[quote_center] ‘Aston Villa fans are very loyal supporters and to them ‘protest’ is something of a dirty word’.[/quote_center]

For the past week the press built up that a big ‘protest’ was going to happen in the Holte End at the start of the Aston Villa vs Liverpool game. After the game, the papers read that apparently this ‘protest’ failed.

What ‘protest’?

Origins

Last Sunday, MOMS was approached by two other Villa websites The Villa Blog and avillafan.com about whether it would back an initiative of a 10 minute demonstration, where supporters would be encouraged to take their seats after the first ten minutes of the game had lapsed. Essentially it was to show the custodians of the club an image of a not so ‘Bright Future’, one of empty seats, it carried on its current trajectory.

After the Leicester City defeat, my patience had worn thin of the Groundhog Day routine of Villa’s scoreless games, needlessly dropped points, lack of genuine communication between club and fans, absent ambition and the apathy it bred in supporters.

Something had to be done, but nobody was acting.

Loyalty and Protest

Aston Villa fans are very loyal supporters and to them ‘protest’ is something of a dirty word. What’s the biggest bit of protest bait you could dangle in front of a Villan? Answer: The idea that a Bluenose manager who had just relegated Small Heath was coming to manage the club.

Even that only brought out around 350 supporters to the steps of the Holte to protest and the attempted protests that followed while Big ‘Eck was in charge failed (hence why MOMS did the newspaper ad).

With that in mind, MOMS advised anything like this would unlikely get the kind of supporter backing they were imagining and would need a bit of time to plan properly. Plus, who were we to tell the fans what to do?

But I was reminded it was still the January transfer window, so in terms of having any impact, now was the best time with the iceberg of relegation having appeared on the horizon.

[quote_center]’You could hear their producer’s enthusiasm dampen down the line, when I explained the reality of what had actually been proposed.'[/quote_center]

The ACTUAL idea

The idea was on ice, until the next day, a young disillusioned Villa fan and his friends, whom having witnessed in-fighting at the Leicester game, had taken the time to email a handful of Villa sites. He articulately expressed how sick they were of the current situation and suggested there should be an ‘8 minute’ demonstration, one minute for every completed season under Randy Lerner’s ownership.

It was shorter than the 10 minute idea, which was the first bonus. But it also unknowingly served up further symbolism. The remaining 82 minutes was the number of the year of the club’s finest hour.

So that was the three Villa sites’ idea: a visual demonstration that showed two visions of Villa’s future. Eight minutes of empty seats m’lord and 82 minutes of full-on support (as opposed to berating of players and booing of team, which currently goes on in the Holte).

Villa supporters were understandingly frustrated on a number of fronts, so we just proposed an invitation that supporters could voluntary do, if they were not happy with what was going on with Aston Villa at the moment.

It was not an organised protest against Lerner and/or Lambert (or even Tom Cleverley!).

Plus, it also offered a second part that all fans could join in, whatever they thought of the first part, so that once at least we wouldn’t have a toxic environment on the Holte (well, at least until Liverpool would score).

It was just an idea. Take it or leave it. But it was a decent idea in theory and importantly there would be no waving of the metaphorical pitchforks.

We were still in the middle of the January window, so we all agreed to just do it.

‘Phantom Protest’

 The Daily Mail had contacted me a day before we announced the demo to do one of those ‘fan’s view’ pieces and comment on the malaise and predicament Villa found themselves in. I informed them there was going to be a demo proposal issued the next day, and the online editor said they’d run a news story on it. The Birmingham Mail was also informed to expect an announcement of interest at 9am, which the three sites had already tweeted to Villa supporters on our social media accounts.

Now, you expect a bit of press to raise awareness, but after the two Mails reported it, it spread like wild fire. Blanket newspaper coverage for a whole week followed, all the nationals ran pieces on it and continued to mention it every day in their coverage after Lambert was questioned about it.

