Chicago Lions chairman Simon Leach in a typical pose
Chicago Lions chairman Simon Leach in a typical pose

Today’s Villan of the Week is a man you need to know about. As chairman of the Chicago Lions Club, Simon Leach works tirelessly to spread the word about the claret and blue and to welcome new supporters to the fold. He organized an extremely well attended meetup of North American Villans last month in Chicago, drawing attendees from coast to coast, and he’s already rallying the troops for a North American invasion of Birmingham next May. Ladies and gentlemen…Simon Leach!

The Starting 11

Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?

St Chad’s Hospital, Edgbaston, but grew up in Droitwich Spa. My journey has taken me to Portsmouth, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Swindon, Chicago, Orlando and Houston, but I am now back in one of my favourite cities in the world, Chicago, where I work as a strategic sourcing manager for a slot machine manufacturer!

How and when did you choose Villa?

Despite most of my friends being bluenose fans, I resisted the temptation to go down that dark and dirty path. My first game was the League Cup Final vs Norwich in 1975 at Wembley. I do not remember anything about that game (I was 6 years old at the time), and to be honest, I am not sure why my Dad took me to the game as he was not a hardcore Villa supporter, but I guess it was fate, and I have never looked back.

“…it just blows my mind that I can be so far away from B6, but still have the ability to share my passion with equally passionate supporters.”

What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?

Simon Leach (center right) with Players' Player and Supporters' Player of the Year Brad Guzan
Simon Leach (center right) with Players’ Player and Supporters’ Player of the Year Brad Guzan

Tough question. There have been so many that, in all seriousness, it is hard to put my finger on one. This last 12–18 months though have been almost like a dream, though. From the tremendous support we had here in Chicago for the friendly at Toyota Park, and how well all the plans came together for that game, to the amazing honour of presenting Brad Guzan the player of the year award at the gala dinner last May, and then more recently the unbelievable turnout we had for the first North American Villans meetup (again here in Chicago), it just blows my mind that I can be so far away from B6, but still have the ability to share my passion with equally passionate supporters.

What was your most painful moment?

Losing 2-0 to BCFC on 03/03/03. Not only was it a terrible game to lose at home, but it is the most vicious atmosphere I have ever witnessed at a game. This was the only time I have left a game early because I feared for my safety.

Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?

Manchester United. What I would give for us to finally hold onto a 2-0 lead against them!

Who is your favorite player on the current squad?

Brad Guzan for his ties to Chicago, but Weimann is becoming my favourite player. The guy bleeds claret and blue!

Who is your favorite player of all time?

Gary Shaw. It was such a sad day when he had to retire early. He had such a promising career ahead of him.

What are your favorite sources for Villa news?

My friends, via Facebook, nowadays. Having been addicted to other forums for too long, I try to limit my time searching up and down the internet for news.

Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?

Wow, what a question. I just think I am a normal fan who has to deal with the distance issues.

Where do you usually watch games?

The Globe Pub on Irving Park Road.

What are you usually drinking?

Whatever is on special offer, or any new brews they may have on tap.

Extra Time

What is your all-time Aston Villa starting eleven?

Subject to change 🙂

  1. Jimmy Rimmer
  2. Kenny Swain
  3. Wilfred Bouma
  4. Alan Evans
  5. Olof Mellberg
  6. Dennis Mortimer
  7. Ian Taylor
  8. Gordon Cowans
  9. Juan Pablo Angel
  10. Gary Shaw
  11. Tony Morley