Anthony Niblett“I’ll take erudite sports fans for $1000.”

“This claret-and-blue Birmingham native is a professor at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law.”

“Who is Anthony Niblett?”

Correct! Yes, you’ll find Villans everywhere, even in the groves of academe (where, rumor has it, Professor Niblett is quite popular with the students). A lifelong supporter of the Villa, Niblett found a big moment of fame on the small screen in late 2013, when he became a bona fide (note my use of the Latin) Jeopardy! champion! (Apologies, but to comply with trademark law we had to use that second exclamation point.) Read to the end for a tasty bit of trivia, and test your wits with a quiz question provided by our Villan of the Week himself.

The Starting Eleven

Where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you do for a living?

A gift from his students
A gift from his students

I was born in Birmingham, but now—after living in a few different countries—I’m in Toronto, Canada. I work as a law professor. It’s the best job in the world.

How and when did you choose Villa?

My family are Villa fans, my dad in particular. I started following Villa in the mid 1980s. My first season was when we were back in the old Second Division (1987–88). My first game on the Holte terraces was against Sheffield United. A dull 1-1 draw.

Anthony Niblett and Martin O'Neill in Columbus, Ohio (2007)
With Martin O’Neill in Columbus, Ohio (2007)

What was your happiest moment as a Villa supporter?

Lots to choose from. One of my earliest games was a 5-0 over Hull City on New Year’s Day 1988. The two League Cup final wins in the 1990s were great, especially the 1994 win against Man United. The 5-1 win against Birmingham in late 2007–08 was a cracker. But, probably the happiest moment was back in summer 2007 in Columbus, Ohio. Meeting Martin O’Neill and the squad at a reception in the Statehouse. The feeling around the club was fantastic at the time. Good times.

What was your most painful moment?

Hmm, probably more to choose from. Stern John’s 94th minute equalizer for Birmingham City back in 2004 was painful. We were the better team all day and we still managed to let it slip in the last minute. Not fun.

As the season is all but over, which team did you most enjoy beating this year—or which team do you most wish we had beaten?

The first game was pretty good. Beating Arsenal at the Emirates. Less said about the rest of the season, the better, I think.

Who is your favorite player on the current squad?

Martin Laursen, John Carey, Anthony Niblett, Olof Mellberg, and Thomas Sorensen in Columbus (2007)
Martin Laursen, John Carey, Niblett, Olof Mellberg, and Thomas Sorensen in Columbus

Benteke. He’s our only world-class player, our only genuine match winner. When he’s out, we look terrible. We need Vlaar at the back; without him, we are a mess. We need a few changes in personnel in 2014–15.

Who is your favorite player of all time?

Going to struggle to limit it to one. David Platt was great in his few seasons for Villa. His goals from midfield almost won us the league in 1989–90. Dean Saunders, Dalian Atkinson, Tony Daley, Paul McGrath, Gareth Southgate, Olof Mellberg, and Martin Laursen would be up there, too. I still miss Jimmy Milner.

What are your favorite sources for Villa news?

BBC football. The Guardian. I’m on a few Villa facebook groups. I tend to stay away from message boards; they leave me a little pessimistic about the future of mankind.

Rate yourself as a fan. What are your best and worst qualities?

Ian Taylor and Anthony Niblett in Chicago (2012)
With Ian Taylor in Chicago (2012)

I used to be a better fan. Villa websites used to be the first thing I read in the morning. I still watch all the games. And when we’re on the box, I go to the pub, usually wearing a retro Villa top, to watch with fellow Toronto Villans.

Where do you usually watch games?

The Toronto Villans watch at a pub called The Oxley in Yorkville. It’s a lovely pub with a pretty good breakfast. I just wish we could recruit a few more Toronto Villans to get out regularly.

Toronto Villans at the Oxley
Toronto Villans at the Oxley

What are you usually drinking?

Just a coffee at that time of the morning. For games that are on in the afternoon here, either a Junction Craft (a local beer) or a Guinness.

Extra Time

Rumor has it you did pretty well on a quiz show called Jeopardy! What is your favorite bit of Villa-related trivia? Got any stumpers for us?

‘Tis true. I love trivia, but I don’t really have a favorite bit of Villa trivia, I’m afraid. Here’s a couple though:

  • Villa Park has hosted the most FA Cup semifinals and, if New Wembley keeps hosting semis, Villa Park will remain top of that list until 2035.
  • Villa have scored the second most goals in the top division of English football with 6,550. Anyone know who’s first?

 

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