I met Simon Tissington last August in Chicago when, as goalkeeper for the North American Villans, he impressed as one of the fittest and most talented players on the North American Villans starting 11. (His shaven-headed style prompted me to dub him “Littlest Brad” in my account of the game—though his dodgy ‘stache below calls to mind a certain badass called Begbie in a movie called Trainspotting . . . you may have heard of it.) The following day, when his bet on the Arsenal game paid off handsomely, he treated everyone wearing a Villa shirt to a pint of Stella. Next time, the drinks are on me, Simon!
The Starting Eleven
Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?
I was born in Nottingham but grew up in Gloucester. Once I moved out of home, I lived in Edgbaston, Birmingham. I came to sunny San Diego 20 years ago on what was supposed to be a 4- or 5-month backpacking visit and have been here ever since! I now co-own a property disaster restoration company and have been in the industry for 17 years.
How and when did you choose Villa?
Villa officially chose me around 1980 when I was 10 years old. I remember seeing Tony Morley score the goal of the season against Everton in the 1980-81 season, and from that point on, I was Villa through and through. After they won the league that year there was no turning back.
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
Happiest moment? Duh! Watching Villa win the European Cup in 1982!!! I remember being allowed to stay up late to watch the end of the match and then running around the house in my pajamas at the final whistle! I don’t think I slept a wink that night I was buzzing so hard from the excitement!
What was your most painful moment?
The most painful moment was seeing us get relegated in 1987. Fortunately, it didn’t last long as we bounced straight back up the next year. I have to admit that I did have a few flashbacks towards the end of last season before we pulled ourselves out of danger!
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?
I want to see us get drawn against Birmingham City in the FA Cup and rip them apart! As far as Premiership competition, probably West Brom, due to the derby element and the fact that their fans keep on insisting that they are the best team in the Midlands right now. Obsessed with the Villa they are!!!
Who is your favorite player on the current squad?
I’ve played the position of goalkeeper since I was about seven years old, so I tend to watch the keepers more than most. I think Brad Guzan is a fantastic keeper and is not even close to realizing his full potential. I watched him when he played for Chivas U.S.A. and he has come on in leaps and bounds. I believe he is going to push Tim Howard all the way for the U.S. national team’s #1 shirt in Brazil. I also think Fabian Delph is going to be one to watch for the future.
Who is your favorite player of all time?
My favorite player of all time has to be Peter Withe, mainly because of THAT goal in ’82. I can still see the ball bobbling up unpredictably in the six yard box and bouncing off his shin guard into the back of the net. Nigel Spink is a close second. His performance coming in cold from the bench after 10 minutes is legendary.
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
The usual: The official AVFC website, Facebook forums, Birmingham newpaper websites. I really need to get up to speed with this Twitter thing, though. I understand it’s also a great way to keep up to date on the latest news.
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
Rate myself? Completely bonkers for the Villa! I’ll do whatever it takes to watch when they are playing. I recently put NBC’s streaming service to good use to watch the Liverpool match in a church at a friend’s wedding. It could have been a little awkward if we had netted in that game! My worst quality is that I tend to dwell on poor performances for way to long. I’ve been told that I can become quite the grump after a loss.
Where do you usually watch games?
I’ll watch wherever I have to. Usually, if they are showing the game live, you’ll find me at Shakespeare’s Pub in San Diego. We have small but dedicated group of Villans that congregate on a regular basis and I am always recruiting (especially Yanks that are either new to the sport or have been sitting on the fence, undecided about where their allegiance should lie). We’ve recently discovered the Griffin Pub in San Diego, too: they screened last week’s game on their 16-foot HD screen. This may just move them into the number-one spot for future viewing. I try to get back to Brum as much as I can to take in a game live. [Editor’s note: Simon was in the Holte End last weekend for the Cardiff game, singing his heart out!]
What are you usually drinking?
Depends if it’s a “quality” or “quantity” type of occasion! If its “quality” then I’ll enjoy one of the many excellent IPAs that are brewed locally here in the San Diego area. If it’s “quantity,” then the “wife beater” (Stella) is my go-to beer as anybody that attended the Chicago meetup will attest! I’m also not afraid to buy every Villa fan in the pub a beer if I hit a nice little bet on the Claret & Blue.
Doctor Frankenstein, I presume: make the perfect player out of three or more.
Hmmm . . . Gabby’s pace, Gareth Barry for his midfield presence, Benteke for his physicality and aerial abilities, Ashley Young for his wicked right footed service into the box (even though he’s crap for United now), and John Carew for one of the best songs ever!