This latest Aston Villa Fan Tale is by Stuart Young who runs Villa fan website avillafan.com. It’s not easy finding the time to run a Villa website, as MOMS will testify to, but Stuart does a cracking job of providing a useful and welcoming portal for Villa fans to interact.
A disciple of Mr Paul McGarth and an admirer of Gareth Barry, Stuart’s story tells of what it is that keeps him going, when other people ask, ‘Why waste your money on Aston Villa?’ When their interest and passion in the club is overtaken by stuff like wives, jobs, mortgages and kids.
If you have any Villa tales that describe the essense of supporting Aston Villa FC, answer the below five questions and then tell your tale and send it to MOMS at: [email protected]
Part 7 in a 140 part series: Stuart Young
I like most come from a family of Aston Villa supporters and grew up just 3 miles away from Villa Park. Not many of my family are what you would call ‘die-hard supporters’ and tend to just look out for the results but being completely football mad at such a young age both me and my brother was always going to be different.
My Dad (separated from my Mom at a young age) and his side of the family are Birmingham supporters and always tried to persuade me, with him once promising a ‘Season ticket for life’ if I went to St Andrews with him but I just laughed it off and the rest is history really.
First Villa match attended?
I always feel bad because I couldn’t tell you what my first game was. Most fans tend to be able to do this but for some reason It’s not there with me.
My earliest memories of games I attended always included a game against Everton on a hot afternoon which was delayed for about 15-20minutes but I don’t remember why and a game against Leeds United, in which my uncle (in the stands) was trading friendly banter with Stan Collymore (on the pitch) and Stan ran over laughing while winking at me.
First Villa hero?
Only one answer for me here. Paul McGrath. As a youngster I was a center-half and I used to always look up to McGrath as someone I aspired to be.
He never did anything fancy, he kept it simple and it was how I was taught to play from my own coaches. He was a rock in the heart of Aston Villa and never really got the plaudits he fully deserved. There is a reason he is known to Villa fans as ‘God’.
I remember the first time I got to meet him at the club shop. There was some kind of shirt signing event on and both Brian Little (the manager back then) and Paul McGrath were in attendance. My Mom’s last name is ‘Little’ and she asked me to ask if Brian was related in anyway, which he replied ‘who knows’ with a smile, and Paul (sitting next to him) over heard and laughed at me.
Ultimate Villa Legend?
Gareth Barry. A model professional and a lot of younger up and coming footballers could do a lot worse than look up to him.
Gareth is one of the first players I witnessed break into the Villa set up, stay a good number of years at the club, before moving on elsewhere. I generally felt sad the day he signed for Manchester City.
He started out as a defender, which is probably why I took time to pay attention to him, before moving into midfield. You never heard about him getting in trouble with the press (which became quite common in the early 90’s – onwards) and he always seemed to give 100% on the football pitch.
Favourite Villa memory?
I am not old enough to fully experience a league/trophy winning Aston Villa and know what it really feels like. Unfortunately, I was hoping May 30th was going to give me my first taste. Oh well.
My favourite memory would be the 3-2 victory over Coventry City in 2001. At this time of my life, I was really starting to fall in love with Aston Villa. I approached the game, really looking forward to relegating Coventry City. It was a scorching hot day and the stands were packed to the rafters – what could possibly go wrong?
Moustapha Hadji had very different ideas that afternoon. The Sky Blues went 2-0 up after just 25 minutes as they looked to be putting two fingers up to both Villa and relegation.
That is when things began to change. Mark Delaney sent in a cross from the bi-line and City’s goalkeeper Chris Kirkland (a very hot prospect) fumbled the ball into the path of Darius Vassell who bundled home.
The ground later erupted when Gareth Southgate crossed a ball and found our then record signing Juan Pablo Angel, who smashed the ball into the back of the net, for his first goal for Aston Villa.
The knife was already in as Coventry looked set to be relegated but Villa hadn’t finished. They wanted to twist that knife!
Magic Paul Merson smashed the ball from the edge of the box and smashed into the top corner of the net. Aston Villa 3 Coventry City 2 – relegation confirmed.
Why waste your money on Aston Villa?
I have been asked on many occasions by friends who have have lost interest in Villa as we have grown up, had kids and mortgages etc, why do you still waste your money on them lot? They don’t care about you!
Maybe they do have a point. Aston Villa Football Club probably don’t care about me, Stuart Young. One thing is for sure, I bloody care about them.
Running my own fansite pretty much ensures that I can’t get away from Villa, even when it feels more of a chore to get down to Villa Park than a pleasure.
However, Aston Villa have given me some of the best days of my life. From a 6-1 win over Sunderland on a cold and wet Monday night. The same night my brother (who was in the army at the time) travelled all the way back from Catterick, knowing full well he had to be up the next morning at 6am, to the day I married the women I plan to spend the rest of my life with.
No, I didn’t tie the knot at Villa Park but I had my wedding reception there and the staff on the day couldn’t do enough for me, my wife or my guests. Even down to a personalised knife to cut the wedding cake.
I travelled to Hamburg and witnessed us get demolished by a Ivica Olic hat-trick but the bond amongst Aston Villa fans while we was in Germany was great. People I had never met before would come up to me and make sure I was OK, as we drunk the three days we spent over there away. We was like one big family.
There can be many many bad days for Aston Villa but them special days (that do seem to far between at times) make it all worth it. UTV
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