It was on the back pages of three national papers on Friday (doesn’t happen much for Villa) and the likes of Sky Sports, BT Sport, Talk Sport, WM Radio all discussed it and BBC One’s Football Focus even mentioned it.

When I say ‘it’, I mean the ‘protest’.

 

holte end protest press

 

Our voluntary two-part demonstration suggestion had been abbreviated by the press into a ‘planned eight-minute protest’. While we took the time to point out what was actually intended to the likes of Sky Sports, WM Radio and some of the newspapers, they obviously didn’t want that to get in the way of a good story.

While the pundits discussed it, telling supporters what they should do despite not having a clue about the reality of what was happening, interesting only WM Radio did any proactive journalism, to clear up what actually was planned. You could hear their producer’s enthusiasm dampen down the line, when I explained the reality of what had actually been proposed.

The Monster

I’m not going to lie, this Protest Press Monster that the media had created was much bigger and better than our proposed demo, when it came to getting the message of Aston Villa’s plight and supporter concern out there to the world.

Some cynics told us that Lerner wouldn’t hear about it or that nobody outside Birmingham would care. The Protest Press Monster soon proved them wrong as it crushed their reservations under foot as it marched on.

January influence

The media spotlight on Villa was perfect timing, falling in the middle of the January transfer window. The pressure of it, might introduce a sense of added urgency to the Villa board to make those signings to appease fans and more importantly avoid the relegation iceberg on the horizon.

Of course, the only issue was the fallout and the accusations of failure we’d get, since the media and anyone gullible seemed to think there would be like 15,000 empty seats on the Holte come 3pm. Nobody seemed to actually factor in Villa fans reservations to protests in the past, most recently with the low numbers already mentioned that ended up protesting against a perceived antichrist figure like McLeish.

Any supporter who knew their fellow fans, knew that such a mass protest was a far-fetched concept.

I’d personally tried to explain in the build-up to some fans there was no ‘protest’ per se, but some thought I was just arguing over semantics (i.e. a ‘protest’ and a ‘demonstration’ are the same thing), but they weren’t the same thing – there was the reality and then the media expectation.

Even before the match day itself, in terms of communicating supporter concern over the state of club to the whole nation, it had already been a huge success.

 

 

Blackout and Surf’s Down

After such massive press coverage it was interesting to see what happened on the day.

What hasn’t been reported, which TV footage proves, is when the teams took the pitch the Holte End was around 75% full and the pre-match Holte End’s giant surfer flag wasn’t even released.

The club resorted to turning off the live TV feeds on the concourse in the Holte to flush anybody potentially demonstrating out onto the stand, and the stand rapidly filled up as a result.

Certainly, on the day, it seems more Villans than perhaps expected (by me anyway) were going to do the demo. Why would the club refrain from surfing the flag and undertake the mean-spirited action of turning off the screens?

Some supporters have since informed MOMS that they wanted to demonstrate their frustrations for eight minutes, but didn’t want to miss seeing any of the match. Fair enough. It was a totally voluntary action, so if they couldn’t now see the game on the TVs, you can’t blame them.

Fare play to the 300-odd supporters who were counted on the upper Holte, who stood firm and continued making their principled stand despite the concourse blackout (there were more in the Lower Holte).

Result

The three Villa supporter sites simply sowed the seed of an idea to allow supporters to show their concerns about the club’s direction. What it turned into thanks to the mechanics of modern football, sent the message louder and clearer than we could have ever first imagined.

More importantly it shook the tree of Villa supporter apathy. The opinions flowed, some of those who didn’t support the idea of the demo expressed respect of the intent, while others suggested other ideas to take action.

The ball of supporter dissatisfaction with the recent state of the club is finally rolling, it’s now up to us all to make sure it’s buried in the net.

