Aston Villa Fan Tales: No.1 – A View From The Allotment

Breaking Point

Sunday 2nd November, 2014.

Before the game against Spurs, a lone bugler played The Last Post. A haunting, poignant, beautiful rendition, soaked up in absolute reverence by the silence of the crowd.

That boy, long since grown, long since weary, couldn’t help but think of the men who’d fallen in the great wars, men that had seen us win record-breaking numbers of League Championships and FA Cups, their ghosts convinced that we’d have dozens more in the cupboard by now.  But they never lived to see just how much times had changed.  If only they had.

As the final whistle sounded, that once young boy, now a greying, grieving, tiring lover of only most things Aston Villa, for once didn’t blame Paul Lambert for the loss, but on reflection, he just could not let him off.  Having been fully in shock at the prospect of losing Benteke for the next 3 matches, come the final whistle, he could only tell you that we’d lost – had he been physically able to utter any words at all.

His reflections lead him to conclude that once our almost heroic, Beast, had skulked guiltily off and down the tunnel, on came his replacement, Gabby.  He hopped and scampered, but mainly lightly skipped his way through 20 minutes of a now desperate football match – in which he was again made to look like last year’s man, with overblown legs and hobnailed boots for brains, brains that cost us their first goal.

Lambert had brought him on for N’Zogbia too, the third best performer on the pitch, after Guzan and Baker.

Why? It will elude that boy, possibly forever, especially if we go down. Another elusion to add to an extraordinarily long list of exasperation and delusions, accumulating month on month, ever since we were done and dumped on our own sorry arses by the might of Bradford City, all those horrible moons ago.

Hopefully, by now, you’ve all managed to work out just who that boy was in the story. It wasn’t just me, it was thousands of us –  THOUSANDS!   And, here we all are now, those thousands of us, all lying in our Villa allotment beds, looking up at a brilliant, but foreboding sky.

Cabbages and Vegetables

Yes, Aston Villa, once the powerhouse of world football, now has an allotment, and in that allotment there are a number of cabbages, smiling themselves silly for the PR department’s latest glossy feature coming to a Villa website, Twitter feed or Facebook page near you.  And it’s when you see all those stars above and hear the echoes of the superstars mentioned before, that you begin to wonder what it is that leads our 140 year old club to focus on cabbages .  It’s because the people running our club in its 140th year, don’t have a clue what it was like for those boys and girls – fifty, forty, thirty, even twenty years ago on their first day at Villa Park.

They also haven’t got a clue about which players to buy; what tactics to use; whether it’s young and hungry or old and crusty; bomb squad, bum squad or full squad; nine at the back or nine at the top;  which coaches to employ; which contracts to secure; how much to pay; how much to charge; which records to break; what to say to the press; what to say to the fans; how to change it; how to sell it; how to motivate it.  No goals, own goals, field goals – it all makes no difference to a vegetable.

Most importantly, they do not know how to make those dreams come true for the hundreds of youngsters that, in recent times, have been whisked grudgingly away from their Xbox fantasies and dragged down the Villa to see their very first, real-life game – only to discover that it is Aston Villa, not Sonic The Hedgehog, that is imprinted within their life-shaping DNA.

Kids taking that first, tentative trip up the steps.  Kids aghast at the beauty of it all.  Kids agog at the achievements of our Kings.  This is the perpetual rebirth of claret and blue dreams – and without such dreams, there is no future and sadly, there shall be no more claret and blue Kings.

aston villa vs anderlecht

The True Claret and Blue Passion

The club’s motto is ‘Prepared’, but it seems an age ago when we last looked properly prepared for anything.  Surely ‘Passion’ is more befitting of the fans.  Aston Villa thrives on passion.  Passion to achieve more than most think we should, passion to grieve openly when we are hurt and passion to fight harder still when we are under threat and endangered.  Passion to travel to places like Carlisle or Sunderland on a cold, wet, dream filled night.  Passion to eat, sleep and drink from an emptying cup that is Aston Villa.  It is the passion of us, the supporters, the dreamers, the moaners, the screamers, the jokers, and the tear spillers, one-eyed or not, that are the custodians of all that is Aston Villa.  Without us, there isn’t even a present.

Surely, it is our duty to preserve, protect and project that mysterious passion – for all those youngsters yet to know our future proud history, not just the past history that gathers more and more dust as these barren years roll miserably by.

A Question of Heart

In contrast though, it was only a few months ago that Villa’s very own Shunammite declared that his ‘heart was no longer in it’, and only another, missed heartbeat ago, that ‘The Clueless One’ revealed how he thrives on the threat of the sack – a fool in thought, as well as deed.  Their hearts were never in it.  That is why they align themselves with cabbages, and that is why they must be harvested and thrown to the compost heap.

They know nothing of the passion of Aston Villa, except as outsiders, digging at the edges of the allotment where the tumbleweed is beginning to grow.  But we, we are amongst our Kings, we are Villa Till We Die and we know that this means oh so much more than ‘Villa Till I Sell’ or ‘Villa Till I’m Sacked’ ever will.

So, once again in our proud but chequered history, it seems that it’s time to side with either cabbages or Kings, and this boy knows which one he will fight for.  It’s time for all true Villans to set down our spades and take up our muskets (hypothetically speaking, of course).  It is time for the firing to commence and that in itself, will be more than enough to make our 140th birthday party a very happy one indeed.  Give us hope and we shall unite once more to achieve again.


© 2015, Kezz AVFC

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