“You want an end like that, flags and everything.” – Lambert dreams about the ideal Holte End

A few weeks back when Villa boss Paul Lambert and the club’s CEO Tom Fox were in Dortmund scouting Arsenal in their European Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund, they were also seeing an idyllic vision of Villa’s future.

Villa Park would love such European nights to return. They used to be part of the package of supporting Villa and the stadium certainly lends itself to such occasions.The last truly decent one was the Europa League home victory against Ajax (ask John Carew if he remembers it…) and even that now seems an increasingly distant memory.

Certainly Tom Fox brought back the very same sentiments of where Villa’s rightful place is, from the German trip.

“[I felt]we weren’t just scouting Arsenal, we’re scouting this experience,” Fox told AVTV. “This is what we want to bring back to our fans, this is a club that used to have that, it would be fantastic to bring that back starting with the Europa League.”

Of course, this is pretty standard ideology of a Villa CEO. I once stood with former Villa CEO Paul Faulkner in the Trinity Road stand on a Thursday night overlooking a majestic looking empty stadium and half-joked to Faulkner, “There should be European football here tonight!” His reply was pretty much what Fox said above.

Holte End Potential

However far away the return of European nights are to Villa Park, there is something that Villa supporters can affect and that Lambert identified from his Dortmund trip in a recent interview he did with the Daily Telegraph.

What Lambert said in that recent interview echoes the thoughts of MOMS, some other Villa groups and the majority of those Villa supporters who answered the recent MOMS survey.

‘Only 3% of supporters said the atmosphere [of Villa Park] was ‘fine as it is’

Lambert touched on the potential of what the Holte End could be.

“The Holte End could be like the Yellow Wall,” Lambert told the Telegraph. “The Holte End holds close to 14,000. That Dortmund end holds 26,000, fewer when the seats are in (for Europe).

“You want an end like that, [with] flags and everything,” he added.

 

yellow wall dortmund
Dortmund’s Yellow wall actually being low-key for a change

Holte End Desire

To the question of the atmosphere of Villa Park only 3% of supporters said the atmosphere was ‘fine as it is’, while another 3% said it was the unavoidable circumstance of the soulless state of the modern game.

In answer to the question ‘Would you like to see more atmosphere at Villa Park with more banners, flags, displays etc?’ 91% of fans answered a variation of ‘yes’.

Interestingly, there was an overwhelming majority within the ‘yes’ vote in favour of taking things to the next level and realising what Lambert was wishing for.

Yes, we should go all out with big Holte End displays and make Villa Park the best atmosphere in the English game 57%
Yes, more effort and improvements are needed. 17%
Yes, but It’s up to the players to inspire the crowd 17%
The modern game is soulless, deal with it! 3%
It’s fine as it is 3%

Holte End Action

Certainly there’s potential for the Holte End to make a real name for itself; as a terrace it used to be one of the biggest in Europe. Even with the size of the Holte with seats in, Villa supporters still have the infrastructure there to put on the kind of atmosphere the club’s manager alludes to.

We’ve had ‘bring a scarf days’ and ’12th man days’ in the past that weren’t executed with much conviction. It takes more than simple Facebook and Twitter posts to effect what happens in the stands.

The anniversary celebration of the closing of the Holte terrace  at the last home game of last season against Hull City, was a step in the right direction though. Fans – with their inflatables and balloons – produced one of the best home atmospheres in recent memory.

It would be good to multiple that effort by three or five times though.

MOMS has proposed before that we should use the 140th anniversary of the club  to have a celebration on a match day. As well as celebrating the anniversary, the main drive was to create of culture and thirst for supporters being more involved and active on match days.

It’s alright talking about potential Holte End atmospheres, but we need action and a 140th anniversary was a decent enough starting point. Some supporters say, we should wait for the 150th anniversary to celebrate Villa’s tradition, but this really isn’t about what is a suitable anniversary, this is about actually doing something now, rather than finding excuses to not.

The main motivation should be to create a ‘shock and awe’ atmosphere on the Holte.

If fans do something now, we will learn how and hopefully get into the habit of making the Holte End one of the best shows in the Premier League. It will also lift the team and the club. Most importantly, it that provides more enjoyment and value for their ticket price for supporters.

Also, after 10-years of practice, we’ll be a well-oiled machine when it comes to properly celebrating the 150th anniversary of the club in 10 years time.

Modern Game vs Tradition

There had been an ideal match date for such a celebration for Villa supporters. It’s been established by various Villa historians that the club came to be on Saturday 21st November 1874, fast-forward 140 years and Villa were playing at home on Saturday 22nd November against Southampton. It would have been the perfect day for the Holte End to put on a show and celebrate our heritage, that is until Sky, in its wisdom, moved the date to the following Monday evening. So, much for tradition.

A celebration is better suited to a Saturday 3pm, but which game now would provide a suitable occasion to see what we can do with the Holte, in terms of displays and creating the ultimate party atmosphere?

Since fans argue over the exact date of when Villa was formed, perhaps the best idea is to put the choice of game to a vote. Select a handful of decent looking ties and then conduct a poll (then lobby Sky not to change the date of the winning fixture!).

Of course, Villa fans would need to give ourselves a few months to prepare, so it is perhaps wise to only consider games in the New Year (we’ll speak to other Villa supporters about this and get back to you).

 

Let us know in the comments below what your thoughts and ideas would be for such a celebration on a match day. Alternately, send us an email at: contact [at} myoldmansaid.com

Lets get the ball rolling.

UTV

*Yellow Wall photo credit – Andreas Fozzman (Flickr)

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Aston Villa FC could start the ball rolling by having a free program offer to any Villa supporter entering the Holte end 30 minutes before game time, also encouraging sales of banners, scarves flags at discounted prices in that particular area of the stadium.

