A little story that makes you glad to be a Villan
Last week the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) referred through to MOMS a Plymouth Argyle fan called Tom Worth, who wanted help in honouring his Villa-supporting friend who has sadly passed away. That friend was Jody O’Reilly, who most Villa fans have grown to know this week and was the subject of the Boxing Day one-minute applause at Villa Park.
Like Jody, I chose my university so I could be close to Villa Park and watch my team Aston Villa on a regular basis. It was during the Ron Atkinson era and I got lucky. I could take a Sunday stroll to Villa Park to watch the epic League Cup semi-final against Tranmere Rovers and regular attendance throughout the season, meant I had enough programme vouchers to get a ticket for the League Cup final at Wembley in ’94.
My move to Birmingham provided me with two of the best Villa experiences of my life. For Jody, unfortunately his move would ultimately sadly cost him his life.
Yet, as the outside world fast bore witness to, Jody got something more valuable from his time in Birmingham than anything Villa could provide him. He gained the love of many good friends. Friends that would fight for and ensure that Jody got his personal wish of a tribute at Villa Park when his time would come.
As well as helping raise awareness of his friend’s campaign for a tribute at Villa Park, being idealistic, I thought it was important to symbolically honour him on the Holte End, so MOMS contacted Brigada 1874 of L8 of the Holte to see if they could help with producing a banner.
The Brigada 1874 at first, understandably, didn’t want to be insincere with any tribute, as like myself, they didn’t personally know Jody. But the good thing about Jody was the more you found out about him, the more you wanted to do right by his friends.
Despite the fact that ourselves and Jody’s friends offered to cover the cost of a banner, that was never an issue that even came up with the Brigada 1874 boys. Against both the tight timescale and the fact that it was also Christmas, Brigada 1874 did a grand job of creating a fitting tribute banner in time for the game.
During the one-minute’s applause the ‘Jody O’Reilly – Holte Ender in the Sky’ (see pic above) banner was on display in L8 of the Holte.
Before the game, all involved made the necessary arrangements to get the banner to Jody’s friends after the game, so they could then take it to their memorial on Broad Street.
I would like to take the opportunity on behalf of everyone to publicly thank Dave and the Brigada 1874 for their generosity and effort.
Villa’s result against Crystal Palace was unfortunate, but in the end, insignificant compared to the spirit shown by Villa supporters at the game and Jody’s friends in coming together to honour a fallen Villan.
And it just wasn’t at Villa Park, that Jody O’Reilly was being honoured. Back in his homeland in Leixlip, Ireland, a rammed pub was watching the game live on TV and paying their own tribute with many friends there wearing a Villa shirt with the number of Jody’s age – 22.
In recent years, it’s been tough at times supporting Aston Villa, but when you hear stories like this of the heart of Villa supporters and what they can do together, especially following on from our unmoving support of Stan Petrov, it makes it all worth while. UTV.
Many thanks again to Brigada 1874 and much respect to Jody’s friends.