Thoughts and issues regarding the past and present of a great football club by "The Chronicler".

Friday, 26 December 2008

The Villa in Rhyme

When the leathered sphere in Aston landed, the Villa triers together banded and though they showed not the best, yon Park became a heath of contest. Though the Villans efforts were great - a story so sad to relate - they at first came not to the fore; but all changed when a Scot knocked on their door. Brother, prithee, tell me what magnet like some super dragnet, could have the force to pull such a worthy from the Celtic land?

The "dapper little man" who wanted a game, who showed them all how to dribble, and the ball to tame - his name, Ramsay, spread like a flame; outside Aston's borders, he even had fame. To the Barr, he led the Villa hence, to build a centre par excellence; Aston's Lower Grounds left awhile for a new home for his Pets, on trial.

Fully charged, the magnet worked its pow'r - the kindly draper, McGregor, from Calthorpe, was pulled this way, the League's father, they say. And many brith'r Scots, too, - a wonderful crew; and many another friend, a Band of Brothers did blend. That Ramsay Celt really sowed the seed; and from the acorn came the grand oak to feed many years of splendorous teams soon grew, whose feats many tried to copy, its true.

And now, with Merlin's spirit here once more, renewing the passion to push ajar that door (that we thought had hung on calcified hinges) and so defying the critics' whinges! And let there be inscribed upon the bark of this great oak, no longer in the dark, that here lies a big, big club ... Aston Villa; prepared, and always at the hub.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

How Keane is Barry?

I am trying to make sense of the Barry-Liverpool saga. Last week, it seemed that Barry et al believed that Pool were within an ace of stumping up £18m or its equivalent. Perhaps Finnan was part of that deal, and that he seems to have declared he did not want to leave Pool has perhaps made the difference and caused Pool to retract from the £18m valuation. Pool's owners are asking (it seems) whether they should invest so much in a player who would be 31 in four years, at the end of his proposed contract. And they have decided "no". Well, they have just paid £20m for a 28-year-old (vs Barry at 27), who has a different but precisely equivalent affect on his side - he's positive, he's (sort of) quick, and when he scores he pulls the trigger - click! However, I would say that maybe Keane will only be successful for another year or two, whereas Barry could go on for a long time. So, are Pool fooling themselves - and everyone else?! And, what is worse, have they mucked up Barry's career? I'd suggest that for Barry to pick himself up now and perform well for Villa will take a lot of character. I would welcome his stay, but can he now do the business? And will he retain the captaincy?

Villa for England!

Villa's latest signings set up an extraordinary situation where Mr. Capello need not go anywhere else but to Villa Park to find his team! A slight exaggeration perhaps, but with the two Youngs, Shorey, Davies, Agbonlahor and (still) Barry already having had at least England squad experience, and a wealth of other players waiting in the wings after development through the Vila's youth system, then, indeed, Villa possess a rare posse of England talent that has its equivalent at few (if any) other Premiership clubs. And the signs are that Villa could be adding more English names to their collection as Martin O'Neill looks around to see what he can add to the midfield and striking departments. Villa are on the UP!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Villa On The Up!

Whilst the world will always give rise to opinions and interpretations that vary with impressive spontaneity, I am lost as to what has activated a negative view of MON's craftsmanship to date. Just what and who else were we supposed to get at Villa Park? And just what has gone wrong in the past two years? If it is mainly the absence of a proper right-back (and there it was a lot down to hard luck in Delaney's career being cut short), then still to be able to fill it sufficiently well to elevate the club to a well-earned 6th place has proved that a good craftsman can even get the best out of a piece of ordinary rock rather than seeking the glamour of a diamond. MON himself as oft-spoken about the shortcoming at RB, and this week he has gone and done something about it that is significant. We now have virtual solidity in goal and right through the backs and centre-backs, though one or two more in numbers will not go amiss. The strength in that department should now provide the base for the launch of counter-attacks that will be exploited by the pace of Gabby and the other Young, and if the attack could score as many as they did last season, how many should they score this year? OK I speak as though I'm high on ecstasy, and the reality is that it may well take 2 or 3 months before we start seeing the best of our team. But I do expect to see it, and in fact with the addition of more talent before this month is out. There's one more thing. Having had the fortune to be able to read in great detail about the building of previous great Villa teams, I am immediately struck by certain similarities of today with the Villa team of the early 1920s that mostly came together in a short period of time. The strength and guile of the old full-backs Smart and Mort; the indefatigable resilience and creativity of skipper Barson and his colleague Frank Moss, and the remarkable speed and thrust of York and Dorrell all strike home with me as having their equivalents in the team now coming together at Villa Park. In other positions there are similarities between then and now. We are short, however, of one major player. An equivalent to Billy Walker. Keep hoping and praying!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Mirror's Take on Martin O'Neill

