Vital Football

Latest Aston Villa News

Something For The Weekend (110)

Something For The Weekend (110)

By Steve Wade

A rather momentous week for Villa, as after what seemed like an eternity of uncertainty Randy at last got his shares and Doug Ellis pocketed his cheque, handed in his lamp and helmet at the pit-head baths, donned his bicycle-clips and tootled off over the cobbles to start his new life of tending his allotment, talking to his pigeons and walking his whippets along the canal bank, in the melancholy evening of his life.

No doubt as he ended his long association with the club and took his wistful journey home, he might have felt a slight lump in his throat and the salute of the security men, as he passed through the gate for the last time, might have tugged at a tear-duct, as any old soldier might feel, on leaving the colours behind. It is likely that his thoughts went back to the day he arrived and that the comparison of then and now must have been palpable, with every creaking turn of his bicycle-peddles and the ache of his stiff back. It must have been with a bitter sweet realisation, that the difference
of what he was and what he had become had been left at that place. Once home he would hang his leaving certificate on the parlour wall, put his retirement clock on the mantelpiece and sit there and listen to it tick away the twilight.

He might take a little cosy comfort in contemplating his little nest-egg, now safely in his Post Office account, and feel satisfied that it should, if he's careful, see him out and still leave a few bob for his missus to
comfort her, when he's gone. Perhaps he'll splash out on a new suite for the lounge and finally get round to papering the spare bedroom, in something a bit 'jazzy'. And every morning when he nips down the newsagents for his paper, he'll get used to those early morning rib-ticklers: 'Retired Doug? Its alright for some - ha ha!'.

But joking apart, even with a mansion with a Roller in the drive and more bank accounts than your average football manager, retirement still presents a challenge, and probably even more so to someone with the sort of restless spirit which never knew the meaning of enough (except where transfers were concerned). So, apart from turning up for every Villa game for the sheer joy of annoying his detractors (which means me), I expect he'll continue making a nuisance of himself elsewhere too. As he well knows, having twenty million quid which you just might spend (I'd love to be there when he negotiates a
discount on his new Roller), certainly makes people a little more tolerant of ones foibles, than they otherwise might be, and doors will continue to open. He's probably been a bit annoying all his life so he's not going to stop now. As someone once famously said - I didn't get where I am today without being ......(suggestions?)

He must also know that even Presidents can find stuff, which was named after them, can be changed to something else. Even if you are JFK (the most famous and romanticized of the 20th century), you can suddenly lose a Cape and be just left with an airport. So if Doug is really concerned about his legacy, he still has plenty of work that needs doing. Setting up an Ellis trust to provide football scholarships for under-privileged kids across the world, would be a fantastic legacy and would more than justify his Honour.

He might start by taking the FA's half-built school of excellence off their hands, and using someone like Beckham as the high-profile brand name, he could combine the school of excellence concept with his charitable trust, which would mean spending other people's money (always an agreeable pastime), with the ultimate goal being, to then charge the FA to use it for its original purpose, as well as for football scholarships. Surely as a charitable trust it would be more likely to get Lottery money, than the profligate and feckless FA.

Of course, better still would be if Villa bought it and built their state-of-the-art training facility, without the planning restrictions which have constantly dogged Bodymore Heath. With the present squad scattered across the country, the location of the training ground would seem less important - doesn't McCann live in Preston?. The hotel would provide the sort of facilities, which would avoid a repeat of the Angel fiasco, where he was left looking for B&B in Perry Barr. I am sure, Doug can only dream of being put in charge of such a project, especially if he got to sell the thing back to Villa (just kidding).

My feelings about Doug's Villa legacy are mixed and none too clear - there's the history and then there's the man. Just like other historical figures, you can't help but speculate about, at what point, should he have retired, which would have left him with the greatest credit. My guess would be after the cup final in 2000 - the club was simultaneously at a football and financial peak (worth 120m in 1999)

I eventually became disillusioned with Doug but despite reaching the conclusion that he was holding back investment and that he was interfering with team affairs by deciding which players he would sanction money for and which he would not, ultimately it was freedom of contract and the increase in player-power, which proved the biggest source of disenchantment for me. Player-power which seemed to be endorsed by the Chairman, to the manager's disadvantage.

