Because this blog is as much about being a fan as it is about Aston Villa, I thought it would be fun to hear from other fans, too. So please allow me to introduce the first Villan of the Week: novelist Andrew Grant. Andrew is a perfect choice because he was the first Villan I met in Chicago—and, for a long time, he was the only other Villan I knew! It’s now my privilege to call him a friend. After reading his answers below, I’m sure you’ll want to visit his website at www.andrewgrantbooks.com to learn more about what he does when he’s not cheering on the claret and blue.
The Starting Eleven
Where were you born, and where do you live now?
I was born in a part of Birmingham called Handsworth Wood, and I now live in Lincoln Park, Chicago.
How and when did you choose Villa?
When I was in elementary school. It was very tribal, back then. There were roughly equal numbers of Villa fans and Baggies in my class, but my brother was solidly in the claret and blue corner so that tipped the balance.
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
This is probably not a very original answer, but I’d have to say it was hearing the final whistle blow in Rotterdam in 1982. On TV, I should add. I wasn’t lucky enough to be there!
What was your most painful moment?
Relegation, in 1987. It was nothing short of vandalism, the way the team was destroyed only five years after winning the European cup.
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?
Same as every year—Birmingham City! At Wembley, in the final of the FA Cup . . . .
Who is your favorite player on the current squad?
Gabby Agbonlahor. How many players in this day and age join their local club when they’re seven and stay for their whole careers?
Who is your favorite player of all time?
Paul McGrath. I’d go to matches just to watch him.
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
My best quality as a fan is that at the start of every season, I always believe that this year’s going to be different. My worst quality as a fan is that at the start of every season, I always believe that this year’s going to be different.
Where do you usually watch games?
These days—as the Holte End is an inconvenient 4,000 miles away—I usually watch Villa games at The Globe Pub on Irving Park Road, Chicago.
What are you usually drinking?
They’ve stopped serving my favourite beer (Old Speckled Hen) so I usually drink whichever pint is on special . . . .
Extra Time (this question is different for each Villan)
What makes a Villa fan different from, say, a fan of Manchester United?
Understanding that football matches last 90 minutes?