Life at the Bottom: Being an Aston Villa Fan
Article by Matt Taylor
As we football fans collectively sail into the windy post-‐transfer wilderness of February, new years resolutions well and truly assigned to the ditch, its time, of course, to head back to the pub.
Lads lads lads, kick a goal, front foot, back foot, jagerbomb, et cetera.
But in pubs around the West midlands, as the second half of the season gets into its fullest flow, there’s an elephant in the room.
"So, who do you support?”
It's an entirely innocent question, there's no malice in it, you might say. But as an Aston Villa fan, it's one that comes loaded with embarrassment and awkwardness.
Villans of 2016 either try to change the subject with lightning haste, or indulge in increasingly lengthy and violent rants concerning everything from the cluelessness of our owners and operatives, to the cluelessness of our goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and indeed, attackers, if they can really be described as such.
Rants that render their recipients sheepish and sorry, but ultimately no less pitying.
Anti-‐bants I believe they call it…
“Selling Benteke and Delph to buy Gestede and Veretout?!!! Just imagine if Radiohead, on the eve of a world tour, got rid of Thom and Johnny, and brought in Birmingham’s Karaoke Champion 2013 and a guitarist that Phil Selway had seen playing in a French restaurant on holiday! “
Villa’s plight this season has become a joke, not just in the West Midlands but country-‐wide, perhaps Europe-‐wide. The Birmingham mail yesterday published an article on an entire team of players Villa tried to sign in the transfer window but who would not come within 100 miles of Birmingham airport, in their lifetime, with or without a bargepole.
Being a lifelong fan of the team currently rock bottom of the premier league with literally zero prospects of that changing has an impact on all aspects of your being.
We dedicated football fans draw parallels from our team into our lives and behaviour. As such, as we enter this second month of 2016, I simply value myself less.
I drive slower.
My Tinder standards have plummeted through the floor.
I let people into the queue.
I’ve stopped buying avocados. I just don’t deserve them.
The current state of Villa on the pitch was put into perspective on the 12th of January, when we actually scored (yes, scored), a goal (goal).
Overwhelmed with the perceived significance of this alien event, I began texting friends jubilant messages – genuinely positive stuff… but there was a crushing realisation, on viewing the replay.
It turns out that the only way Villa can win a game of Premier League football is for the opposing side’s goalkeeper, in a valiant act of unrivalled kindness and sheer pity, to willingly place the ball with both hands into his own goal.
IS THIS THE SINGLE MOST PATRONISING ACT EVER COMMITTED IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE WAYNE HENNESSY?!
It certainly feels like it.
More patronising than Mark Lawrenson’s showreel.
More excruciating than Mark Lawrenson’s shirts.
More embarrassing, than Mark Lawrenson.
It’s difficult to understand what it means. A PL rival actually letting you win. Physically gifting you 3 points out of pity.
Maybe we’ll benefit from life in the Championship. That’s what some people say. But that’s a little like watching a group of 17 people simultaneously win the Grand National, and thinking, ‘actually I really like the way the damp in my house is getting worse, I might see if I can lose my job so that I can’t afford to fix it.’
Someone asked me yesterday if I was a glass half full or half empty kinda guy. I told them that someone had bought my glass, smashed it, sold the shards to some other glass companies, and handed me back a leaking plastic cup, with ‘Made in France’ printed on its underside.
We got a new chairman this month. He thinks we need ‘a shake up’.
Unfortunately, at this rate, I think we might need a Sheikh up.
That’s not true and is politically pretty wonky, but I’m going to keep it in. I’m off to downgrade my phone tariff.