I sometimes forget that for many Villa fans, perhaps even a majority, a Villa under Doug's control, is all they have ever known. To them the joys of some great players, some good teams, some fine managers and some memorable finals; all came with Doug at the helm. For me, Big Ron will always represent a high water-mark for sheer quality of football, financed of course by the Taylor legacy, and Brian Little's return, with its influx of youth and what looked like a proper long-term plan for the club, seemed to place Villa on the cusp of something great but when Little walked out, when the club looked to be on the verge of something so special, it revealed something was wrong at the very heart of the club. John Gregory's hostility to Ginola, made it look very much like he wasn't a player he had chosen. It was impossible to believe Villa had just been unlucky as they went into decline.

But love him, loath him or grudgingly respect or resent him, Doug is an indelible part of Villa's history.

I think the fans have some happy memories and certainly they've laughed and cried, some might have had their fill and their share of losing and sometimes, it hasn't exactly been amusing. To think that he did all that and not really in a shy way. But in the end he's a man and what has he got? About twenty million quid actually. What is a man? If not himself, McGrath, McNaught? To speak of managers - Turners and McNeills. Did he ever say what he truly feels and not the words of someone who does deals? His record shows the Blues were foes and he took us sideways.

Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh.
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.

Writer:J P Fear
Date:Saturday September 23 2006
Time: 9:34AM

Login to post a comment

Recent Aston Villa Articles

Aston Villa FA Cup 3rd Round Away To Spurs On BBC

The Official site have confirmed that Aston Villa`s FA Cup 3rd round game v Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane will be screened on BBC.

An Interview With A Wigan Fan Ahead Of Villa Park Clash

An interview with Barry from Vital Wigan ahead of the weekends clash between Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic

The Xia Interview - Part 4 - Will He Sell Aston Villa?

The final part of our look at the Tony Xia interview. Will he build Aston Villa to sell it on?

Villa Fan (Opinion Piece) 5 Opponents I Hate

Juan Pablo Angel on the five opponents he hates!

Archived Vital Villa Articles

Vital Villa articles from

Site Journalists

J P Fear
Editor email
Mike Field
Editor email
Steve Wade
no email
no email
Turkish Penguin
no email
no email
Chris Heath
no email
M Calucar
no email
JuanPablo Angel
no email

Current Poll (see more polls)

The Vital Villa Player Of November
Suggested By: JP Fear
Adomah 5%
ScoopDragon Publishing Entire League Network of Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Newcastle 19 13 1 5 40 21
2 Brighton 19 11 6 2 39 17
3 Reading 19 10 4 5 34 1
4 Leeds Utd 19 10 2 7 32 3
5 Birmingham 19 8 7 4 31 2
6 Sheff Wed 19 9 4 6 31 1
7 Norwich 19 9 3 7 30 4
8 Huddersfield 19 9 3 7 30 -3
9 Derby County 19 8 5 6 29 4
10 Fulham 19 7 7 5 28 9
11 Bristol City 19 8 3 8 27 4
12 Barnsley 19 7 4 8 25 3
13 Forest 19 7 4 8 25 1
14 Preston 19 7 4 8 25 1
15 Aston Villa 19 5 10 4 25 1
16 Ipswich 19 6 6 7 24 -2
17 Q.P.R. 19 6 5 8 23 -8
18 Brentford 19 6 4 9 22 -2
19 Burton 19 5 7 7 22 -4
20 Wolves 19 5 6 8 21 -3
21 Blackburn 19 5 5 9 20 -7
22 Cardiff 19 5 4 10 19 -12
23 Wigan 19 4 6 9 18 -5
24 Rotherham 19 1 4 14 7 -26
Vital Football Comment
Latest F1 News
Straight fight between Wehrlein & Bottas for M
Latest Vital Boxing News
John H Stracey Talks About That Night in 1975
Write for Vital Football

Recent Aston Villa Results (view all)

Aston Villa Fixtures (view all)

Dec 10 2016 3:00PM : Wigan Athletic (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Dec 13 2016 7:45PM : Norwich City (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Dec 18 2016 12:00PM : Queens Park Rangers (a)
Sky Bet Championship
Dec 26 2016 3:00PM : Burton Albion (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Dec 29 2016 7:45PM : Leeds United (H)
Sky Bet Championship
Jan 2 2017 3:00PM : Cardiff City (a)
Sky Bet Championship

Vital Members League Table

1.The Fear195
7.Stephen Jay Hawkings55
10.Melon Donkey32
The Vital Football Members League