It’s Aston Villa coast to coast! Covering the Left, er, West Coast of North America, sports fanatic and Seattle Lions Club chairman Chris Fetters preaches the gospel of the claret and blue—when he isn’t making footy pilgrimages to the land of Brum.
Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?
I was born and raised in Seattle, went off to college and came back to Seattle, where I currently reside. I am the Editor-In-Chief of Dawgman.com, a website dedicated to covering University of Washington sports and recruiting. I also contribute to Sports Washington Magazine and am a host on a weekly radio show on Sports Radio KJR 950 AM, talking Washington football, men’s basketball, and recruiting. I am also a contributing recruiting analyst with Scout.com, part of FOX Sports.
How and when did you choose Villa?
Around 2007, a cousin of mine from Wisconsin moved to Seattle, also for work, and we started hanging out quite a bit. Matt is a massive Everton fan and talked to me about joining him at a local pub called The George and Dragon to watch Premier League games, so I started watching soccer again. At first I was watching Everton games and really started enjoying the game again for the first time in a very long time. It was like riding a bike; you don’t ever seem to really forget what it’s like and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it again. The George is about a ten-minute drive from my home in Ballard, a Seattle neighborhood, so I soon started going to games on my own. At that time I hit a couple of Aston Villa games. Martin O’Neill was managing and Martin Laursen had just retired. They had also just signed Brad Friedel, so that intrigued me as an American watching English football.
I also remember Emile Heskey joining the team around that time. If I remember correctly, it was a stretch of a few games where they played Sunderland and Portsmouth, maybe a couple of other teams. But in watching the games, Villa just stood out to me. It’s hard to explain now, but there was just something about how they played. I remember Cuellar and Luke Young in the back, Milner, Petrov, Barry, and Ashley Young in the midfield and Gabby and Big John Carew up front. They were fun to watch, and they were winning too! Once I realized I was getting hooked on the Premiership, I knew I wanted to follow a team. I knew I couldn’t support Everton, because that was my cousin’s team, and I certainly wasn’t going to be following the “Big Four”—that was too cliché and boring to me. So the more I followed Villa, the more I appreciated how they played the game. And then I started going to the message boards like Heroes & Villains and Villa Talk and delved into the history of the club. It was a massive club! And they also had Acorns as their shirt sponsor, and learning more about their association with Acorns simply solidified what I kind of knew in my mind for a while—Aston Villa was going to be my club. I picked them, but in some strange way I feel like they picked me too. And I’ve never looked back!
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
A couple stand out . . . first, playing in Wembley in the League Cup final in 2010. Even though it wasn’t the result we wanted, getting a chance to enjoy that whole cup run—including that wild 6-4 tie at Villa Park against Blackburn—showed me just how exhilarating English soccer could be, as well as the roller coaster it can take you on. The second was the run at the end of last year, with the wins versus Sunderland and at Norwich being the real highlights . . . that run of fixtures showed me that the players were buying in to Paul Lambert and his vision for the future, and we’ve obviously seen a lot of that carry over into this year.
What was your most painful moment?
Again, the League Cup loss stung, and especially how it went down early with the Vidic penalty that should have been a sending off (in my opinion). But I would have to say the most painful moments have been the other Manchester United games—like the one at Old Trafford where Macheda (what has he done since?) scored the winner and then the 3-2 loss at Villa Park when Chicarito scored a brace to steal the points. For some reason, those losses to the Red Devils have always stung most—as well as any time the Mighty Villa have lost to the Blues. Those are excruciating.
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?
Liverpool, just because of who they are, and, of course, because they have the guy everyone loves to hate: Suarez. And I also have a soft spot for Everton through my best friends and family and they are the second team I (quietly) root for when the Villa aren’t on. The year they won 3-1 at Anfield with the Ashley Young penalty at the end, there was a great picture of the scoreboard . . . I made that into a t-shirt!
Who is your favorite player on the current squad?
Ashley Westwood. I had the distinct privilege of being able to travel over to England this past spring and catch up with some of the Lions from Kidderminster that I met in Chicago the summer before, and with them I was able to experience the win at Stoke with that Lowton golazo! That was an experience I will never forget. But during that trip I also wanted to experience a lower league game, and since there’s seemingly always been a connection between the Villa and Crewe I decided to go see them play at the Alexandra. Well, when I was there I got to meet Ashley Westwood’s father Kevin, who works on the grounds, as well as Ashley’s grandparents. Finer people in this world you’re not likely to meet. Kevin let it be known that I was in town to see Ashley’s old club and that I’d come all the way from Seattle in America to see it, and their PR man gave me a signed picture of Ashley in the Wembley Stadium locker room the night they secured promotion to League One. Not that I needed to be persuaded of Westwood as a player—I’ve always thought he was a very solid addition from the start—but the personal touch from his family and his extended family at Crewe just put it over the top for me. I had the picture framed and it’s in my office.
Who is your favorite player of all time?
I have a soft spot for John Carew. I admit it fully and without reservation. I know he was a big lump and probably didn’t give his all at times defensively (not that he was necessarily being asked to be that guy), but, boy, he scored some cracking goals and he just had a nose for the net—as well as that head of his. And of course, there’s the song . . . .
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
I don’t know how I rate (and I suppose ultimately that’s for others to decide), but I know I’m VTID. They’ve got me for better or worse, so I guess my loyalty would be my best quality. Worst qualities? Probably that I live half a world away from the Holte End, so I don’t get to support the Villa the way I’d like to—but I’m trying to get there at least once at year (and hopefully twice in 2014) to let them know there are boys nearly two oceans away that bleed claret and blue.
Where do you usually watch games?
If the game is on telly, it’s always at the George and Dragon in a hip little part of Seattle called Fremont. Almost every ex-pat that I’ve talked to—and we have a fair number, interestingly enough—have told me the pub is the closest they’ve come to an authentic English pub experience in the States. It’s owned by two ex-pats—one is a Hereford fan and the other an Arsenal supporter—and they are terrific. Love the George. It’s definitely the “official unofficial bar of the AVFC Seattle Lions.”
What are you usually drinking?
Anything from Rainier to Bass to Strongbow to a “Twlya” (named after a good friend of mine who is a United supporter), which is basically a coconut cuba libre. During the winter months I’ll go for a hot buttered rum or any number of concoctions the staff decide is in my best interests (not often the case, by the way—especially, say, after a half-dozen or so). My tastes vary, and I like to keep it somewhat interesting.
If you could sign any player from any other team for Villa, who would it be and why?
In this case, it’s a guy I’d like to sign back . . . Michael Bradley. He’s been killing it for Roma and he just didn’t get the time he deserved when with the Villa. He’s probably not the super creator we need at the moment, but he would work his socks off and really solidify our midfield. I think he’d also give us a little more going forward than what we currently have.