UTV

#WeWantOurVillaBack

Follow MOMS on Facebook

PS – Please do a better job than the team of burying the ball in the net…

PSS – Villa CEO Tom Fox will be attending the AGM of the Aston Villa Supporters Trust on Feb 19th 7.15pm for a Q&A session with members at Villa Park. See the AVST for more details. Don’t just leave it to others, your club needs you. UTV

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Do you reckon it’s time to get rid of this article as the headline story on the home page now ?
    Yesterday was one of the better days that I’ve had down Villa Park this season and it would be great to see a more positive lead article.
    One swallow does not make a summer, but I’ve got to give credit to Lambert & Fox for tying up Delph (even if the contract is full of clauses, it’s still a great bit of buisness) and credit to the player himself for giving us something back following his long term injuries (unlike Judas Downing who jumped ship as soon as the scouse money came calling)
    So yes soemthing more positive on the home page please Editor, like maybe the non-stop support from the Brigada 1874 crew, well done to them….did I hear a drum in there?
    I thought the 7 large cut out cups was a nice touch.
    I do however sign off on a sour note, I travelled to VP on a coach from Leamington Spa (The company was Catteralls) and the police keep us locked in until all the Bournmouth Coaches were off in convey under an escort, and only then would they let us out, so effectivly we were tagged on last the convey. We would normally join the M6 by the power league slip road at spaggetti, but the police took us via Perry Barr. As we drove past the Crown & Cousin Pub an object (presume a brick) smashed the front/side window of our coach! It was pure luck that lady sat on that seat still has her face intact today….if you are reading this (very doubtful) ….YOU ARE A FUCKING MORON
    I am pleased to report nobody was hurt as a result, but after witnessing a few scuffles at Leicester and now a brick through the coach window presumably by our own fans? I am questioning if violence is starting to rear it’s ugly head again.

    • Dave – star out swearing in future as the comment won’t publish (also kids read it etc).

      Yep, you’re right, a swallow does not make a summer. I see nothing more ‘positive’ than supporters trying to act to give the custodians of the club a ‘wake up’ call about ambition. Since the announcement of demo proposal and all the press that followed – Gil signed (after agent cash wrangles) and the club obviously upped its game to get Delph.The media pressure could have only helped in that matter in making the club go the extra mile. The whole Delph signing was orchestrated as an ‘event’ to win back the fans, down to Delph’s plea for the fans to back the team for the rest of the season. Normally, a player just signs and that is that! Although, it was a good move by the club in the current climate and it worked after it was backed up by a win.

      When supporter concern is shown, it’s good to see the club finally doing something about it. There’s a long road ahead and Delph signing doesn’t improve us this season (although it will boost the confidence in the camp). Villa will hopefully bring in another signing in make us better for the rest of the season, as they have options they are chasing at the mo.

  2. plus how could scabby be captain 2 stone overweight wears gloves and does fu ck all bone ideal the team is so un fit it is untrue as keno said but Lambert is afraid to up set them by working hard the guy is a complete joke

  3. i cannot believe some of the things i read on some of these sites the first thing is that mc cluless had a far better record than lambert fact
    McLeish was our manager he was hated not only because of his relationship with the Blues but also because of his negative football. It was always claimed that he was more interested in defending than attacking.

    So I decided to look up his record as Villa manager after 22 matches and compare it with Lambert’s this season after the same amount of games.

    And what did I find, not only had Villa obtained 5 more points under McLeish but also they had scored 26 goals against the 11 of this season. Although supposedly playing defensively they had conceded 27 as to 25, however his goal difference was better being -3 as against -14.

    Still being a season ticket holder at that time and attending most home games and some away I remember the howls of anger and loathing and the calling for McLeish’s ginger head because of the negative style played by his side.

    I find it unbelievable that there are those that called for McLeish’s head that still support the worse manager in Aston Villa’s history? If you are still one of those that wanted McLeish out and still want Lambert to remain as Villa’s manager I would love an explanation as I do not understand your reasoning. Be careful and engage your brain if you have one, before posting more crap in defence of the indefensible.
    11th Aston Villa P22/W6/D9/L7/GF26/GA27/GD-3 Pts 27 Under McLeish
    15th Aston Villa P22/W5/D7/L10/GF11/GA25/GD-14 Pts 22 Under Lambert

    so any villa fan who thinks we should not get rid of ,Lambert is not a villa fan i am sorry but this lair and cheat and cancer has to be cut out of villa park now

  4. The media debate on Villa rolls on. Alan Shearer in his Sun column focused on Villa. It’s better to be spoken about than to be forgotten. In the middle of the January window is the best time to have this spotlight and pressure and it’s all a result of this action. Up to all of us to keep it up and not just shrug our shoulders.

