I once had a drink with today’s Villan of the Week, but, more importantly, he comes vouched for by his mate, Detroit-by-way-of-Nuneaton Villan Mike Pearson—still one of the all-time most popular VOTWs so far. (No pressure, Simon!) As you read about Simon’s long history as a true claret-and-blue supporter of the Villa, you’ll see that most of this family man’s pics feature his very cute kids. Not only does he have four of them, he’s bringing them up absolutely right!
The Starting Eleven
Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?
I was born in Wolverhampton and grew up in Bilston. I now live in Rochester Hills, which is north of Detroit, with my wife Julie and our four beautiful children: Harrison, Alfie, Finley, and Tallulah. I work for GM as a car designer.
How and when did you choose Villa?
I’m not sure exactly when it started. My cousin Steve was a Villa fan, my school friends supported Wolves, and my dad had a soft spot for the Baggies. I hated gold and black, plus they were crap, the Baggies’ stripes looked terrible . . . and they were crap. So it had to be the Villans! I loved the banter with school mates about who we supported and loved the fact that the Villans grew to be the best local team, so I could give as good as I got amongst the kids who weren’t armchair supporters of the bigger clubs and thought Liverpool and Manchester were near Scotland. The first game I went to was with my dad (I converted both him and my mom into Villa fans!); we played Derby and lost but I was hooked. I loved the ground, loved the atmosphere. I went to loads of games and soon I bought a season ticket in the Lower Trinity, where I sat with my mate Andy, right by the dugouts, for about 15 years. When my eldest came along and it looked like we would be moving to the States, I had to give up the ticket, but my mom took it over for a couple of seasons, so we had a Hodister presence at Villa Park a while longer!!
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
Any time we win! It’s been rare recently . . . .
I loved being at the Cup finals when we beat Leeds and Man United—those were awesome times. But the best moment has to be my boys (and hopefully my daughter) wanting to be Villa fans. I’ve not forced it on them, I’ve let them make the decision, but they know Daddy supports the Villa and they’ve embraced it. My eldest Harrison just had his ninth birthday, he wanted to celebrate it at our local pub the Hamlin, having breakfast and watching the Villa game there! Good lad!! We’ve been to Villa Park to get kits for them, and I showed them where i used to walk to the games, the stand I sat in, and we’ve walked around Villa Park. Unfortunately, with school time and where we live, they haven’t been to a game. But, we will go and when we do, that’s going to be my new happiest and proudest moment, as a dad and as a Villa fan.
What was your most painful moment?
There’s a couple. Obviously on the few . . . rare occasions when Blues have beaten us. Or when Norwich has beaten us—my lovely wife’s from there, and I never hear the end of it then. (And, no, the kids aren’t going to be Norwich fans, they look terrible in green and yellow, just ask any Cov fan!!)
But the worst has got to be the 2000 FA Cup final at Wembley. I went to every game on that journey to the final. It was amazing to see the team play some great games and dig in when necessary to get the results. It felt like we’d been so close in the seasons before. This was to be our year at last. I was really invested in it, too, watching the games at Villa Park, Goodison, and then the semifinal at Wembley. I, like thousands of other Villans, had shared the team’s fight on the road to the final, and we felt like it was our destiny, our year, with the way the draws had fallen for us. So the build-up to the last game at Wembley was great, everything boded well for an exciting final—except nobody told the team. I felt so let down, frustrated, and angry. A moment in history where the world’s most iconic ground was having its last goodbye . . . and the team didn’t show up. Was it nerves? Or bad preperation? I don’t know, but the party atmosphere that we had brought just fizzled. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be remembered as one of the worst performances by a team at a final, and unfortunately the Villa will be remembered for that, which hurts. But I still forgave them, and I still love the team.
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?
All of them, especially any of the top three. I love it when we beat Man United, just to stick it to the plastics and show what we can actually do and show our potential. It’s great having mates who support “big” clubs and being able to show we can easily compete with them. The Arsenal game where all the Villans got together at the Globe was brilliant, not just for the atmosphere but because I got to give my mates stick, too! Because we beat the probable champions, and not many teams will be able to say that this season.
Brad Guzan. He hasn’t suffered a second-season dip in form like a few of the others, and he’s kept us in so many games, I’d hate to think where we’d be now if we hadn’t re-signed him. He’s brilliant, professional, and he’s alright for an American player!
Who is your favorite player of all time?
That’s a hard one. I’ve been lucky enough to see the likes of McGrath, Platt, Cowans, Spink, Yorke, Bosnich, Taylor, and the ledgendary Shawn Teale play. I loved watching Tony Daley though, and always got excited when he went on one of his runs. You literally never knew how it was going to end up. Sums up the Villa really!
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
Mike Pearson and the Detroit Villa fan club we set up—he’s always on Facebook spreading the news. Thanks Mike! I’ll always skim through the blogs to see whats happening, Sport Witness, Vital Aston Villa, the Aston Villa websites and Facebook pages, the old 606 was great for news and gossip.
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
Being fickle and expecting too much! Villa is like a sleeping giant that just keeps on slumbering, but I still keep coming back for more. (It’s like being a Detroit Lions fan!) I still get excited by a game even if I may have no hope of getting anything from it, because it’s in my blood and I bloody love it. I don’t watch as much or get as heavily involved as I used to; because of my growing young family, my time just gets swallowed up. But I still grab those fleeting moments and make the most of them. It can be a torrid affair with the Villa. But well worth it.
Where do you usually watch games?
I watch them at the Hamlin Pub in Rochester when I can, otherwise I stream them or record them if the boys have got soccer training or games—which is happening more and more these days.
What are you usually drinking?
Blue Moon or Stella or a good cuppa tea if I’m at home!
If you could overrule any refereeing decision in any game Villa ever played, which one would it be?
It has to be the Peter Enckelman goal. It caused so much grief and embarrassment for the club and I don’t think Enckelman really recovered from that. It was an awful decision, but I’ve played in a couple of games here where exactly the same thing has happened, and the referee has allowed the goal. I guess people don’t fully know the rules on this one.