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Author Topic: What's the point?  (Read 142056 times)

Online dave.woodhall

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What's the point?
« on: August 09, 2021, 02:47:33 PM »
The Jack Grealish transfer made me sad. Obviously there are a million things to be sad about these days, but as a man in his thirties I’m a little ashamed to admit that a man moving from one football team to another made me sad. I would be lying if I told you I haven’t thought. “If a club like us can’t keep a player like him, what’s the point?”

As Villa fans, we’ve danced this dance many times. I remember crying as a six year old when david Platt went, and then there was Yorke, Barry, Milner, Young (whatever happened to him?) Benteke, Delph… They all hurt, and I would love to say that it gets easier with each passing one, but it really doesn’t. The Delph one was a particularly personal one for me - he announced that he was staying during our wedding reception, it got a round of applause from all of the guests. Five days later I woke up in New York on our honeymoon to find out he’d gone. Our wedding book, crammed with messages about him, out of date less than a week into our marriage!

In every case above, my reaction was triggered by my worry about the implications for our team - how would we survive without them. I was also angry that they could turn their back on us, and jealous of the team that they were going to - what made them more attractive than us?

This time, that’s just not the case. I’m not angry. I probably should be, but I just can’t muster that feeling of rage. And I’m certainly not jealous of Manchester City and their fans. I’m just sad.

The lack of anger is not because I understand Jack’s decision. I don’t, at all - the most sympathetic I can get is to tell myself that maybe it’s his injury record that has made him act now. Does he worry that it’s now or never? Or does he think he can no longer play every week, so needs to go to a club that can afford to rotate him?

Even if that is the case, I don’t really understand it. I think he is an idiot - but I have thought that for a very long time. A good natured idiot, but an idiot nevertheless. The amount of trouble he’s got himself into over the years (and I’m sure not all of it has been made public) may well outweigh the genuinely nice things he’s done for fans and the community (and I’m sure not all of it has been made public) - I don’t know. I’m not sure who gets the final decision on these matters, but I imagine they’re probably on Twitter.

It’s all linked into why I’m not worried about what this is going to do to Villa - we’re going to be fine. With him, we were perhaps going to really challenge at the top of the league this season, and that is why so many people are angry with him, and why I don’t understand why he has left. His ‘dream’ of playing for Villa at the very top has never seemed more achievable - with one last push, maybe we could have got there. Like I said - he’s an idiot.

Do I dislike him like some of the others? I don’t know. I guess the next few months will probably inform that. If we get off to a flyer, I’ll certainly care much less about him. When we play Manchester City in November will tell us a lot as well. Any Dwight Yorke style badge-kissing and it will be difficult to forgive him ever.

That’s the crux of all this isn’t it - he portrayed himself as a Villa fan. I’m certain he was and there are plenty of things to support this that can’t be faked. The risk is though, if you cultivate that, which he certainly did, you have to expect a backlash when you leave. One of the central components that make up a fan is a deep rooted faith in your club, and he has shown that his faith in Villa no longer exists at his core.

There are countless comparisons that are made between our careers as ‘normal’ people. “You telling me you wouldn’t leave your job if you were offered more money…” and so on. These are as lazy as the mindset that a true fan would play for their club no matter what. The truth obviously lies in the middle somewhere, but it does pose the question: can a professional footballer really be a proper fan of a club? These days, it might be something else that only applies to the teams that get into Europe regularly - the ones that could offer them everything anyway, so what does their loyalty matter?

Which leads me on to Manchester City. In all honesty, every season I think to myself that if Villa can’t win it, I hope they do. Please don't stop reading at this point, because I can promise you that this is not down to any sort of affection for them.

Basically, I want every other club to fail - I’m sure I’m not alone in that. All that matters is Villa. I don’t want to see other fans happy, I want them to lose every single week. The reality is, of course, that someone has to win the league while we’re taking a 40+ year break from doing it ourselves. In which case, I want winning the league to mean as little as possible. I want it to be almost meaningless. And nothing is more meaningless than winning a trophy like Manchester City have been winning trophies. How they haven’t won every single competition for the last eight years can only be down to some kind of monumental incompetence, given the amount of money they have spent and the players at their disposal.

That’s why, with regards to their fans, I feel more pity than jealousy. I promise you, this isn’t some childish reaction to losing a player I loved, a desperate attempt to gain the higher ground - I mean it. Failure isn’t just not an option for Man City, it’s not a possibility. Finish fourth in the league - never mind, chuck another £200 million at it and it will probably be alright again.

Imagine trying to be passionate about a club like that? Imagine if the lowest you felt as a football fan was losing a final, having already won two trophies in the last few months?! Imagine knowing that every single victory, every single goal, is a direct result of a business transaction in 2008. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it was great for the first few years, and the last-minute win to pip your rivals to the league would have been particularly sweet, but what do they hope for now? What is your dream as a Manchester City fan? What keeps you going back every week? While I never want us to get relegated again, I’m not sure how I would feel if it could never happen in a million years.

People call it fantasy football, but I really don’t think this is any real football fan’s fantasy.