    • Well it’s old news now and our next home game will be a welcome relief from the demands of the premiership. I’ve bit the bullet and secured my seat for the Bournmouth game on Sunday which I’m sure will not be a push over.
      I’m also sure it will be a piss poor turn out for several reasons (Sunday kick off, end of the month finances after christmas,and not least what we have been discussing on here about our recent performances)
      However the Cherries will have their maximum 6,000 away allocation cheering them on, which means now more than ever the team will need our support, so lets leave the white hankies at home for another day (not a bad idea by the way) and sing along with the Brigada 1874 Crew to give us the best chance of extending our cup run into the next round.
      Whatever the result the gutter press will write what they want to write (as the editor of this site has already alluded to in a prevoius post)

      • I hope their 1-0 loss at Leeds, was the start of things to come (Villa will be their third away game in a week), rather than them saving themselves for Sunday. They’ll probably have a 1/4 of the crowd by the looks of it.

  5. Great write up. Why don’t we take a leaf out of the barca fans book, when their not happy they all wave a white flag/hankie to demonstrate their feelings, ie: the club has surrendered. Everyone waving a white flag/hankie is an awesome sight. Check out you tube. Cheers vitd.

  6. Villa supporters, all love their club, but tend to dislike, and love to fall out with each other over opposing views. While disagreements and discussion is great, the level of nastiness aimed at fans who have the opposite views, is unbelievable. This sort of thing, has petrol poured on it by comments such as the one from Lambert last week, blaming fans for “harming” the team, and is pure blame shifting, which he should be ashamed of.

    Any Villa fan or website, that puts forward an idea, to further the views and ambitions of supporters, should be applauded, not vilified, it’s just as easy to say “I disagree” as to say “idiot, crap, stupid” etc. That’s my personal opinion, crap or otherwise 😉

    I supported last weeks idea, my view is that the club is being very badly run, much worse than a Bargain Booze selling just milk and bread, and nobody at Villa Park, is taking responsibility, off, or on the pitch. This has the potential to end in disaster, no longer can we ignore the shocking facts right before our eyes, and keep saying it will all come right as long as we back the team, and keep the faith.

    As far as I can see, we do back the team, the proof was Saturday, but there is nothing at the club to have faith in at the moment.

    I have also been a life long supporter, and can remember the protests in 1968, which were spontaneous, no Twitter then, I dread to think what would have happened to the club without that happening, the club was sliding into oblivion. We were relegated, but then had hope, because there was a change of ownership and management, and the support from the fans got us back on track, I was proud to be a part of that.

    We don’t want to see Aston Villa in decline again, neglect will cause that to happen, that scares me, the time for taking no notice, and hope it will all be ok, is passing us by.

    VTID

  7. In truth I still feel a little sympathy for Lambert as there is no doubt that he has to operate on a shoestring budget. That being said, I feel the players are available at our club to put in better performances that we are witnessing. I for one am sick to death of the usual weekend of crap football, crap results, and a crap mood. Yes the protest/demonstration may not have came to a visual conclusion on Saturday, however the voices of villa fans were heard throughout the week. I just hope they were loud enough to reach America.

  8. I hope none of these protests are about Lerner, he has done us proud in the eight years he has been here.
    Villa fans are too greedy.

  9. I think you’re arguing semantics and trying to save face by trying to differentiate between a protest and a demonstration. Within the context of football support they are 2 ways of saying the exact same thing.

    I also think it smacks slightly of mild embarrassment trying to play the whole thing down after the event now that it has failed to get the support that those in favour of it would have hoped.

