The Dennis Mortimer Interview
Vital Villa members put a number of questions to legendary Villa player Dennis Mortimer and as you could expect from our most celebrated of captains, he has done us proud.
Jonathan Fear: Not a question, just a personal thanks to you for turning up at the first VFC meeting despite being 'advised' not to speak. I think it spoke volumes to the fans.
So here are the questions from the motley crew at Vital Villa!
Aronno7: Just how different is AVFC in the modern era than in your day? Are there things that happen now that could have made things better then and were there things then that could make things better now?
DM: I should be saying the training ground, but as we all know it as taken the Villa an awfully long time to bring their training facilities into the modern arena. Advances have been made concerning the information on recovery after a match, particularly in players eating habits. We used to eat what was put in front of us, and swill it down with pints of beer and lager!!! Ron Saunders could make it better now!
BFR JNR!! How overall do you view the Doug Ellis years from 1982 to now? Why are you not treated as the god like figure you should be at Villa Park?
DM. My reaction to Doug Ellis returning to the Villa in 1982 was one of disappointment.... for my own future at the club, and for you the fans. I knew no good would come of his return, and to some extent I've been proved right. So personally his years have been disastrous. Only Doug Ellis can answer the second part of your question.
Gazton Villa: You and your team's achievements will forever be regarded as possibly the greatest by a Villa side. 25 years on, how do you view the achievement, especially in light of today's watered down European competitions and the money driven 'Premier League'.
DM. Its a shame that those fans who came to Villa after those two wonderful years have not had an opportunity to experience that feeling of knowing their team were champions of England and then of Europe.That achievement was down to a great manager and a fantastic bunch of players who knew their worth and contributed both individually and collectively over the length of the football season. It makes us feel honoured to have forged a place in Villa's magnificent history.
Gazton Villa: Also, do you still get recognised by Villa fans? If so, does that please you or are you at a stage now where you would prefer to be just a normal fan?
DM. I still get recognised in faraway places such as Guernsey! I usually have a game of twenty questions, but we usually get their. I am never offended by being recognised, so next time you see me do say hello.
Platty: Why do you think you didn't get the opportunity (that you so richly deserved) to play for England?
DM. Other great midfield players who where around when I played: Tony Currie, Alan Hudson, Trevor Brooking, Steve Coppel, Terry McDermott to name but a few.
Platty Would we have won the World Cup in 1982 if you and Tony Morley had been in the England side?
DM. I would like to think that we could of contributed to a successful England team.
Platty If the Sultan of Brunei bought the club tomorrow and appointed you Director of Football who do you think would be the best candidate to be manager?
DM. I would appoint Gordon Cowans and bring back Graham Taylor to assist him.
Beefy: What was the single biggest change you noticed in the way the club was run once Ellis came back?
DM. The atmosphere throughout the club changed because of his type of man management. The problem was that he settled himself into a big office at Villa Park and preceded to watch over everybody. The biggest problem though was his EGO, it followed him around everywhere!!
aussie dave: When the ball came across to Withy did you think yes 1-0 or did you think oh s**te he is going to miss it ?
DM. Peter did that every week in training, therefore I knew he wouldn't miss!!!
aussie dave My reaction was.... ball coming across Withe wide open -YESSSSSS Withe seems to miss kick - NOOOOOOOO The ball in the back of the net- YESSSSSSSSSS
DM. I didn't think Pete had miss-hit the ball on the night, if was only watching the reply on the video then it becomes clear that all the practice on the training field, had made it perfect!
foc_dublinvilla: Why can't you and Paul McGrath have a day out at the Villa too boost the fans?!
DM: Once again you would have to ask Doug Ellis that question. Anyway Paul McGrath would get invited into the Director's box, I would have to go and sit with my good mate Jonathan FEAR.
andrew144: Do you think our current manager is doing a good job or do you think we have the right to expect more from him?
DM: He his not doing a good job, and yes I think you have the right to expect more from him.
danvilla2: Does our club's apparent lack of ambition (ie the board and chairman) make you as upset and angry as the fans?
DM: No one can be more upset on Villa's plight than you the fans. You deserve more and the only way forward is to get Ellis out.
Jim1: Hi Dennis, do you think Aston Villa will ever achieve again what you guys did in 1982?
DM: Simple answer NO!!
Erod: Hi Dennis, thanks for the memories. After we lost at home to Ipswich I got home feeling a bit down and switched on the tele and there was Ron Saunders being interviewed by Gary Newbon (I think, from memory). The interviewer said 'Ipswich are the favourites now'. Ron looked him in the eye and said: 'Do you want to bet against us?' The interviewer shut up and I cheered up. We can do it I thought and we did! So my question would be... What did Ron say to you after that game? Best wishes, Rob.
DM: Ron rarely spoke to us after a game about the result, and anyway there were no words he needed to say to us, they were all said by the Ipswich players as they climbed the stairs back to the changing rooms. They were shouting at the top of their voices that they had won the league, we needed no more incentive than those big mouth Ipswich players thinking and shouting that the league was theirs. We showed them.
Still Skeggy: How would the team of 1981/82 have competed in today's premiership?
DM: With today's knowledge on nutrition and training we would of been awesome!!!
Leo The Lion: Hi Dennis - what would be your personal choice when we get to rename the Witton Lane Stand*?
DM: The RON SAUNDERS Stand, and the Doc TARGET suite would be renamed the TONY BARTON suite.
The Lergy: Dennis, many, many thanks for your great contribution to the Villa! What do you think is causing the present team to be playing with (what seems to be) so little teamwork, method and penetration?
DM: Years of mismanagement, poor players bought with your money. What you need is a board of Directors prepared to put their own money into the club, not like the current board who only take it out.
fatloser: Dennis, do you feel that the team that you led ever got the plaudits that it deserved outside of Birmingham and would that team have been able to dominate for a longer period had there been no upheaval and perhaps more investment and ambition? (Sound familiar?!)
DM: I believe we did get the plaudits outside of Birmingham and yes Villa could of gone onto dominate the game if only Graham Turner and Doug Ellis hadn't come to the club.
And finally, because there is always one!!!
Deanovilla: Hi Dennis, what is your favourite cheese? ;-))
DM: The cheese I say when I have my photo taken.
Many thanks to Dennis for agreeing to take the time to talk to the fans! Any other players out there wanting to face the Vital Villa grilling, please feel free to get in contact with firstname.lastname@example.org !
Please note the copyright for this interview remains the property of Vital Network Ltd and Dennis Mortimer. NO re-production in any form is permitted without the authors express permission.