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I Have Sinned: Or How Villa Can Learn From Westlife


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OK, I’ve got something very, very embarrassing to admit, but I have written about it – so that excuses me – right?!

I never, ever thought I would be in a large room watching Westlife sing a cover version of the ‘Backstreet Boys’ “classicâ€, ‘Backstreet’s Backâ€. Well, that’s what I was doing on Saturday night.

So, whilst some of you were watching and complaining about the tedium that was the England match, I was at the NEC watching Westlife and their support act Dyyce (who’s entire act seemed to be based around their name sounding like the real word ‘dice’). At this point it’s probably best to explain to the Villans abroad that Westlife are an Irish ‘boyband’ who seem to be loved by middle aged women and teenage girls a like, and that I was there as I’d previously dragged my girlfriend to Villa, it was only fair if she dragged me to see them.

As the band launched into another song full of key changes and mock-emotional words sung with a pained expression, I took a look around the arena to see if there were any freaks in the crowd. You know the type – overweight middle aged women crying or screaming hideously in the blind belief that these boys will spot them and think “Bloody hell, I’m young and a millionaire – all I need now is that fat forty year old over there dressed as a leprechaun and my life is completeâ€.

What really amazed me was that there was a real wide range of ages – from children all the way to sixty & seventy year olds. And all of them had Westlife t-shirts on, sang songs, screaming for them to come on stage. And after a minute or two of laughing at them it suddenly dawned on me – it’s actually just the same as being at Villa (or any football match) isn’t it?

At the concert there are thousands of screaming fans, at the football match there are thousands of fans singing and cheering on their team – of course at the concert there wasn’t a sigh made every time a note was off key in the way the crowd jumps on players who have made a missed timed pass, mind.

There was of course the selling of merchandise everywhere, as there often is at football (though Villa’s programme is significantly cheaper and better value).

Women of all ages were pointing trying to spot their same member, as people all around me do whenever Villa have made a new signing and they try to spot him - “Where’s Shaun Maloney?!â€


“Where?! I can’t see himâ€

“That one there – the tiny one who makes Steve Davis look like a giantâ€

“Blimey, sorry – I thought one of The Borrowers had come to visit.â€

And of course, just as in football there is an annoying fool constantly blowing his whistle, I had a very annoying young child who had just discovered the joy of a whistle sat just behind me. Still, it drowned the music out a bit….

But one thing stood out to me. These people getting over enthusiastic about four twenty-something year olds fluttering their eyelashes and singing a few songs – they know that most of civilization think that Westlife are crap. But they don’t care – they just want to go and enjoy themselves – and I have to admit, they created an atmosphere that made it very easy for themselves to do so – and perhaps it’s something where Villa fans can learn from, as bizarre as it sounds.

Night games tend to have a decent atmosphere. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because people have been at work all day, and it could be seen as a bit exciting that you’ve got something to look forward to after work. I dunno. But wouldn’t it be great if the crowd came together next Monday, didn’t care that McCann is off the pace, or that Ashley Young hasn’t scored a hatrick within three minutes just because he cost £8million – and actually backed the team 100% from start to finish.

Yeah, I know – it’s a dream....

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