Before we’ve even kicked off, there’s one aspect of Saturday where Villa have us beaten hands down. The famous fan count.
Delia Smith, Stephen Fry and (allegedly) Hugh Jackman? Ha! Who the flipping heck are they?
Villa can boast (token I guess) support from HRH Prince William and former Prime Minister David Cameron. Plus two obviously genuine supporters in musical legends from opposite sides of that particular spectrum in eccentric, claret and blue scarf-wearing violinist Nigel Kennedy and… the one and only Geezer Butler, the Black Sabbath bass player.
To say Geezer is so much a hero of mine that I named the first of our two dogs after him is simply true. He even had his final stage bass custom painted in Villa colours and used to put one of their pennants up in his dressing room before every Sabbath gig when they were on the road. Geezer is an Aston boy from Brum and a true fan of his club, just like our readers and writers are of ours.
When Villa appointed Tim Sherwood as manager, Geezer (not our dog) famously misheard and thought the interviewer was talking about Radio One DJ Tim Westwood. His response was roughly: “Wow! That’s strange but we’d better give him a chance”.
But this MFW writer chooses not to speak with Royalty (as if!) and Geezer’s management are difficult to reach (I did briefly try, believe it or not) so it’s over to Pat Moore from barbershop royalty Croppers in The Lanes, who are possibly best known for politely telling Liam to go away and find somewhere else for a trim the night Oasis were playing The Waterfront in the 1990s – too many local clients in situ to let you go to the top of the queue, young Gallagher.
So Pat, why and how Villa?
I’m getting the Liam Gallagher one out of the way first – we sent him to Gatsby’s and he got his cut from them!
So Pat, why and how Villa (reprise)?
Well, I went to a game at Carrow Road and liked the Villa colours and the way they played. I was about eight and I took a shine to them. Simple as. Quite a few years later Nick, the Croppers owner, took me to Chelsea and we won – Peter Crouch scored twice and people forget he played for us. I was completely hooked.
I certainly had forgotten that – although we both remembered Crouchy playing for City. Pat is a Norwich lad through and through. So what did he think of our debacle at Villa Park earlier in the season?
Well, the Hourihane hat-trick was something special. A very one-sided match in every way.
At this point, Pat launches into a list of his favourite Villains, with a surprising choice at the top of the shop.
Tony Daley. Loved him and an all-time fave. Others I particularly like have been Paul McGrath, Juan Pablo Angel, Ian Taylor, Steve Staunton and Mark Bosnic – I love all the characters.
Well, Bosnic was certainly a character. We agreed that we both remembered and liked Peter Withe and Gordon Cowans before I asked Pat what he reckoned of Gareth Southgate?
He was good, steady and dependable. Yeah, thumbs up.
And how do you reckon he’ll do with England?
At this point, all of us sat around a table at Micawbers Tavern degenerated into spasms of laughter and a short outburst of shared foul language followed by physically rolling around. “Not very well” paraphrases Pat’s answer to my question on Southgate and NOBODY at our table disagreed with him.
So what does Pat think of the current Villa ownership?
It’s all right at the minute. Jeez, we moaned about Doug Ellis and then got Randy Lerner in. Doug’s still alive and kicking and if I’m not in the North Stand at games I’ll be in the Doug Ellis. I only get casual tickets these days as I don’t drive and train travel is problematic for me just now but I go whenever I can.
Your favourite memory?
Well, I thought it would have been when an ex-girlfriend got me a signed shirt from our Bodgmoore Heath training ground. It featured our worst players of the century and I was massively disappointed when I saw the names on it. I wasn’t fussed about any single one of them. We’ll call that an unfavourite memory!
So who turns you on just now Villa-wise?
I’m not a massive Grealish fan but I quite like like Albert Adomah. Sometimes it seems like half the team is on loan. Gabby (Agbonlahor) is still around and he just loves scoring against you! And we’ve got Lewis Grabban. We blow a bit hot and cold so it’s always a bit ‘let’s see’ with us.
So, will you make it to the promised land of the PL?
Yeah – we’ll do it. Via the playoffs, cos there’s too much catch up for automatic, although we still have to play Cardiff.
At this point we discuss ‘Colin’ and agree, without any rolling around or ribaldry, that – grudgingly – he is worthy of respect.
So, shall I give you a wave from the Barclay on matchday Pat?
No, because I’ll be in bloody Thailand! It’s a 12:30 KO so by about six Thai time I’ll be in a nice comfortable bar with your Missus’ son, me shouting for the Villa and your Jonny quietly accepting the inevitable. 2-1 to us. Adomah and Grabban will score. And when we charge you £20 and you hit back with £35 for us for a matchday ticket I’m glad I’m watching it on the telly in Asia for free. That price is taking the juice.
Many thanks to Pat for the chat, Jonny for taking the picture and Rachel at Micawbers for putting up with us!