Like a lot of American fans, Mark Altherr became interested in the team during the Martin O’Neill era, when a fine run of form alerted him to the team’s many other fine qualities. And, like the rest of us, since he chose, his loyalty has been unwavering. Even last year’s relegation scare didn’t put him off—but, when you learn about the other teams he supports, you’ll see why this sports fan needs a LOT of patience.
The Starting Eleven
Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?
I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, I’ve been living in Denver, Colorado for the last seven years, teaching elementary school. Currently I teach fourth grade, but hope to get into what my degree is for, which is physical education.
How and when did you choose Villa?
I chose Villa during the 2006-07 season. I had followed the Premier League for a year or two and decided I wanted to start following a team. Villa has a great history, couldn’t just buy a championship (much like my hometown teams in Cincinnati) like others that will remain nameless at this time, and gave me no reason to believe they would be relegated anytime soon (almost got fooled on that one). All in all, Villa was a competitive team and has a had good fan base.h
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
My happiest moment came just recently, when I made my first trip to Villa Park over Thanksgiving. It was just a great experience to be able to take the tour and see a match from the Holte End. Since I took the tour the day before a home game, I was able to see the jerseys hanging in the lockers, and got some pictures with a few. My tour guide, Mick, was fantastic, and even gave me his number to call him after the game since he wanted to know about my experience. I will certainly not forget the feeling of walking into Villa Park and seeing the field in person for the first time. Just amazing!
I met some great people who allowed me to have a few pints with them at the Aston Hotel before the game, who I’ve staying in contact with and will continue to keep in touch with. Unfortunately it was the 0-0 draw against Sunderland, so I didn’t get a chance to hear the roar of the crowd after a goal. The only thing that would have made it better is a Villa win. Maybe next time.
What was your most painful moment?
It’s more than just a moment, but the relegation battle two years ago. We barely made it out alive in that one. Two points above the drop zone is too close for comfort. Thankfully, a couple other teams did worse than us, and Stoke put in a late goal or we would have been gone.
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat (or beat again) this year?
I’m going to have to go with the United game in March. They always bring a massive amount of fans to the pub I go to here in Denver, so to have our three voices outnumber the masses in victory would make my day! Of course, victories against Chelsea after, well, we all know what’s happened in recent matches, and a sweep of City would be welcomed as well.
Who is your favorite player on the current squad?
I’m divided, but Gabby seems to be the one I’ve always enjoyed watching play. He’s been with the club since I started following them, and even though he may not have always been the top guy on the pitch, he always seems to come ready to play each week. His hard work and competitiveness each match is what each player should strive for whenever they put on the shirt.
Who is your favorite player of all time?
I haven’t been following Villa as long as others, but I do want to choose one from the time I started following the club. I think I’m going to have to go with Petrov. Maybe it’s more of a sympathetic pick, but he played the game with class, had a wonderful reputation with the fans, and just seemed to always represent himself and the club well. I follow sports and this is definitely something that not every athlete possesses. A shame he left the game early due to his illness.
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
I mostly use AVFC, Sky Sports, the Premier League site, and a couple Facebook pages.
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
I’m definitely a dedicated fan and will support my teams through good and bad. Let’s remember I’m a Bengals and Reds fan as well, so it’s been a while since we’ve won anything! Still I wear the jersey, and much like being a Villa fan, there usually aren’t too many around me here in Denver. I think my worst quality is that I can get a little too opinionated. One day there will be a TV that will allow my voice to go through it so those on the other side can hear me. Until then, if necessary I will criticize when needed. Besides, they’ve been known to make a good play or even score when I’m pushed to that level. So maybe they can hear me?
Where do you usually watch games?
With our small Aston Villa Supporters Denver group, I watch most of the matches at Three Lions Pub. They will record the games if we can’t make it for the live airing (typically a weekday match). Sometimes, for the early matches at 5:45 a.m., I have stayed home to watch, but that doesn’t happen often if at least one other will get out of bed to meet me there. Yes, the pub is open! John Zeise, Greg Boynton, and I are consistently there, along with any others that make the trek from outside the Denver area or are passing through.
What are you usually drinking?
It can depend on the game time, since they can’t serve alcohol until 7 a.m. If we’re the early game, or if it’s been a long night before, 8 a.m. can come early, so it’s just coffee and breakfast. Typically I start with a coffee, then move on to a beer that sounds good at the time. Depends on my mood, but a Fuller’s ESB seems to creep up quite often. But hey, it’s Saturday morning happy hour so it’s all good!
What’s the best reaction you’ve ever gotten when someone has learned you support Villa?
Most of the time, it’s “How did that happen?” To which I have responded sarcastically many times before telling them the real reason. Especially if they are fans of certain clubs who just don’t see why I wouldn’t choose their team. I’m sure you can guess those names.