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blandy
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This is nothing more than what the title says - a thank you.

It's not a look ahead, a look back, a comment on players we've signed, or sold, the manager, the chairman or the price of pies.

I guess it's one of those "stop and smell the roses" things.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in what was and what might be, we don't stop to just get a feeling for where we are right now.

So I'll say it again. I like going to watch the Villa. It's good.

There are many people who have said and written many things about improvements in the club, respect for the tradition, hope for the future, the mosaic, the training ground, the relationship between fans and club and all that. And that's only right and proper.

There are others who complained bitterly about previous times, me one of them. So given that I've said when I'm not pleased, it's only right to say when I am.

I guess as you get older, the importance of individual results fades, and the experience you take from the games widens. You appreciate the whole day, whether you win or lose. Quite often in the past it's only been because of the "peripherals" - the pub, the banter, the day out, that I've carried on.

But you know what? Right here, right now, the experience of going to games is just about the best it's been, certainly since the wide eyed astonishment of youth - where everything was magical, whatever happened.

There are plenty of things about football that I could rail against - from this 39th game lunacy, to re-arranged kick off times, to the tangible greed enveloping much of it, the Sky 4, the petty idiocy of "sit down" jobsworths and a thousand other things, but despite all that, or maybe because of it, it's worth really appreciating what we have.

It isn't the edgy experience of the 70s and 80s, it isn't the mass of humanity on a terrace and the eardrum bruising noise of the same period, though just occasionally a (loud) echo is heard, still.

What it is, is kinder, more comfortable, more commercial and more accessible (with limitations) through our electronic media age. Of course it costs more and players are millionaires and set up for life. TV is ever present. It's an industry, not a sport. The provincial patriarch has been replaced by the super-wealthy owner.

However well Villa do this season, looking out yesterday at the ground, I saw a stadium that may have lost the Victorian splendour of old, but there are serious signs of class about the place. The balustrades with their claret and clue stripes, uniform around the ground, no tacky adverts, a noticeable, but discrete(ish), electronic advertising board around the pitch, expounding the team "sponsor" ( a good cause), Acorns charity, a team that performs as a team, a team that cares.

The seats pretty much full. Somebody, or lots of somebodies, are doing something right. And I'm grateful.

Reader, you may say "well of course you like going - you're a fan, you've been going for ages, why wouldn't you?" But the truth is for a fair part of the time I've been going, it's been a case of habit, not necessarily pleasure. It's been a routine. Of course meeting your friends for a pre-match chat and drink will always be enjoyable, but sometimes the actual matches and experience has been a bit depressing.

Us fans being a combination of hopelessly idealistic, and brutally pragmatic can't be easy to please, but right now I'm pleased. Maybe writing this after the first game of the season following a good home win is not the right time, but then again, maybe it's exactly the right time.

When I think of Villa now, I see a uniformity about what the club is. I see a "pure" kit of claret and blue, I see a side with players who ( I hope) appreciate what they have and what their responsibilities are. I see Acorns on the shirts, I see the ground looking more like a claret and blue oasis than it has ever been, really. I see the mosaics, I see a place that is both grounded and yet still has that magical attraction. I see something I want to go back to.

Thank you Villa. Thank you Randy Lerner, Thank you to Martin O'Neill and to all the people who work for or help the club.

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Top article - one of the best - a whip back - to the gung ho games and fans of the 70's - the hooligans of the 80's - and now as you say football as a product. As you may know, Im a pretty cynical villa fan - I f I can spot a weakness, so can the opposition. - I really conceding 2 goals yesterday was a travesty - Man city didn't deserves 2 goals.

Anyway- Iam optmistic right, when Hansen and Lee Dixon - gave their ill informed verdict that the top 4 was already decided - I thought - you are wrong, so wrong - theres a revolution down at VP - maybe not the big names players we (i) would have hoped - but the realisation that building the ultimate team (ie players that blend) - can compete with an expensive collection of individuals .

