Friday, January 30, 2009

NY Villans Update - Premiership Week 24. Wigan.

Almost forgot to write this weeks update. Probably due to all the excitement in the transfer market, sarcasm btw. Three days of the extended transfer window left and only one signing in, granted the boy didn't do too badly last week scoring the winner on his debut. While our Emile isn't the type of flashy player that will sell shirts by the bucketload it not hard to see why MON would want him in the team. Tuesday's game was the type of banana skin fixture we rarely get anything from, Hesky is ideal for such fixtures with his brute force. Tomorrows game against Wigan is surely another occasion when Heskeys specialised set of skills will come in handy. We can be sure that our opposition will do what they usually do put men behind the ball and make things difficult. In such circumstances Gabby alone is like opening a bottle of wine with a safety pin, frustrating. However throw Heskey in there and it's like opening said bottle with a chainsaw, it's not pretty but brutally effective and with our currently league position I couldn't give a toss about prettiness just keep the points rolling in.

Tomorrows game is live on Fox Soccer Channel at 10am with Arsenal against West Ham on at the same time. Nevada goers I'm betting anything we will have the downstairs bar to ourselves, which is always a treat albeit we have to climb the stairs in order to mock the Arsenal plonkers. Since we have had so many new members recently, if you are in New York or nearby come watch the games with us at Nevada Smiths in Manhattan 3rd avenue at 11th street. If you are elsewhere and want to meet fellow Villa fans in your area, drop us a line and we will put you in contact with each other. Back to the fixture in question:

Expect the same team as we saw Tuesday with possibly Reo-Coker filling in at right-back and the once again impressive Zat Knight back on the bench. Marlon Harewood is out with a foot injury (yeah right) and his place well... prepare for the return of.... BIG JOHN CAREW!! Yes our number 10 is back from 2 months of back treatment following 45 minutes against Derby behind closed doors. Also featuring in that match was Freddy 'ball and man' Bouma. I know as Doug would say, it's like 2 new signings!! Freddy will take a little more recuperation before returning to the squad and I can't wait to see him.

Two Villa greats will be remembered at tomorrows match Vic Crowe and Johnny Dixon. Johnny was of course the captain of our 1957 FA Cup winning team spending 16 years at the club. Vic missed the cup final through injury but later captained Villa back into the top flight with added success in the 1961 League Cup, he also managed Villa from 70 to 74 a period some of our more seasoned members remember. On a more local level Vic also managed the Portland Timbers in the North American Soccer League and had a profound success at making the game popular in the Pacific Northwest.

Not much other news to report Zoltan Steiber is gone to German second division side TuS Koblenz, it's sad as I thought he had bags of talent but was unable to develop enough physically for the English game. To think if he had spent just three weeks on my diet he would be bigger than Harewood (without the muscle).

We are still linked with a couple of random players: Micah Richards, Daniel Sturridge, some Belgian with the ridiculous name of Eden Hazard, Charles N'Zogbia and every English player born after 1974. On the other side Nicky Shorey could be on his way to Boro and Marlon Harewood could be on his way to the glue factory. Martin Laursen has retired from international football in order to extend his club career, he remains on the injury list and finally there is a new Facebook group petitioning for the Doug Ellis stand to be renamed the Moustafa Salifou stand, can't disagree with that.

Up the Villa.

...and one final word, like Springer's 'final thought' only completely different.

People keep saying we have been lucky recently, it's hard to disagree with that statement but what many people on the outside don't realise is how rubbish we have been performing. Since playing Man U in November our only decent performances have been against Arsenal and Bolton, every other match we have been well below our peak and the results have continued to pile in. What I have to say to those fans of rival clubs who are calling us "lucky?" What do you think will happen when we start playing well?


Friday, January 23, 2009

NY Villans Update - FA Cup Round 4. Doncaster.

The nation asked for change.

Change has arrived.

With Donal packing up and heading to not-so-sunny Florida for the weekend, the torch has been passed to me and I will do my best to live up to his high standards. This weekend sees Villa head to Doncaster Rovers for a FA Cup fourth round tie, courtesy of not having drawn Manchester United in the 3rd round for the first time since 1957. The match is a 3pm local kick-off, meaning a reasonable 10am EST time for those of us lucky enough to be freezing to death on the East Coast. The usual New York City crowd will gather at Nevada Smith's to watch the match live, please check your local listings for additional coverage.

Last time out in the league Villa swatted in another away win thanks to Jimmy Milner's best Maradona impersonation and a dubious penalty decision. Gareth Barry made no mistake from the spot though and nearly ripped off the roof of the net with his blasted effort. 3 points is 3 points, we'd rather be lucky than good right?

