,005th Beatle! Promised much, rarely delivered, but he did his best out on the wing – and occasionally showed a clean pair of heels to an opposing full back! When my footy playing mates were George Best, Denis Law or Jimmy Greaves, I was always Willie Anderson. They thought I was mad.
Ultimate Villa legend?
Ron Saunders. What more can you say? He was a genius of a manager – an inspiration to players and fans alike – with a sense of humour drier than the Sahara in July. He should have gone on to become our Busby, our Shankly or our Ferguson. Both of his great sides had flair, guts, balance and an innate will to win. Villa Park has rarely rocked its socks off like it did in the days of Saunders. Even today, I’m still shocked at the manner of his leaving.
Favourite Villa memory?
Being there at Rotterdam has to be the one to crown them all. Hungover, dehydrated, near death – the whole day and journey home on the coach were surreal – and even now, it seems like a dream. Ron Saunders built that side from scratch – no superstars, but just like his previous side, they all became legends. Such a pity Ron had quit only weeks before that most massive night in our club’s history.
Kezz’s Villa Story…
A View From The Allotment
It’s happy birthday time for Aston Villa! 140 years young, 140 years of sensational achievements, punctuated by occasional periods of heartbreaking mediocrity or worse – and a 57 year gap since we last put a finger on the FA Cup – the only meaningful trophy we’ve failed to win during my 50 years as a fanatical Villan.
My time has a fan has been has been a white knuckle ride of extreme ups and downs – the ups being some of the greatest moments in my life, the downs being little more than blips that eventually turned into yet more glories – with heroic players, managers and supporters coming together as one to overcome adversity and add the name of Aston Villa yet again to the honours lists of world football. Here are some views from the Claret & Blue roller coaster.
50 years ago this past September, a wide-eyed young lad, 6 years of age, clutched his dad’s hand, walked tentatively up a flight of concrete steps, and out onto the Witton Lane end at Villa Park. It was his first time through the turnstiles. He will never forget it. In that moment, he saw the brightest vision he’d ever seen, so bright that it had been awarded colour – and that colour was claret & blue, along with white shorts – shorts more white than Persil’s brilliant white could ever dream of. And at our heart was a lion, and the lion was made of Gold!
Scarves, hats and rosettes, all in this beautiful claret & blue, adorned so many of the people he could see, and it was clear to the lad that claret & blue were the two best colours ever invented by God, and that the white of our shorts was easily the third, and that the lion of Gold was better than all of that. And these people made a noise like the multitude he’d recently learned about in scripture class at school. It was the noise of an all-powerful sea; the noise of the fiercest wind; the noise of every factory. These were the noises of men, Aston Villa men – and there were thousands of them.
Villa lost 0 – 4 to Blackburn Rovers on that boy’s first day, but it did not matter. The boy knew he had Aston Villa running deep within his blood and deep within the history of his bones. He returned home after the match. It was still light. He found his lace-up football and went out into the street, on his own, where he replayed the whole game, right there, within his head.
This time Villa didn’t lose – not a chance of it. Blackburn were smashed, annihilated, destroyed. 10-0 to us in a valiant Villa victory, a victory that would live with him forever!
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m certain that this has been a similar experience for the vast majority of youngsters, including the ones we all once were, upon visiting Villa Park for the very first time. Aghast! Astonished! Amazed! Hold on to that thought.
Villa Journey Begins…Floodlights!
Back at Villa Park, three or four games deeper into the season, colder weather had begun to snap in. Most of the kids at the ground, including him, only had a school mac as a coat. Materially, they were too thin to keep out the cold and the gloves of the day were never too thick to keep in the warm – and neither was the Bovril.
The child learned that the team he’d been chosen for, was not doing very well at all. Games were being lost against far too many mediocre opponents; Manchester United had just thrashed us 7-0 away, and the boy heard people muttering their dissatisfaction about the club’s then manager, Dick Taylor. The departure of the previous manager, someone named Joe Mercer, was increasingly becoming a woeful lament amongst the faithful. Those children quickly learned the importance of losing, and more importantly, would soon learn the importance of not losing.
As darker nights drew their veil upon those once warming, Saturday afternoons, a new phenomenon shone even more brilliantly upon the already brilliant scene: Floodlights! Astonished, the boy, and hundreds of similar boys, would have done anything to be in the never-never glow of those lights, whether half freezing to death, or not. The claret and blue and white was the colour of Heaven under those lights! They all knew, that despite the frosted skin and knifing chilblains, they would all live to see another day, although on some days, they also knew that they just might not. And on those days, their parents, faces and hands reduced to paler shades of claret and darker shades of blue, took them home early, grudgingly – but grateful, back to the warmth of the fire, the black & white telly and its teleprinter – broadcasting England’s football results deep into the new discovery of outer space.
Villa had lost again, but Christmas was coming, and those boys prayed that Santa would bring them a Villa shirt instead of a toy, a Villa scarf to keep out the devil, and a much needed win for the team. For this is how it was.
Time passed. Nothing seemed to change much. The boy knew that the team needed him in their side (he was still a boy after all). But when all was said and done, he hadn’t lost a single game against his friends, not when he was Aston Villa anyway.
That Other Team…
Some of the other boys in the area followed another team. He’d heard a man at Villa Park call this team “Birmingham Shi**y”. His dad said the man shouldn’t have said that in front of women and children, but the boy knew that the man was right.
The Birmingham Shi**y boys were different to the Villa ones. They were losers and we were winners, even though we didn’t seem to be winning at all. But it was worse for them: they were losers – even when they’d won. All that they lived for was to beat Aston Villa, but we knew that there was far more to aim at in the world of football, than just that. You will all know exactly what I mean.
Click ‘Next’ for Page 2 of Kezz’s Villa Story