“You want an end like that, flags and everything.” – Lambert dreams about the ideal Holte End
A few weeks back when Villa boss Paul Lambert and the club’s CEO Tom Fox were in Dortmund scouting Arsenal in their European Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund, they were also seeing an idyllic vision of Villa’s future.
Villa Park would love such European nights to return. They used to be part of the package of supporting Villa and the stadium certainly lends itself to such occasions.The last truly decent one was the Europa League home victory against Ajax (ask John Carew if he remembers it…) and even that now seems an increasingly distant memory.
Certainly Tom Fox brought back the very same sentiments of where Villa’s rightful place is, from the German trip.
“[I felt]we weren’t just scouting Arsenal, we’re scouting this experience,” Fox told AVTV. “This is what we want to bring back to our fans, this is a club that used to have that, it would be fantastic to bring that back starting with the Europa League.”
Of course, this is pretty standard ideology of a Villa CEO. I once stood with former Villa CEO Paul Faulkner in the Trinity Road stand on a Thursday night overlooking a majestic looking empty stadium and half-joked to Faulkner, “There should be European football here tonight!” His reply was pretty much what Fox said above.
Holte End Potential
However far away the return of European nights are to Villa Park, there is something that Villa supporters can affect and that Lambert identified from his Dortmund trip in a recent interview he did with the Daily Telegraph.
What Lambert said in that recent interview echoes the thoughts of MOMS, some other Villa groups and the majority of those Villa supporters who answered the recent MOMS survey.
‘Only 3% of supporters said the atmosphere [of Villa Park] was ‘fine as it is’
Lambert touched on the potential of what the Holte End could be.
“The Holte End could be like the Yellow Wall,” Lambert told the Telegraph. “The Holte End holds close to 14,000. That Dortmund end holds 26,000, fewer when the seats are in (for Europe).
“You want an end like that, [with] flags and everything,” he added.
Holte End Desire
To the question of the atmosphere of Villa Park only 3% of supporters said the atmosphere was ‘fine as it is’, while another 3% said it was the unavoidable circumstance of the soulless state of the modern game.
In answer to the question ‘Would you like to see more atmosphere at Villa Park with more banners, flags, displays etc?’ 91% of fans answered a variation of ‘yes’.
Interestingly, there was an overwhelming majority within the ‘yes’ vote in favour of taking things to the next level and realising what Lambert was wishing for.
|Yes, we should go all out with big Holte End displays and make Villa Park the best atmosphere in the English game||57%|
|Yes, more effort and improvements are needed.||17%|
|Yes, but It’s up to the players to inspire the crowd||17%|
|The modern game is soulless, deal with it!||3%|
|It’s fine as it is||3%|
Holte End Action
Certainly there’s potential for the Holte End to make a real name for itself; as a terrace it used to be one of the biggest in Europe. Even with the size of the Holte with seats in, Villa supporters still have the infrastructure there to put on the kind of atmosphere the club’s manager alludes to.
We’ve had ‘bring a scarf days’ and ’12th man days’ in the past that weren’t executed with much conviction. It takes more than simple Facebook and Twitter posts to effect what happens in the stands.
The anniversary celebration of the closing of the Holte terrace at the last home game of last season against Hull City, was a step in the right direction though. Fans – with their inflatables and balloons – produced one of the best home atmospheres in recent memory.
It would be good to multiple that effort by three or five times though.
MOMS has proposed before that we should use the 140th anniversary of the club to have a celebration on a match day. As well as celebrating the anniversary, the main drive was to create of culture and thirst for supporters being more involved and active on match days.
It’s alright talking about potential Holte End atmospheres, but we need action and a 140th anniversary was a decent enough starting point. Some supporters say, we should wait for the 150th anniversary to celebrate Villa’s tradition, but this really isn’t about what is a suitable anniversary, this is about actually doing something now, rather than finding excuses to not.
The main motivation should be to create a ‘shock and awe’ atmosphere on the Holte.
If fans do something now, we will learn how and hopefully get into the habit of making the Holte End one of the best shows in the Premier League. It will also lift the team and the club. Most importantly, it that provides more enjoyment and value for their ticket price for supporters.
Also, after 10-years of practice, we’ll be a well-oiled machine when it comes to properly celebrating the 150th anniversary of the club in 10 years time.
Modern Game vs Tradition
There had been an ideal match date for such a celebration for Villa supporters. It’s been established by various Villa historians that the club came to be on Saturday 21st November 1874, fast-forward 140 years and Villa were playing at home on Saturday 22nd November against Southampton. It would have been the perfect day for the Holte End to put on a show and celebrate our heritage, that is until Sky, in its wisdom, moved the date to the following Monday evening. So, much for tradition.
A celebration is better suited to a Saturday 3pm, but which game now would provide a suitable occasion to see what we can do with the Holte, in terms of displays and creating the ultimate party atmosphere?
Since fans argue over the exact date of when Villa was formed, perhaps the best idea is to put the choice of game to a vote. Select a handful of decent looking ties and then conduct a poll (then lobby Sky not to change the date of the winning fixture!).
Of course, Villa fans would need to give ourselves a few months to prepare, so it is perhaps wise to only consider games in the New Year (we’ll speak to other Villa supporters about this and get back to you).
Let us know in the comments below what your thoughts and ideas would be for such a celebration on a match day. Alternately, send us an email at: contact [at} myoldmansaid.com
Lets get the ball rolling.
*Yellow Wall photo credit – Andreas Fozzman (Flickr)