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Hail to the Chief


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by drat01

Inspired by 2 excellent news articles, a story from a proud grand dad.

Just over 12 months ago now I got the phone call we in the family had all wanted. It was from my son and he said “Dad, Welcome Joseph Harry to the family”. I had become a grand-dad, people who have met me will now be going “No way you are far too young!”, but no we had a new addition not only to our family but also to the Villa family.

I was prepared for this, Werthers originals in my pocket, a new cardigan and slippers for me and for the boy obviously a brand new Claret and Blue scarf. Despite living some way from Villa Park there was never any question, this lad was to grow up as a Villa fan.

But!, like any parent or grand-parent you want the best for your family and the club that was hopefully going to be part of Joe’s life from now on was not a pretty one. I’d seen the glory days and nights of Rotterdam and Highbury etc, even Joe’s dad had seen them winning trophies at Wembley, but the way the club was at this time it looked as though Joe would have to wait a very long time before he saw his grand-dad drunk celebrating another Villa trophy win. Add to this, things we saw and heard about the way the club was run, something that had been building over a period of years from fans protests, manager comments, players wanting away because of lack of ambition, players being chastised in the press for things that on the surface were not true. The club had no ambition, kits and sponsors were not in the premier league, Joe would never be able to go to the local shop as he grew older and buy the new Villa shirt.

Frankly Villa had become something that was heading in only one direction and that wasn’t upwards.

Half way through this first year though, things were about to change at Villa Park.

Enter Randy Lerner and his team. Randy who? There was scepticism from certain quarters that this Yank was in it not for the right reasons. It was another Man Utd takeover, “what does he know about running a football club?”.

With Randy though came a team of people including the main focus, Martin O’Neill. I’ll leave it to the others to, rightly, sing the praises of that man because as “fans” of VillaTalk will know if they haven’t become too bored with my waffle, I like to look at the bigger picture.

What Randy started virtually straight away was to introduce change into areas of the club that had seldom seen any for far too many years. The stream of positive initiatives for fans, from laying on of coaches to Chelsea for 6,000 to the establishment of fans forums. VillaTalk and other web forums had a senior member of his team posting on here, absolutely amazing. Virtually straight away player’s quotes showed that they were happier with how things looked at the club, new training facilities being built, player’s injuries being dealt with by the top people, contracts being negotiated behind the scenes rather than through the press. Ron Saunders coming back to Villa Park. Work commencing on what had become a eye-sore, the renovation of the Holte Hotel, and many many more.

Randy is by all accounts a quiet man, the lack of quotes in the media backing this up. What he does know obviously though is what is important to getting a successful football club. For the first time in many a long year, we have square pegs in square holes, star pegs in star holes and striped pegs in striped holes (see what I did there?). All of this will enable Martin and his team to provide hopefully the main success on the pitch.

It’s not an overnight process and it’s a bit like little Joe as he grows up. Now 1 year old he can walk, albeit at time’s he has a little stumble. He understands instinctively who are the people who will provide for him and he looks and listens to them. There will be a few tears no doubt but as we progress these become less and less to be replaced by genuine smiles.

Mr. Lerner on behalf of 3 generations of Villa fans we salute and thank you.

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Tears in my eyes. Very poignant and just shows what this club means to us all. Likewise, my daughters are 3rd Generation Villa fans, who were toddlers in 82 and have only seen 2 glimses of success. Hail to the Chief and Here's to a Claret and Blue future

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Nice article.

I must confess, in the first instance I was a little sceptical about Randy Lerner, based on nothing other than the fact that he was a Yank and I had saw what had happened at Man U. Mind you, I was like that with every bid... I suppose it is like whenever my 19 year old cousin has a new boyfriend ; I am always sceptical at first, not because of him, but because I love her so much!

However within days it was obvious that his offer was the right one to take, and I have been cheerfully having a portion of humble pie in my daily diet every day since :lol:

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