  2. I agree with all the cooments already displayed, today Mouriniho has blasted the Chelski fans for no atmosphere. I was in the lower north for a season which was pretty good, most stood because of the view, and sung pretty much all game, my boy suggested the following season we moved to the upper for a better view and thought the atmosphere would be similar, how wrong could we have been, I moved after 1 game it was full of people having picknicks, up and down to the toilets, food etc, pass the sausage roll. I then knew what the sandwich brigade was that everyone had talked about. You will never get this lot singing. It has to be the holte and the Lower North, For me a start would be to get the club to incentivise those who do not want the flags in there obstruction of the game to move, Doug Ellis, Upper North, Upper Trinity by reducing the price of the ground to be the same in any stand, all are never full at the moment, im sure most would move on their own accord if the price was lower, leaving the Holtenders to those who want an atmosphere to improve and take part. Move Brigada to both ends behind the goals, split to start the atmosphere at both ends, so the away team see both, If people can see what they are doing they will be more interested in going down and joining them, especially the kids and teenagers, who will be the future of the Holte, give them something different in their match expereience when the game isnt its best but they have fun.
    We can do it but we need to seize the opportunity Tom Fox and Lambert have left for us, we need a meeting with them and I would be happy to help where I can given work and ferrying my boy around as an accademy player. UTV

  3. If you want fans to fill the ground early, it’s simple – lower the price of the beer. At the prices they charge, the fans have absolutely no incentive whatsoever to come to the ground early …

  4. Went to that Ajax game and it reminded me of the Inter Milan nights it was great. Then MON started chasing CL and we stuttered out of the group and didn’t even try n the CSKA game.

    When I think back to the atmospheres of the 80’s and early 90’s it makes me cry.

    • Yep, that Ajax game was a hint at what Villa Park could have been midweek, but not only did MON sell our Euro ambition down the river, UEFA messed up the UEFA Cup and turned it into something every club now tries to avoid or play their reserves in.

      Where are the people trying to make the game better as a sport?

  5. there are too many tourist/sitting on there arses moaners up the Holte these days. Football has changed and that’s just a fact. The famous atmosphere at Anfield missing, Goodison was like a library even when 3-0 up. its the modern ground/fan.

    I was at a Hamburg game earlier on in the year and whilst the atmosphere was impressive, it was also false and unfeeling. No edge of the seat excitement, cheering, anger, glee… just organised song after organised song, it just became sterile.

    If you want to change to Holte simply open your lungs and sing your heart out

    • There’s no doubt prices as well have altered the type of fan going to games and priced-out those who made more noise and sung. A similar thing has happened at music concerts too. With higher ticket prices, you just get a bunch of prats with their mobile phones out recording/taking photos of concerts, rather than actually getting involved and living & enjoying the moment.

      I don’t want to say modern life is rubbish, but it’s getting there. People are getting more and more detached from actually living and experiencing things; they seem to prefer to pretend to the world via social media, that they have an exciting life.

      It’s time for people to get involved more and get their souls back.

  6. It’s one thing fans saying they want a better atmopshere or Lambert commenting on the quality of the Dortmund fans or any other set of fans and quite another building the culture that enables something like the yellow wall to grow.

    If you want to create an atmosphere then sing, if you want to see a wall of claret and blue then bring a flag, sometimes there are those fun sponges in the ground who want to sit on their hands all game and yes there are plenty of these people even in the Holte, so you’re maybe going to upset a few mopers but sod them.

    It’s really in the fans hands, I understand the point of a focal point such as the 140 anniversary but we shouldn’t need one, the next game is spurs at home so that’s the next opportunity to get behind the team.

    Some may say that there’s not been a lot to shout about down the Villa in the last few years, but we shouldn’t need an external impetus to get behind the team, if the team are doing shite then take pride in the way we support them, get behind them, rally them, make Villa park an intimidating place for teams to come.

    What Brigada 1874 are doing in L8 is a start but this needs to be a catalyst for things to happen across the Holte, in the meantime if you are getting shit from stewards for standing up then move over the L8 and get involved in that section of the ground.

    • The next opportunity to back the team/create atmosphere is always the next game, but that’s been the case for ages! It’s almost like we all have to restart the culture of having fun supporting your team. The 140th anniversary focal point is of course an idea to kick-start and importantly focus minds. Hopefully it would have a knock-on effect.

      The stadium security has been draconian in its outlet, but we now have a Villa manager on record saying how it should be. We need to seize that sentiment and carry it forth and test it.

      People pay top dollar to watch their team, but in paying that money sign away a lot of their liberty. There image rights are given away for free to TV and for adverts etc, yet they aren’t really allowed to fully show support of their team.

      There’s definitely a groundswell of opinion towards supporters reclaiming a stake in their clubs (on all levels), if fans who go to games care about their club and want a better experience going, they should all take it upon themselves to do something.

      Even the misers who live to complain, might even break a smile of pride if they see a colourful and loud Holte End impressing the football world.

      It’ll take a lot of hard work and a leap of faith by fans though.

  7. In my opinion, the biggest factor on atmosphere in all grounds is not all seater stadiums but the fact that you have a designated seat. As a result, the stands are still almost empty five minutes before kick-off.

    Years ago, when there was the possibility of a lock-out, fans would be stood on the terraces before 2pm (in the days of a traditional 3pm kick-off) to ensure they could stand where they wanted. Nobody dared move for fear of never getting back.

    With both sets of fans in the ground well before kick-off the atmosphere could build.

    I think if you can identify a way of getting fans in to the Holte End a little while before kick-off then you will see the atmosphere improve.

    • Interesting point. Yes, there was definitely more build-up before the start of games back then, which as you say, had a positive knock-on effect.

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