In transfer "news" rumors swirl around a 3.5m GBP "swoop" for the ageless (and England international) Emile Heskey and the deal could be done as soon as I hit send on this email. Of course, it could all be a steaming pile and Villa will trudge into February with no signings of note, or MON could surprise us all and bring in a Brazilian or two for a few hundred million pounds.

Next up in the league is Portsmouth away on Tuesday the 27th. Nevada Smiths will carry that match live at 3pm EST, but again, check your local listings. I doubt many will be able to make it out for this one live, but hopefully you can all avoid the score to watch it later on your sweet DVR setup.

Until next time, UTV!


Thursday, January 08, 2009

NY Villans Update - Premiership Week 21. The Baggies.

The West Brom fixture is an interesting one. Unlike our sad crosstown rivals, Albion have a rich and rather successful history - five time FA Cup winners, League and League Cup champions in their time as well as the shared honour of founding the football League. So you would imagine the local rivalry to be rather big with only 4 miles separating the stadiums of both teams but it just isn't like that. Ask any Baggie and they will be happy to tell you how much they dispise the Villa but on the flip side Villa fans really couldn't care less about West Brom and some even follow Albion as a second team. This indifference drives Albion fans mad but it leaves them much more excited about Saturday's match than the Villa faithful. Head-to-head we have already snatched 3 points from them this season when Carew and Gabby each scored in what was a very tense 2-1 victory with all goals coming in the first half. This clash is bound to be just as nerve racking with Curtis Davies facing his old club as well as Luke Young and Scott Carson on the other side. For us the importance is not in the local nature of the game but the possible impact on the league table with Arsenal one would expect more than capable of picking up 3 points at home to Bolton. Laursen and Cuellar may all be fit for selection but it is unlikely that Martin O'Neill will drop the in-form Zat Knight unless one of them is 100% fit. Barry is expected to start following an injury scare that may yet require surgical treatment during the next international break.

This one is Live on Setanta Saturday at the Unmerciful hour of 07:45am ET this first pint at that hour is always the most difficult but a couple of early goals will help it slip down.

It's silly season once again as the transfer window has opened, so far not much happening at Bodymoor Heath with Wayne Routledge departing for QPR and the signing of Young Dutch defender Arsenio Halfhuid for Excelsior. The 17 year old was thrown straight into reserve action in a 3-3 draw with Crewe.

The club today announced a partnership with Thomas Cook who will soon be offering discount Villa packages. No idea what if anything this will do for fans on this side of the pond but we will keep an eye on it. Speaking of traveling there was a number of US fans at Boxing days Arsenal match where Terri had our flag proudly displayed at the front of the Holte where a fair few of you managed to spot it on TV back in the US. The flag was also noticed by Curtis Davies whom Bob met following the game. No idea if it was our flag that inspired Zat Knights last minute equaliser but we might as well claim full credit. Plans are still very much under way for an official US Villa trip to the end of season Newcastle game, more details when we get our thumbs out of our arses in the next few weeks. In the near term Levi Ramsey up in Springfield MA is looking to put together a Tottenham double header in March should we progress to face them in the UEFA cup he's looking at $700 for 5 nights in Brum and flights Boston->Newark->Brum obviously cheaper if going direct from Newark if anyone fancies that action packed trip you will find Levi on the American Villans section of Villatalk

We have been contacted by a Villa fan making the trip over to New York in April, John Russell a veteran supporter and regular contributer to Heroes & Villains. John also has a passion for Baseball and has in the last 10 years visited every Major League stadium by Public Transport no less and anyone who has ever been to Detroit will know that finding a bus is an achievement in itself, to mark this achievement John is on file at the Baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown more than likely the only Englishman there. Now we are all aware that New York will very soon have two new major League stadiums and John is hoping to visit both during his 16 day stay which we imagine will be a challenge due to high ticket demands. So if anybody can spare a ticket or knows anyone who can help John get access to one be sure to let us know. Bill Howell recently penned an article on John for the Birmingham mail which you can read here: certainly an interesting visitor and one we look forward to meeting.

Speaking of Baseball, did you know that at one time Aston Villa had a baseball club competing with three other teams Derby, Stoke and Preston in the National Baseball League of Great Britain and Ireland? The Treasurer of said league was none other than Football League founder William McGregor? It appears the game was introduced to fill stadiums during the summer off season in the 1890's and many of the football players would switch over to play. Eventually the sport faded from England but it's interesting to think what may have been had it gained popularity.

On a final sad note we would like to take this opportunity to pay our respects to Victor Krulak father of Aston Villa director The General, Charles Krulak whom recently passed away in San Diego at the grand age of 95. The Generals father a Lieutenant General himself was a hero of three wars and was awarded the Navy Cross in his very distinguished career. It appears Victor had become excited about Aston Villa since his son became involved with the club and joins the many generations of Holtenders in the sky. Rest in peace.