    Someone created an idea. The media jumped on it, it possible grew much bigger than was initially thought, but in the end it fell flat and the media were still there to report on that.

    Now if it had encountered enormous success then I might have re-visited my own views. As it is, I would hope there would be enough pride in those on the other side of the fence to do the same now that they have encountered the opposite.

    The Liverpool game was a decent performance. We had plenty of chances and had we been more clinical in front of goal we could easily have won that game. It was a big improvement on the Leicester performance and the introduction of Carles Gil showed that it might be promising going forward. Even if the next 2 fixtures are horrible, I think Villa fans should practice the latter part of your demonstration for the remainder of the season but do it over 90 minutes. You never know. We just might become part of the solution.

    • No embarrassment at all. I agreed to get involved in this idea to get the ball rolling on Villa supporters taking responsibility for their club, as a lot of fans would rather just watch and simply moan and groan (as per usual). In terms of putting a rocket up the custodians of our club’s ass with the media coverage, it was a success.

      As i mention in the post, there’s a serious relegation iceberg coming and it’s important the club does something about it now, while there is still time to steer clear from it.

      Regarding the next upcoming home league game – it’s important that our unbeaten Villa Park record against José Mourinho is kept intact, as that’s the only thing that allows me to sleep at night!

      UTV

  10. It’s no wonder protests have trouble gaining traction when leaders of other sites with vested interests, dampen down any potential protest ideas.

    • An idea was put out for voluntary action. There was no strong-arming. There was no organised protest. Simple as that. People quick to try to point the finger, when people make an effort. Vest interests? Making sure this club doesn’t sleepwalk into the Championship. All that this post is doing is giving fans a bit of transparency of events. If you’re not happy with that, keep on reading the tabloids.

  11. Just a comment on the team, Cissokho and Hutton need to go, Lowton and Bennett!!!(I said it) would serve us better now that we have Sanchez policing the midfield. Hutton and Aly CANNOT cross the ball, I havent seen Cissokho even fluke a good cross, it kills our attacks. If our only width in the team is the wingbacks then these two have to be replaced, even if its with the two players we already have.
    PS they are good defenders, but are just dogshit going forward

    • NO NO NO NO NO……….. Lowton and Bennett are you mad? I cannot believe this suggestion, maybe you are a Blues supporter trying to create mischief. Despite Cissokhos limited ability in attack and Huttons hit and miss crossing both are better defenders than Lowton and Bennett and after all that is their main job within the team. You only have to look at the stats for goals against since they have been in the team. Lets not tinker too much with the back four, It aint broke. Its the team further up the pitch that needs attention, another forward wouldn’t be a bad idea and definitely a midfielder who can score and set up play would be heaven sent. Gil is a gift and I hope that he settles and is not poached by one of the so called bigger teams come the summer break.

  12. Why not create a noise protest inside the ground !!!! Everytime villa get the ball make as must noise as possible.!!!! Or have 8 minutes of applause at the start of the game

  13. The proposed demo was a cack idea, if anything it turned people the other way. I actually made a conscious effort to be at my seat earlier, and it looked like others did also. Your website is a great read, and there has been some great banter on Twitter as a result of all this, and the national press coverage may have helped our plight also.
    I saw hope on Saturday when Gil came on and that appeared to give everybody a lift.
    We’re not done yet, but we are in for a brutal relegation scrap, let’s stick together a fight this as one. VTID

    • That was another potential positive side effect of this once it was build up in the press to be this big thing, that it would galvanise some fans into thinking ‘f**k that, i’m going to make an extra effort to back the team today’! i’ Siege mentality and all that!

  14. Don’t let the b…….s grind you down MOMS. I couldn’t join with you in protest because I have a different perspective on Villa and our situation. However, your demo was a better option than booing, badly made banners, or singing moronic negative songs aimred at the team. And if it rattles Randy, all well and good.

