I met Rick Edwards last August, at the now legendary gathering of the North American Villans in Chicago. At the Friday night friendly before Villa’s now even more legendary win over Arsenal, Rick was the guy standing on the sidelines, displaying a dry wit as the game unrolled—I mean, unfolded. (But look at this photo and you’ll see why I might have used the wrong word.) At any rate, to me, Rick epitomizes the ex-pat Villans I’ve met: despite his deep knowledge and lifelong support of the team, he’s never one to pull rank, and warmly welcomes newer fans like myself to the fold. Villans—best fans in the world!
The Starting Eleven
Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?
I was born in Tewkesbury (about 40 miles from Villa Park) and moved to Chicago in 1986. I settled in New Buffalo, Michigan, a year later, where I met my wife, Brenda. New Buffalo is a resort town on Lake Michigan, about an hour across the lake from Chicago. I am a builder/contractor and have been in the trades since I left school. I enjoy the job and the satisfaction of looking at something I created.
How and when did you choose Villa?
My dad Pete was a massive Villa fan and he ran office bus trips to Midlands games—Villa away to Albion, Villa at Wolves, but NEVER to Blues! He gave me his cup final ticket in 1975 vs Norwich and I have been hooked ever since! He always said it was worth giving his ticket up. I was a season-ticket holder from late 1970s on and we had a bus from Tewkesbury to all home games. A friend of Dad’s (Jeff Price) was a steward on the Holte End so I would hitchhike to some mid-week games and catch a ride home with him.
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
My happiest moment has to be that day in Rotterdam when we were crowned European Champions (although I watched the game at home with my best bud, Dave Gibbs, and quite a few beers). A close second, though, was the second replay of the 1977 League Cup Final—singing through the streets of Manchester, surrounded by Villans, was amazing. And that Chris Nicholl goal! I was behind that goal and it still gives me shivers watching it. And I must mention the North American Villans meet-up in Chicago as well, meeting so many of the Villa family and beating Arsenal was special indeed!
What was your most painful moment?
The 8–0 loss to Chelsea. I sat with my nephew Jake, and watching it was pure pain.
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?
Chelsea! Without a doubt. I remember them as a nothing London club with crowds less than 20,000, and then the Abramovich money came in and football as I knew it was ruined. Glory hunters wearing shirts of teams they have never watched or will ever watch in person is the norm—yes, I hate Chelsea!
Who is your favorite player on the current squad?
Fabian Delph. I have always loved seeing a midfielder that runs at the opposition.
Who is your favorite player of all time?
I’ve had lots of favorites through the years, Chico Hamilton being the first. Brian Little would probably be my all-time favorite, though—I was at his debut game. And a special mention to Alex Cropley, who was as good as anybody, but his career came to an end due to a shocking tackle by Ally Brown of West Brom. I was there and the atmosphere was hostile to say the least after that!
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
Facebook, the Aston Villa Loyal Fan page is one I check daily for some good discussion (mostly level headed). And News Now Aston Villa is very good with constant updates. Also Mat Kendrick on Twitter.
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
I would say a 9.5 only losing the .5 because I can not be there in person. I did drive the five-and-a-half hours to Columbus, and went to Chicago with nephew Jake and my brother Craig.
Worst quality is the distance to Villa Park (Jake will be there for Palace and Swansea, though) and the fact I can be a miserable bastard (so I’ve been told) when we lose.
Where do you usually watch games?
I usually watch at home, thanks to the new NBC deal—no more dodgy streams!
But I try and get to The Globe to meet up with the Villa family that keeps getting bigger, I’m proud to say.
What are you usually drinking?
Any decent cider. I’ve also been known to drink a few High Lifes due to them fitting my budget perfectly.
What is the funniest thing you have ever seen happen during a game?
Probably Chris Nicholl scoring all 4 goals in a 2–2 draw against Leicester City. But we did have fun meeting Athletico Bilbao fans and the bags of wine they carried with them!