I asked Justine Allpress to be Villan of the Week after reading some of her comments about Villa’s tactics on Facebook. And, now that I know her story, I understand why she has such insight—she’s an athlete herself. Although her sport was basketball, not soccer, an ability to compete at the university level surely brings with it an understanding of what it takes to make a successful team. And, although this Midlands-raised expat hasn’t seen her favorite team have much success on the field in the last several years, she’s clearly Villa ’til she dies.
The Starting Eleven
Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?
I was born in Buckinghamshire but moved to the Midlands when I was 2. We moved to Barton under Needwood in Staffordshire, where I lived until I moved to the U.S. at the age of 18. I came over to the States to play college basketball at East Carolina University. After university, I settled in Durham, North Carolina, where I now work for a research institute in Research Triangle Park.
How and when did you choose Villa?
My mum took my brother and I to the Villa training ground and I was a fan from then on. I remember getting autographs from Gary Shaw and Peter Withe—I was completely starstruck.
What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?
My happiest moment has nothing to do with winning any trophies. I went to Villa Park with my brother to watch the game against Manchester United when I was back in England a couple of years ago. It was great to spend time with my brother and watch the VIlla at the stadium for the first time since I was a kid. It was a great night.
What was your most painful moment?
I would have to say the last couple of seasons while we have been fighting for survival. [That’s a lot of moments! —Ed.] Watching Villa play at the weekends is such a large part of my life and keeps me so connected to home. The thought of not being able to see them (legally) every week has been very stressful.
Which team would you most like to see Villa beat this year?
Chelsea. I can’t stand them.
Who is your favorite player on the current squad?
Marc Albrighton. Marc has been my favorite player for the last few years. I know a lot of supporters don’t rate him but I love his passion and effort. We don’t have any other player like Marc, and whenever he plays it becomes extremely evident that we lack quality crossers of the ball. Weimann has a good work rate but he lacks the skills to create for others (except for the assist to Bacuna against Norwich). I find it so frustrating that we lack creativity, yet we don’t play Marc regularly and insist on playing the same way game after game.
Who is your favorite player of all time?
Gary Shaw. I idolized him as a child.
What are your favorite sources for Villa news?
Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?
I rate myself pretty highly as a fan. I flew from North Carolina to Chicago to see the team play, I watch every game I can, and am thoroughly depressed and frustrated if we lose. I think my best quality is my loyalty. As for worst qualities . . . there are none when it comes to being a passionate supporter, you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.
Where do you usually watch games?
At home, on the sofa.
What are you usually drinking?
P.G. Tips from my Villa mug!
In your opinion, which Villa player has been misused most—played out of position, not played enough, or even played too much—this season?
I’m not sure I can pick just one. Obviously, I would love to see Albrighton play much more and would have him take some time away from Weimann, who frustrates me with his lack of creativity and finesse.
Also, for much of the year Benteke has appeared to be disinterested. I realize it is very hard to take him out of the game due to what he is capable of, but I have been disappointed with his effort this season. I don’t really see him having a replacement though in the squad, though—certainly not Grant Holt.