    It seems to me sometimes that football fans today are all a bit OTT. Look at Newcastle and Pardew, or West Ham and Allardyce. Look at the Arsenal mooks hurling abuse and spittle at Wenger. Look at the idiotic section of scousers calling for Rodgers head just six weeks ago.

    All we know as fans is what we don’t like and when it comes to how to play or who to buy we all think we know best. Obviously we don’t or we too would be highly paid managers,and coaches with promotions and cups and glory on our CV.

    The interesting thing about yesterday was how the team worked once Cleverly and Westie departed. Players were receiving the ball and running at the opponents instead of seeking to play sideways passes. Best of all, Gil looks a stunner, and if Lambo can find one more like that we may well be in for some fun. At last.

    I can’t do the Lambert hate thing like too many of our fans do. It’s myopic. Lambert has done the best he can with no money compared to our rivals. The players speak highly of him, as do his rival managers. We’re sick of barely surviving but we have survived. Maybe the style change shows Lambert is tired of it too. i know I would be.

    Keep on serving up good content and being true to yourself. Your site is among the best. And even if we disagree sometimes I for one can still respect the passion and effort you put in to My Old Man Said.

    UTV

    • Thanks. Mutual respect amongst all fans is key. None of this pathetic ‘real fan’, ‘proper fans’ nonsense! As for Lambert, it’s only now I’ve started to feel, he may not have the answers. I believe we have the players (especially if Gil turns up trumps) to play a lot better than we are doing, so in that respect he is under performing as a manager.

  15. The plight of Villa is old news… we’ve been shocking and hopeless for 5 long years but anything getting the message across that us fans have had enough is beneficial to the cause. Villa Park is a miserable, uneasy place these days, it has been for a while and that needs to change. Anything getting national press that Villa fans are sick of taking it lying down is a good thing in my book. Lerner needs to sell up or buckle up, he can’t just string us along anymore. So the ‘protest’ didn’t work, but neither did Guy Fawkes succeed in blowing up parliament, it still rustled a few feathers, though.

    • Good points. That’s basically the feeling, ‘we’re as bad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more’. Good Guy Fawkes analogy. I might have to borrow that. UTV

  16. There will be a massive change come about
    By July, I’m totally convinced what ever division
    Avfc are in. Lambert or Lerner or both will be gone

  17. Well a wounded man speaks, Look I know that you are embarrassed but the extra large post outlining excuses and reasons only draws attention to your embarrassment better stay quiet and move on. I agree that the coverage it caused is probably the best thing that could have happened, now there is no doubt about the dissatisfaction at Villa Park, but whether Mr Lerner will see it, maybe who knows, however getting him to act on it is another matter. The man is in the US and currently in a meeting until the end of the transfer window and is not to be disturbed.

    We must get behind the team, they may not be all we hope for but they are what we have got and I don’t think they deliberately go out there to play badly. Some of you guys are new to supporting Villa, I have been going to the Villa since 1953 and believe me I have seen some rubbish in my time, even when we were in the third division I never gave up hope or faltered in my support to the team. The current squad are not good enough but I genuinely believe that we are only 2 or 3 players short. So keep the faith and support Villa with every breath, we will have better times of that I am sure.

    • I know what you mean, but it was more for transparency. No embarrassment at all, the three sites did an amazing job in terms of the coverage and getting the dissatisfaction at Villa Park out there.

      When you do anything, you get distractors and obviously that was a pay-off with the media running with it the way they did, in that we’d get s**t afterwards, but that’s fine. The bigger picture is more important than what people think of this site etc.

      I’ve seen Villa relegated, but even that wasn’t as bad as this listless soul-destroying period.

      You’re right about supporting the team (the 82 min part of this demo was to address the negativity on the Holte, but that got lost in the ‘protest’). Still there’s plans for the Bournemouth game and another fan today came up with a decent idea to help keep our unbeaten Villa Park record vs Mourinho! UTV

    • I don’t blame you. They’ll be a tabloid version. But, in short, it’s about supporting the team and upholding proper Villa ambition.

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