What Does it Take to be ‘The Pride of the Midlands’?
‘With the exception of Villa, the region was a football wasteland’ – Guardian Newspaper (2010)
Over the past season or so, I’ve had a few other local fans telling me the tide is turning in terms of the title of “Pride of the Midlands”. Really? I mean what does it take to earn such a prestigious tag? Two decent seasons? Finish above the Villa? Surely, there’s more to it than that?
Aston Villa have been towing the line for Midlands football for a long time now. While others have yo-yo’ed, Villa have been in the top flight for the last 26 years, including being ever present in the Premier League. You don’t need me to tell you we was one of the founder members of the football league and our main man William McGregor came up with the idea of the first organised association football league in the world and out the kindness of his heart, even invited West Bromich Albion to join.
Villa have provided more England internationals to play for our great nation than any other club. This shows our loyalty to home-grown talent; a trait that is still well and truly alive today, with Villa boasting one of the best academy’s in the country, if not Europe.
We’re up there in terms of teams that have won the most FA Cups (7) and League Cups (5) and we’re one of the select five English teams that have lifted the European Cup (still hard to consider Chelsea in that brotherhood).
Some would argue that history is yesterday and this is all we have to hang on to, but isn’t football is about winning trophies? In terms of honours won, Villa in fact are the 4th most successful English club. What is a club without its history?
If we do indeed discard history and trophies, as a meaningless part of the argument, then surely the fact we still have the biggest stadium, the biggest fan base and still arguably the biggest spending capacity of all the other Midlands teams, should be taken into consideration right?
So now, it’s just a question of whether the title “Pride of the Midlands” actually means anything?
It’s just a matter of opinion, but I feel we have held the title for so long that maybe Villa fans got so accustomed to it, it stopped meaning anything. It’s only now, since a new challenger is trying to have a crack at the title, that we’ve had to again argue the fact that we are indeed the biggest and best in the Midlands.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer (although it’s a more impressive bird than a throstle), consistency is the key and two or three seasons of finishing above the Villa will never make you “Pride of the Midlands”.
It takes more than that…haven’t you seen the rules it takes to qualify for the title?
The Pride of the Midlands’ Bill of Rights.
To be considered for The Pride of the Midlands status, a Midland club must pass each of these 10 points:
1. A team must be able to demonstrate success in European competition.
2. Young supporters of the football club must be able to remember when the team’s last trophy was won (winning a FA Youth Cup in 1976 doesn’t count.)
3. Additionally, at least 75% of a team’s supporter base should have been alive when the team last won top level silverware.
4. A club should be able to host an anniversary party of when they last won the top English league title and have supporters who are still alive from the time of the triumph to attend.
5. A club cannot have any allegiance to any kind of supermarket; a club needs to be seen as impartial and without direct external retail chain interests.
6. It is necessary for supporters of any club to speak a recognised dialect (unfortunately ‘yam yam’ is not and never will be a language).
7. Stadium capacity needs to be over 40,000. Under mitigating circumstances a capacity of 30,000 could be considered.
8. A club must have a proud and distinguished club emblem. For example, if it’s bird, then a hawk, falcon or eagle maybe considered. Any bird that is actually below them in the food chain will not be acceptable.
9. In the same way it takes six-years to have the status of bankruptcy erased off a person’s record, a Midland’s football team must do six consecutive years in the Premiership if it holds the reputation of being a yo-yo club, before it can be considered for the crown of ‘The Pride of the Midlands’.
10. If a Midlands club has ever employed Gary Megson in the position of their manager, it will take an extended ten-year period of consecutive Premiership football to clear the club’s yo-yo status, before consideration for ‘The Pride of the Midlands’ status.
Should there be any more points added to the Pride of the Midlands Bill of Rights? Please comment below.
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