The year we came up from the Championship remains one of my favourites. I’ve seen us play with some brilliant players and won a couple of trophies, but the squad that involved Neil Taylor, Glenn Whelan and Tommy Elphick produced some of my happiest memories. The idea that everyone wants to watch the best players play for their club is slightly misleading, and surely just something cultivated by Sky (et al) to appeal to fans of football, rather than football fans. (Incidentally - who are these people?!? I rarely watch any match that doesn’t directly influence Villa, I can’t imagine ever watching football without caring who wins)

I sometimes worry about it myself, for Villa. We are certainly on an upward trajectory at the moment, and, similar to Man City, as a direct result of getting new owners. What would happen if we suddenly started winning everything every year - how would I feel? Picking the best players from our rivals to maintain the gap. I doubt we’ll ever get to that stage and we would surely struggle to match the spending of City (and Chelsea), but how would I feel if I did? Would I pretend that it’s all brilliant and get excited every summer about all the players we were going to buy to keep ahead of the rest. I honestly don’t know - but I can say from here, with little possibility of that happening, that it isn’t my dream.

So what’s the point? Why do I care so much, and devote so much of my life to this club, if it isn’t about sustained success? What is my dream?

It’s for things like watching a homegrown player, who was a genuine fan of your club, to grow up from a petulant and troublesome youth player to captain your team to winning trophies and playing at the highest level.

Or watching a new manager come in, who has loved the club his whole life, and dragging them up, back into the Premier League before progressing year in year to finally start competing with the best teams in Europe.

Maybe it’s watching a successful youth team blossom into a successful first team, packed full of local lads.

Not all dreams come true, of course, but is that a bad thing? Sure, when you are abruptly woken from one and you are confronted with reality, you may well be sad for a while, but that will pass. We can see what happens to clubs, and fan bases, when all their dreams do come true - they start to lose grip on reality and what really matters.

The rest of us will start a new dream, and hope at least a little bit of it comes true.

Maybe that’s the point.

Alex Whybrow

Offline RichardBatchelor

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2021, 04:58:22 PM »
Absolutely superb piece. Feel exactly the same.

At least we had half a dream and Jack didn’t piss off aged 18 like Wayne Rooney.

Offline ChicagoLion

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2021, 05:44:58 PM »
Well done Alex. You are right, he is an idiot.

Offline frankmosswasmyuncle

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2021, 05:54:14 PM »
Absolutely superb piece. Feel exactly the same.

At least we had half a dream and Jack didn’t piss off aged 18 like Wayne Rooney.

Captures my feelings about Jack, being a fan of The Villa and ManCit£y almost perfectly.

Offline Richard E

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2021, 05:56:19 PM »
What’s the point of anything, ultimately?

Offline Rico

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2021, 06:07:03 PM »
A very good and heartfelt post. I and many others of a slightly older generation can remember exactly the same pain that you are going through now when Andy Gray left in the late 70s. I couldn't believe it at the time. As a young boy he was my hero, he seemed indistructable and embodied everything that was good about Villa during that period. I remember thinking why would you want to leave Villa, the greatest club in the world?  I felt the same with David Platt and Dwight Yorke, but what you have to remember is that they are not Villa fans. They don't care about Aston Villa like we do, and that is what has hurt us about the whole Grealish saga. We thought he was one of us, we thought he cared like we do, but we were wrong.

Here's the thing though. Under our new owners I have no doubt whatsoever that we are going in the right direction, and I truly believe it is inevitable that we are going to start winning things again, and this time unlike the 70s and early 80s we are going to sustain our success, and when we start picking up those trophies a certain Mr Grealish will no doubt look at his pile of medals, but not one of them will mean as much to him as they do to us.

Keep the faith my friend. Success is coming...


Offline stubbsyandy

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2021, 06:13:22 PM »
Absolutely excellent piece with which I identify pretty much 100%…thank for sharing

Offline RichardBatchelor

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2021, 06:25:00 PM »
The other thing I would add is not only the fact that Grealish is a local boy but also that he is such an entertainer, a maverick somewhat in the Le Tissier mould I’d say, and joins such an awful club. It’s as if he’s been bought not to improve their side (how could you, really?) but add a bit of pizzazz to their admittedly brilliant, but dull-as-ditchwater robotic, FIFA 2021 football, just for marketing purposes. Even if we are a better side, we will be more prosaic, and that hurts before you even go into the local boy stuff. Ah well, bollocks to it.

Offline dorsetvillian

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2021, 06:47:31 PM »
Great read Dave. Couldn't have said it better.

Offline Luffbralion

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2021, 06:55:48 PM »
A great article and excellent replies. The key word for me is "dream". Football used to have a real element of romance; well run clubs and well managed teams achieving justified success. This was epitomised by Brian Clough's Forest and the fact that Ron Saunders team, containing not a single current international, won the league in 1981.

The Premier League and the Sky revolution pretty much killed all that.For me romance was dead. Money was all. (I know Leicester in 2016 bucked the trend but that was a one off).

However, winning the Championship play off managed and captained by true Villa fans who embodied the values and traditions of the club re-kindled that sense of romance that I thought had been pretty much destroyed. In a way we were lucky to have Jack for as long as we did but the inevitability of his departure to such a soullless "project" only reminds us that nowadays money trumps everything. Hang on to your dreams guys, however fleeting they may be.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2021, 06:59:16 PM by Luffbralion »

Offline Ian.

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2021, 07:16:13 PM »
Excellent article, thanks for sharing.

Offline Behind Bluenose Lines

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2021, 07:37:18 PM »
On a philosophical note re Mr Grealish & £iteh (wtf was that leather chair all about the other day: thought Big Brother was finished now!):

"Living well is the best revenge." William Herbert (no, not that Herbert, as in Ellis!).

Offline West Derby Villan

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2021, 07:46:53 PM »
What a fantastic read, spot one

Offline Nunkin1965

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2021, 07:47:56 PM »
That was an enjoyable read and it encapsulated such a lot of the way I feel about Aston Villa.

Offline hipkiss92

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Re: What's the point?
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2021, 08:08:12 PM »
Brilliantly put


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