I continue my survey of North America-Based Villans You Should Know with Michael Pearson—a man who, if you cut him, will bleed claret and blue. (Not that I am suggesting you cut him; that would be a terribly unkind thing to do to such a nice guy.) Among his many other activities in support of Aston Villa, he is the chairman of the Detroit Lions Club, which you can like on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and join as an official member by signing up here. I was first introduced to Michael at the North American Villans meetup in Chicago . . . and, come to think of it, I still owe him a drink!
The Starting Eleven
Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?
I was born and raised in Nuneaton and lived there until I was 18, when I moved to Spain. Then I was back home on and off for the next 8 years as I worked and traveled. In 2007, after a looooong story I moved to the U.S. for a girl (CRAZY, I KNOW) and I now live in the state of Michigan in a town called Rochester that is about 45 minutes from Detroit. I very proudly work for a British luxury watch brand called Bremont. I am their Director for North America which means I can travel across the country, and, in each city across the States and Canada, I have the opportunity to meet Villa supporters and football fans.
How and when did you choose Villa?
Growing up in Nuneaton, we had “Nuneaton Borough” (now Town) as a local team, but, as far as First Division and Premier League teams, we had so much to choose from in and around the Midlands. My dad was never particularly fond of one team and my uncle used to take me to see Coventry City at Highfield Road as a nipper. At school I had tons of United, Liverpool, and Cov fans for friends all around me but I do remember going down the M6 to Brum to shop on a Saturday afternoon when I was really young and Villa Park just looked immense. And when David Platt scored that goal against Belgium in Italia ’90 . . . I was hooked!! NO CONTEST, REALLY!!
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
We have not had huge success in my lifetime so the small successes really stand out for me. Winning the Coca-Cola Cup always springs to mind, but the win on penalties against Inter Milan in the UEFA Cup will always be a time as a youngster that will always stay with me.
What was your most painful moment?
I hated the “goal” that Small Heath scored against us from the throw to Enckleman from Olof . . . HATED IT! I only have one mate who is a Blues fan and his abuse sickened me to the core.
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?
Honestly, I have two things that I want to happen (apart from win the FA Cup and finish 8th). I want us to beat Man United, we have been better than them time and time again and we have managed to lose or draw every time. This season is our best chance to show the world what we are capable of becoming. And I also want to beat the Baggies home and away to stop any doubt in the media or up the road that we are the biggest team in the Midlands!
Who is your favorite player on the current squad?
I love Gabby! He is pure Villa and for some reason he looks great banging in the goals in front of the Holte but I could also imagine having a beer with him and celebrating a Villa win as a mate. TOP BLOKE! He is one of us and I think he encapsulates what we, as fans want in a Villa player. Pace, heart, determination and true passion for the fans and the stadium!
Who is your favorite player of all time?
I mentioned Platt before as the solidification for my support for Villa but my main time watching Villa and falling in love with the club as a kid was in the 1990s, so I would have to say Dwight Yorke will always be my top Villan. He played with a smile on his face and seemed to really appreciated what we did for him.
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
It used to be teletext as a kid but I think Villa do a great job on their website and social media outlets so I start there. The fans supporters groups are incredible as well. True fans who have the ability to let people like me and the rest of the expats around the world know what the atmosphere in the stadium was like or re-sing the new songs in the stands on away days etc. I cannot be in the stands as much as I would like but I am home for three or four games a season (next game will be Palace on boxing day) so thankfully social media from the club and the fans can keep me up to date!
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
I am big fan and I would myself 9 out of 10 for passion and love for the club but 7 out of 10 because I cannot see every game live and be a part of the Holte and the fan base first, this is why I started the Detroit AVFC supporters club so I can at least try and let Michigan know that you don’t have to support the so called ‘BIG CLUBS’ because in 1874 ASTON VILLA F.C was formed and if want a team with true history and massive potential then why look anywhere else? So my best quality is true passion for the club telling people who we are and what we could be and I will tell ANYONE about us!
My worst qualities as a fan are probably that I hope too much and take each defeat very badly. I am not the best person to be around after a loss . . . but is that really too bad?
Where do you usually watch games?
At the Hamlin Pub in Rochester, Michigan. On any given game day there are between 30–100 Brits (from the car industry) in there watching the footy, with fans of all clubs enjoying the games with great banter—and the breakfast is only $3! It is the place I love to watch the Villa the most in America.
What are you usually drinking?
Guinness . . . love the stuff!
Rewriting the past: if you could go back and change one thing, anything, in Aston Villa’s history, what would that be?
If I could rewrite the past there are two things I would do:
- I wish to God that Doug Ellis would’ve signed Robbie Keane when he had the chance. We would have won the league that year!
I would have NEVER had put Alex McLeish as Aston Villa manager, we will never truly understand why Lerner did it but we will always have that year as a black part of our footballing memory!
Finishing positively, myself and the rest of the AVFC supporters here in the USA and Canada love the Villa and were featured in the Newcastle program for the money we raised for Acorns and the passion we have for the club and even though we don’t live in B6 WE BLOODY LOVE IT!!!