Did you know that women support Aston Villa, too? Yes, it’s true! (Not that you’d know that by reading my previous Friday posts.) I am pleased to introduce you to our first female Villan of the Week, the Reverend Ann Fuller. A supporter since 2007, Ann has forged a strong bond with the team and helped others do so as well, both as the founding chair of the Florida Lions and . . . well, read on, you’ll see.
The Starting Eleven
Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?
I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and now reside in Melbourne, Florida. I am a community minister associated with two Unitarian Universalist congregations.
How and when did you choose Villa?
I’ve been a player and fan of the sport as long as I can remember, but didn’t really start following the EPL extremely closely until we were able to regularly get matches on cable television in the U.S. Before that I was pretty much restricted to absorbing as much international football as I could. I chose Villa at the start of the 2007–08 season, so I’m quite the newcomer to the AVFC family. I wanted to follow a top team, but not one of the massive bandwagon clubs. I liked the American connection with Randy Lerner and Brad Friedel, but was particularly drawn to Villa’s community engagement and philanthropic connections.
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
Personally, I had a blast officiating the wedding of a fellow Villa supporter. On the pitch, I’m happiest when Villa win against Chelsea since my twin sister insists on supporting that whiney club.
What was your most painful moment?
Whenever I find out we have Phil Dowd officiating an upcoming match. I also didn’t much fancy the drubbing we experienced at the hands of Chelsea on 23/12/12. I lost my shirt with that one . . . literally. Never bet your kit!
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?
Chelsea by at least five goals (see above).
Who is your favorite player on the current squad?
Brad Guzan. Again, it’s that American connection, but two of my children are goalkeepers (the thirteen-year-old will be following in Guzan’s footsteps some day, the kid is scary good) and I think Guzan’s a good keeper to watch for his excellent skills and sportsmanship. I have really enjoyed watching him excel in both the Villa and U.S. nets. I’d like to see him have as long a career as Friedel.
Who is your favorite player of all time?
At Villa, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Martin Laursen and was saddened at his untimely retirement due to injury. I was a defender when I played (also ousted from the sport by injury), so I tend to observe the back line closely when watching a match. I just always admired his play and wished I could have had his set-piece brilliance when I was on the pitch.
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
I typically go straight to the club’s official website or click through links shared by various groups on Facebook. I can also rely on my sister to send me anything negative or embarrassing about Villa. I stay pretty plugged in.
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
I’m incredibly loyal. I’d still be a Villa supporter if they were playing in League Two . . . but that’s never going to happen. On the other hand, I have a tendency to assume the worst possible outcome and really should have more confidence in the manager and the squad at times. I overcompensate when preparing for disappointment. On the other hand, that means I’m often pleasantly surprised.
Where do you usually watch games?
I usually watch games at home with friends and family. We’re quite fortunate to get every single EPL match televised now. The time difference and having to record matches to watch later due to schedule conflicts, means watching one live at a pub is a rare treat.
What are you usually drinking?
When it’s 7:45 in the morning it’s going to be coffee or tea. If I’m watching after 10:00 I’m likely to have a glass of white wine or a hard cider in my hand.
Who do you think has been Villa’s best-ever manager, and why?
The history geek in me loves George Ramsay and he has a record that speaks for itself. As for the managers who have held the reins at Villa since I’ve become a supporter, I’d have to say I’m keeping my eye on Lambert to become one of Villa’s top managers ever. I think he’s certainly got the potential if he has the right kind of support.