To mark the 140th anniversary season of Aston Villa FC, My Old Man Said is 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 supporter issue of yester-year, 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 to MOMS on: [email protected]
In the latest Villa Fan Tale, Carl Chinn remembers his father Buck and his tireless work in establishing a supporter voice for Villa fans with their club.
Part 4 in a 140 part series: Carl Chinn
I was born a Villa fan. Our Mom came out of Whitehouse Street, Aston and was fiercely proud that she was an Aston Brummie. She was going down the match in the 1940s and told me tales of Johnny Dixon, Trevor Ford and Peter McParland. And when I felt the desolation of loss after loss she cheered me up by reminding me that in 1957 when the FA Cup winning team returned along the Aston Road North in triumph she had held me up as an eight-month old baby at the window of the club room in the ‘Albion’ pub to see the cup.
Our Nan also came out of Whitehouse Street and as a young wench in the early 1920s she had watched the likes of the prolific scorers Billy Walker and Pongo Waring, She went on to see all the greats of the pre and post-war eras. Our Nan defiantly asserted that Georgie Cummings was the only defender anywhere who Stanley Matthews was a feared of; and in our school holidays she’d have us traipsing up Corporation Street to the sports shop of Harry Parkes with whom she would have a banter.
Our Granddad Chinn came from Sparkbrook, a Blues area, but as a youngster at the turn of the twentieth century he used to walk to Villa Park. Because of Granddad’s allegiance to the Villa, Dad was a Villa fan as are most of my Chinn cousins.
First Villa match?
On Saturday, 17th September 1966 I stood as a ten-year old on the Holte End with Our Mom, Our Nan, Our Kid, Darryl, and less than nineteen thousand others and watched the Villa humbled 6-2 at home to Chelsea – a match in which Bobby Tambling scored five times.
First Villa boyhood hero?
Bruce Rioch: our best player in bleak years, a highly-talented midfielder with a terrifically powerful left-foot shot.
Ultimate Villa legend?
There are so many but if pressed to choose it would be Dwight Yorke,. His record was exceptional. He scored in 3–0 League Cup win against Leeds United and scored 97 times in 231 games and was the last Villa player to score in front of the old Holte End standing terrace. He also picked up our oldest daughter Tara when at Loftus Road as we arrived for the last matches of the 1992-93 season when we came so close to winning the League.
Favourite Villa memory?
Seeing Villa win the European Cup at Rotterdam in 1982.
Carl’s Villa Story…
Buck Chinn’s Quest for a Supporters’ Voice
Dad’s Dad used to walk to Villa Park from Sparkbrook and stand on the hill by Aston Hall to see the match in the gap between the Holte End and the Trinity Road. Later on Granddad saw the Villa play in the FA Cup Final in 1913 at the Crystal Palace when we beat Sunderland 1-0 and again in 1920 at Stamford Bridge when we beat Huddersfield 1-0.
Dad (Buck) started going down the Villa in the 1940s shortly after the war. He wasn’t able to go as much as he wanted to because Granddad was a street bookie and Dad worked for him. But then he started going down again regularly in the late 1960s, when me and Our Kid were young. Mom, Sylve, was a big Villa fan from Whitehouse Street, Aston and the four of us would go with our Mom’s Mom, Lil and a crowd of family and friends.
When Ron Saunders resigned in 1982 there was real uproar because in the previous season he had led us to the First Division title – the first for decades – and Villa supporters felt that he had been pushed out by the board. Dad called a meeting of protestors at the Royal Oak, Sparkbrook. A large crowd turned up and he was elected chairman of the new Aston Villa Democracy Group which arose from that meeting.
The initial aim was to get Ron Saunders reinstated. To that effect, leaflets were handed out at matches and a petition was drawn up. However, once Saunders went to Birmingham City as manager it was decided to carry on with the Group as it was felt strongly by all of us that the Board took no account of the wishes of ordinary fans and that it operated autocratically. Therefore it was agreed that we should fight for more democracy at Villa Park. We would do this by campaigning for a fan to be elected by democratic vote of season ticket holders on to the board, for the fans to have more say in the running of the club and for the club to think more about the fans.
This was obviously a pioneering group. A couple of years later Dad was elected chairman of the Aston Villa Shareholders Association and the members of the Democracy Group became members of that organisation. We brought with us our beliefs in more democratic structures at Villa Park and continued to campaign for those objectives through Dad. He led the association with passion and pride for over 20 years until a year or so before it was wound up after Randy Lerner became the owner of the club.
Dad always stood up for the grass roots fans both in the press and at AGMs and on one occasion he was voted on to the board by a big majority of the large crowd at that AGM. However Doug Ellis overturned the vote by demanding a count of the actual shares. The small shareholders had voted for Dad but had few shares; the large shareholders stuck by Doug Ellis.
Each season Dad arranged a sports forum when the manager would come and meet the shareholders and their families and he arranged trips to away matches. Most of all in his roles as chairman of the Democracy Group and then the Shareholders, Dad was the spokesman for their campaigns for the rights of the fans on the terraces and in the stands.
On their behalf, he called for the cost of season tickets to be spread over a season and wanted them to be interest free; he fought for concessions for students, the unemployed, and others; he continually spoke out for the need for lifts in the ground for the disabled, the infirm and the elderly; he strove to get the club to do more for fans in areas like Kingstanding and Wyrley Birch, he wanted them to reach out to the fans who came from further away like the Black Country, north Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire; he strove to get the Board to realise the importance of reaching out to the ethnic minority populations of Aston, Lozells, Newtown and Handsworth; and he battled to get the away fans from behind the goal at the Witton.
Dad always spoke up for the ordinary fans because he was an ordinary fan who sat with ordinary fans. He never sought any favours from the Club and nor would he have accepted them if they had been offered. That is why he kept the support and the respect of the members of the Democracy Group and the Shareholders’ association and many fans who did not belong to these groups. He was a true Villa fan.
Buck passed away, aged 78, on April 26th 2010 and hundreds of mourners attended the life-long Villa fan’s funeral shortly after.
Please send your Villa stories in to MOMS via email to: [email protected]