If you went blind would you still go to Villa Park?
It sounds like a hypothetical philosophical question, but for avid Aston Villa fan John Flanner it became a real dilemma, when aged 19, he lost his sight. At first, he thought that was it – what was the point of going to Villa Park anymore, if he couldn’t actually watch the game?
Fortunately, due to the intervention of a friend who persuaded him to go to Villa Park one Saturday afternoon, offering to do commentary of the match for him, John has enjoyed going to Villa Park for over 50 years since.
Before Aston Villa supporter John Flanner went blind, supporting Aston Villa was a little different to what it is now. Some Villa supporters would occasionally go and see their rivals Birmingham City or West Bromich at their home grounds, if Villa were playing away that weekend. Also, when it came to Villa vs Blues derbies, rival supporters would mix in the stands, enjoying the game together and exchanging chants and banter side-by-side. That’s something that would never happen today.
Speaking to My Old Man Said on our latest podcast show (below), we discuss some of these developments with John, his opinion of Villa last season, plus a death threat he got from The Zulus, and also what in his opinion are the best Villa chants.
The last game of football John saw before going blind was England’s triumph in the 1966 World Cup Final. In terms of club football, since then, obviously a lot has changed and not necessarily for the better, judging by what John has to say. Imagine if he suddenly regained his sight today and how football would look now compared to what he last saw with his own eyes in the 1960’s. Would you call it evolution? Probably not!
You can read more of John’s observations in his recently published book ‘Beautiful Game, Beautiful Memories’.