Sir Buck Of Chinn - Unsung Villa Hero
There are plenty of people over the years who have been unsung heroes for Villa. To be honest, I think most heroes are unsung and one of the biggest unsung, unheralded and for many of you unknown (mostly because he never asked for recognition or praise for what he did) Villa heroes is Buck Chinn. And no, I don't use the word hero lightly. I know how difficult it is to try to campaign for what you believe to be right, people by their very nature will either agree but just nod from the sidelines and not join in or they'll do nothing but criticise. That never stopped Buck from doing what he thought was right for us, the Villa clan.
Some of you know doubt will know local presenter and all round good guy Carl Chinn or to give him his full title, Professor Carl Chinn MBE phd, but only a certain generation of active Villa fans will remember Buck.
Sadly at the moment Sir Buck of Chinn is currently suffering from stomach cancer, but the guy is a fighter, a true gent and I'm sure he'll not let a thing like that stand in his way. So this article is really to say that you are in my and many Villa fans thoughts and many of us appreciate what you did over the years.
I spoke with Carl the other day, very briefly he gave me an outline of his dad's love of Villa.
'Dad (Buck) started going down the Villa in the 1940s shortly after the war. He wasn't able to go as much as he wanted to because Granddad was a street bookie and Dad worked for him. He started going down again regularly in the late 1960s when me and our kid (another top Chinny, Daryl) were young. Mom, Sylve, is a big Villa fan from Whitehouse Street, Aston and the four of us would go with our Mom's Mom, Lil and a crowd of family and friends.'
'When Ron Saunders resigned in 1982 there was real uproar because in the previous season he had led us to the First Division title - the first for decades - and we felt he had been pushed out by the board. Dad called a meeting of protestors at the Royal Oak Sparkbrook and he became chairman of the Aston Villa Democracy Group which arose from that meeting. The aim was to get a fan elected democratically on to the board and for the fans to have more say in the running of the club, as well as for the club to think more about the fans.'
'This was a pioneering group. A couple of years later Dad became chairman of the Aston Villa Shareholders Association and he led it with passion and pride for over 20 years until a year or so before it was wound up after Randy Lerner became the owner of the club.'
As Carl added, Buck was one of the few who would raise his head above the parapet and try to stand up for the grass root fans via the press and at the Villa AGM's.
'On one occasion he was voted on to the board by a big majority of the large crowd at the AGM. However Doug Ellis overturned the vote by demanding a count of the actual shares. The small shareholders had voted for Dad but had few shares, the large shareholders stuck by Doug Ellis.'
As Chairman of the Shareholders Association, Buck used to organise a sports forum each year when the manager would attend, meet the members and answer questions etc. This was something that I was sadly unable to continue when I took over from Sir Buck, mainly because our manager was David O'Leary and despite telling the press (the ........ insert your own word) that he'd never been invited to any forums, I had a written letter from the git refusing, as he had also done with Tom Ross... I digress.
Buck, as well as arranging many away trips for members, campaigned tirelessly for years for fans including getting ticket costs spread across the season and pushed to try to get them to be interest fee. He fought for concessions for students and the unemployed and continually tried to promote the need for lifts at the ground for the elderly, disabled and infirm... I could go on and on.
As Carl said: 'Dad always spoke up for the ordinary fans. He is a true Villa fan.'
Amen to that and you can add a true gentlemen whilst you are at it. I was lucky enough to get to know Buck and the real boss of the Chinn clan, his lovely wife Sylvia via my association with Carl (through he VFC campaign group). It was an honour and a privilege to be involved with Buck and is an even bigger honour now to count him as a friend. Many an afternoon we'll ring each other, sort out the formation and players for Villa before moving on to fixing all the woes in the world. If only all the other buggers would listen to us eh Buck?
One of the biggest honours I've ever had in my life was at a Shareholders Association meeting when Buck said he was stepping down and that 'obviously the best candidate to take over the Chairman role is Jon'. I was sitting there nodding saying I agreed before realising he meant me (I rarely get called Jon to be fair, so I wasn't being totally thick!), not the other Jon (another gent, John Holder of the Cheltenham Lions Supporters Group) I felt a right big head sitting there nodding saying yes...! lol But once is sunk in just how long Buck had led this group and what he had done, I was deeply moved and grateful for what at the time was a massive confidence boost at a strange old time in my life op etc wise, so personally I have much to thank him for.
So Buck, you keep fighting mate, my thoughts and love are with you. Your attitude is bang on, your kindness in life shows through with your fantastic wife, son's and grandkids, I know they are all proud of you and so are all those who have been associated with you over the years.
Up the Villa and up the Chinn clan!