"... He knows he's lost Barry and probably lost him this summer. But he's throwing down the gauntlet to clubs who think that next time they'll lure away Ashley Young or Gabriel Agbonlahor. Take me on and I'll fight you all the way, screw up your summer and hopefully grind you into submission. Many Villa fans say he should accept the situation, take the money and get a few new faces in. "But they overlook the point he's making about the size of their club. He's saying he's not at Leicester now. He doesn't need to sell to buy, and doesn't feel it's his duty to allow a player to move to a big club because they are already at one." See the rest of the article.

Friday, 4 July 2008

The Villa Chronicles Project - A New History

This is a project I started in early 2006 - a project to determine the facts of the club's history from 1874-1925, the period which is probably still Villa's greatest. And during that time the Villa became the pacemakers in world football. I am at last coming to the close of the writing of this long and detailed account of what happened from the very early days. For more details (including availability), click here.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Ivor Powell, MBE

A former Villa player from 60 years ago awarded an MBE at Christmas, 2007. A name from the past that most of us never saw play!!! ...More.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

When 'GB' Meant 'Great Britain'

Way back in the early '60s, Nat King Cole rolled out his pop song "Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer". They were days of few worries for the teenager and everything looked rosy. But even before "...those days of soda and pretzels and beer...", there were even balmier days. I come from the age before TV - and that probably says it all. All I can remember as a boy is sunny days, green fields and gettin' muddy. And being carried over the heads of the 'big' fans at Villa Park. My attitude is still a bit simplistic as you can probably see, so forgive me if I've not risen up to this world of sophistication that apparently is the real world. So some say. So when I was today told, "Welcome to the real World of today's Premiership football, John ..." then I finally realised that a few years had rolled on since my 'Mac' and Hitchens days. There was a time when you could shake someone's hand and know that you could depend on him. Now, you're looking round corners to see whether the same feller is invading your bank account! So GB's decided to jump ship like his old colleagues, Southgate, Ehiogu and Boeteng. Well, they had a semblance of an excuse they said (- but why Boro?). No matter, I still can't get my head around this Barry thing; what kind of situation is it when two players (Gerrard and Barry) can pressure a club in this way? And its fans for that matter. However I try to define it, there is a great need for the return of loyalty. Yes, GB has put in 10 years worth of effort, but it is a two-sided story and I'd say he's got MON to thank for a lot of what's happened to GB in the last two years. In view of that, for GB to reject MON's ability to carry it all forward smacks of a lot of selfishness (and a degree of naivity if he's fallen under Gerrard's spell) - he could have given VP another year to see what was to transpire. Well, the world of Prem football may just be what I've just been told it is, but unless its players get back to the realm of decency, the Prem (no matter how wonderful it glitters just now) has only got one future. And that's down. I give the Prem ten years max. at this level of contagion. Older fans will remember when the footballer was almost like an extension of him (the fan). In very old days you could meet him on the bus going to the match.The attitude was "we are one". Now? We are him and the others and us. Unity has virtually disappeared. Have you seen a bomb? It's all in one piece before it's used, and then what happens? It destructs into smithereens ... and so it is with anything else. When it destructs it is too late. I'd insure your season tickets if I were you.