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Superb article.

Its all too easy to get lost in the day to day minutae and get bogged down in "Barry this..." or "new signings that.." But its sometimes great just to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

This club is in a great place at the moment. Its the envy of most and the pride of a very lucky few.

So I'll echo Blandy's comments. Thank you Randy, General, MoN et al... you really do have something to be proud of here.

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Blandy,

Excellent Post

I first started watching the boys in 1970 and the age of 8. One of my first memories is the League Cup Semi-Final against Man U and feeling the 'buzz'. The days in the third division cemented my relationship and by the time we got to the days of Gray, Deehan & Little I was hooked and couldn't miss a game home or away or a friendly anywhere. In those days, the excitement I experienced in the week and then the anticipation of kick off on match days was just unbelievable and stayed with me until we broke up the European Cup winning side in the early 80's. Up to that time, I barely slept on a Friday night because I couldn't wait for the 'feeling' the next day...

Some of those games and performances will stay with me until I die. There are just so many memories I could fill a book but perhaps that's for another day! I still remember the Liverpool game when we thrashed them 5-1 and watching Keegan & Co just stand and stare in disbelief as they were played off the park. The last game at Arsenal when we won the league but played crap, the European games, the friendly against Santos when the queue for the Holte End wrapped around the whole of Villa Park and 57,000 were in there and probably 20,000 outside just to see Pele.The Bournemouth game in Div 3 with 48,000 there. The day Alex Cropley broke his leg, Charlie Aitken getting his shield of Billy Walkers wife for the most games played, Andy Gray - one of the best centre forwards I have ever seen, Dennis Mortimer - a superb leader and captain, 'Sid' Cowans (no need to say anymore about Sid!) and who can forget the likes of Bruce (thunderbolt) Rioch, Willie Willie Anderson, 'Chico' Hamilton, Ray Graydon, and Andy, Andy Lochhead, Andy Lochead in the Air! All of them great individuals but also fantastic players in great teams. Wow, I could go on and on....

Blandy, your post struck a real chord with me because I just realised that after 20 odd years the 'feeling' has come back. I have had a season ticket now for over 30 years and I must admit, up to when Randy & MON came on board, I was very close to packing it all in. You see, I had lost the 'feeling', 'the buzz', the excitement of the Villa and Match Days et al and was thinking I had better things to do with my time on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. Now, it's back with a bang!

I just can't wait until the next game and I am definitely born again! Everything RL, MON, the players and staff at VP have done and are doing is geared to WINNING. Not only winning but winning in the right way. I have never felt so proud and yet humble to be a Villa Fan and the excitement is immense.

I think its right to give thanks and praise to everyone connected to Aston Villa F.C. and I am absolutely convinced that the glory days we experienced in the late 70's and early 80's are not that far away from happening again.

After all said and done, there is only one Aston Villa !

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Blandy - your article sums up why I am so jealous sitting here a million miles away in Oz - watching the Villa on TV has no meaning compared to the excellent article you have written. This is one of those "regret" moments - the article sums up the only regret that I have by emigrating to Australia.

Keep up the good work, one and all at The Mighty Villa. You too, Blandy.

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This is nothing more than what the title says - a thank you.

Thank you Villa. Thank you Randy Lerner, Thank you to Martin O'Neill and to all the people who work for or help the club.

Thanks for the post, it's a perfect mirror to my own feelings except that I couldn't have put it so eloquently.

Oh, and thanks for the fags ;-)

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Well said Blandy and thanks to Marktam as well for that trip down memory lane.

I think we all have a lot to be happy about right now and with Randy & Martin at the helm there is a real prospect that we are once again on the brink of something really big as we were 30 years ago. Its great that the fans who were not there to see the rise of the sleeping giant back then might just have the opportunity to see our lion roar again this time and to enjoy the glory days that we thrilled at in days of yore.

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