If you’ve been following this blog, you know that the Villans of the Week run the gamut, from a Canadian who usually cheers alone to a native Southerner who founded Florida’s first Lions Club—from fans with little history to fans with lots of it. And, every now and then, we even profile someone who grew up in Birmingham and followed the team of his father. (Before global TV, that would have been practically every Villa fan, right?) So, this week, meet Brian Hanna, a guy I met at the Globe and who clearly knows the words to the songs. (Click here for a picture of Brian demonstrating his vocal prowess.)
And stay tuned for next Friday, when you’ll get to know Brian’s wife, Nik—making them the first married Villans of the Week!
The Starting Eleven
Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?
I was born in London UK in 1971 of Irish parents. After moving between Ireland and the UK for a couple of years, we finally settled in Birmingham in 1975. I moved to New Lenox, Illinois, in 2012—my wife is originally from there. I work for an aluminum company, making large tool boxes for trucks.
How and when did you choose Villa?
I came to be a Villa fan like most other people, I guess. Villa were the team my dad started following when we moved to Birmingham in the 1970s. My first game was a League Cup tie in September 1978 against Sheffield Wednesday. Villa won 1-0 and I spent the game watching through the gap in the fences at the front of the Holte End.
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
That would be the 1994 League Cup Final. Me and my sister had managed to get tickets and it was Villa’s first Cup Final appearance since 1977 v Everton. We were playing Manchester United, who were chasing the treble, so Villa fans turned up thinking they were going to enjoy the day out—amazingly, we beat the mighty Reds 3-1 that day. It’s just an amazing experience to see your team win at Wembley, and I’ll never forget it.
What was your most painful moment?
The FA Cup final against Chelsea—the last Cup Final at the old Wembley. Villa had beaten Leeds, Everton, and Bolton in the semifinal (also at Wembley) on their way to Final. I think our hopes were high. Benito Carbone had been a star for us, including an amazing goal in a 3-2 win over Leeds in an earlier round. But the final was one of the worst in living memory, Gregory’s Villa never turned up and we lost 1-0 to Chelsea. The feeling on coach on the way home was awful, such a missed opportunity to win the FA Cup.
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?
It’s always nice to beat Man United, but I think this season I’d love to beat Liverpool. I never really disliked them in the past, but just recently they have gotten under my skin, mainly due to Luis Suarez, a great talent but a horrible person.
Who is your favorite player on the current squad?
My favorite player from the current team would be Christian Benteke, the Beast. His goals pretty much kept us up last season. He’s such a big, strong, powerful, and fast centre forward, when he’s on there’s no stopping him. When “Seven Nation Army” comes on the radio at work, to my coworkers’ amusement, I burst into song: “Oohhh, Christian Benteke!”
Who is your favorite player of all time?
It has to be Paul McGrath, GOD, number 5. He had two bad knees and didn’t train much but what a defender! His reading of the game was unbelievable. He also liked a pint or two, a hero on the Holte to this day. They still sing about him.
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
The Villa website or BBC, or just floating around the Villa pages on Facebook. There are always people on there keeping you up to date.
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
My best quality is that I’m passionate about my team, and even moving 4,000 miles away from Villa Park hasn’t changed that. I’ve always backed the team, even during the bad times under O’Dreary and McLeish, and I would never boo them even when we stunk the place out. My worst quality is when we lose, it kinda spoils my weekend and I can be hard to be around when I’m like that. I remember one game when we threw away a 4-1 lead away at Spurs to draw 4-4, going down the garden to kick the shed in anger.
Where do you usually watch games?
What are you usually drinking?
My choice of drink is either Magners Irish cider or a pint of the black stuff, Guinness.
If the Premier League table were a restaurant menu, which item of food would Aston Villa be?
Stodgy mash potatoes that weigh down your tummy and make it hard for you to get up.