Date:Monday December 8 2008
Many an owner have I known
As someone who regularly visited Villa Park from the late 50's I've supported Villa under some real stars as owners and I've done my bit to complain about their short comings.
My first real experience of unrest was when I used to wait at the Beggars Bush or The Mount pub for my dad to finish work. Much was the disquiet from the common man that our owner, Smith had allowed a decent 57 Cup winning side, and the Mercer Minors to drift into near oblivion. Then later in life when I played in the Works Leagues, the talk was of how he was bankrupt and the club with him.
Of course eventually we really did go down, I was loosely involved in some fan pressure and was one of those who sat on the pitch and did the Conga around a very empty ground as the game dwindled away.
One thing for Smith he loved Aston Villa
He of course eventually sold out to Mr Douglas Ellis and he brought in one Tommy Docherty. What a change that was. How the belief came back, I helped paint the Holte end , but again Ellis too didn't have the finance needed, but he had contacts he had ideas and he did move things, but again Villa didn't quite get it right.
Past players were bought to the board, scrap metal dealers were co-opted on to and Villa suffered some years of infighting and relegation to Division 3. It wasn't all bad mind, we fans can tell tale after tales of
home and away games full of fun, we were a joke
End result Mr Bendall came to power. Only met him twice, arrogant bloke, I thought, I didn't like him one bit but he gave Saunders enough backing to produce the greatest moments of Villa's recent History.
Then back came Doug, evil, evil Doug. Funnily enough I never liked him either, in any of his times at Villa, I to this day believe he had only one thing under consideration, Doug Ellis. I liked him as a bloke, especially in later years but he missed so many opportunities to push Villa on. Selling off the Championship side so early was his first big mistake, but he made others, including some shocking managerial choices.
Trouble was no manager was ever allowed to get on with the job, even when funding became available at the eleventh hour when just that little bit more was needed he always failed. For me the biggest reason that Villa are not a top 4 club, they had the chance his stewardship blew it, but then hadn't all his predecessors in their own way too.
Yep they had, whether they loved the club like Smith, Parkes, or whether they were just in it for them,selves like Bendall and Ellis they all blew it.
Then of course along came this bloke from the Colonies, strange fella, because of friends who worked for him I know a little about the man and the way he operates. It is a little mind, but everything they suggested has over his 3 seasons of tenure come to pass, and verily I say they were 100% right. Well it looks like it from where I sit in my armchair looking towards my 60th birthday.
You know what, Randy Lerner has done in his term so far has for the first time in my 51 years of supporting the club, more to enable the club as a real power in Football than anyone. He's done it too at a time when football is at a peak in this country one its not seen the like of before.
That's a remarkable achievement in its own right. But what is bigger still, is that for the first time in those 51 years I feel happy Villa is in the right hands for the longer term.
He's not perfect, of course but he's still far ahead of any previous owner I've ever known and I've supported Villa under a few.
Thanks Randy Lerner, Merry Christmas to you and all yours, you really are the MAN
Date:Monday December 8 2008
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