• The Villa Vision

A Villan Abroad

A return to Villa Park for fans is surely something on every supporters wish list for the Holidays. For all you season ticket holders, communication on the issue has been frustrating even for the most patient of fans. On the other hand, the “playing field” is now level in a sense for all the countless fans abroad. Whether you’re a lifelong Holte Ender, an Expatriate living abroad, or just some random person who’s love of football led you to watching Villa and it just stuck, we all are stuck watching from home or maybe a pub with a few socially distanced mates if you’re lucky.

My ritual for watching my favorite team play has always been through a screen because I’ve never had a chance to make the pilgrimage to Villa Park in person. Now everyone is on the same page as me, you might get to step outside and see Villa Park, but you are no closer to seeing our players take the pitch than I am… and I HATE THAT. I love watching villa play obviously, but something about the games since the lockdown began gives me a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Not hearing the roar of the crowd, the cheers, Jeers, and the jovial belting of Neil Diamond really makes me stop and take notice of how lucky I was to watch all those games by myself before. Despite often enjoying our Tricky Villans’ antics by myself I never really felt alone on matchdays. The brief clips of fans pouring in through the turnstiles, or fellow fans at the ground moaning about their Villa Dogs, always made me feel a bit special. I had a special community not unlike religious services for some, and I absolutely took it for granted.

 I don my Villa top on matchdays for no one but my family to see, I check in with some other fans who don’t live anywhere close to me and I usually scream and shout (to my families chagrin) at every opportunity missed our buried. All that is the same as it has always been but paradoxically it’s also not. It might be hard to understand, but I want fans back to share the joys of football at villa park as much as anyone.

Looking back, I still think of a fateful day in May I woke up bright and early full of excitement and no trace of weariness, like a kid ready to open gifts on Christmas. It did happen to be a holiday for us in the states but, I warned my partner I’d have an alarm set and offered to wake with our infant son if need be. I almost thought to sleep in my kit just for luck but decided that might be too much even for me.  I allowed myself to open a beer for the game to help with nerves I thought “No one else is awake to judge me at 6:30 AM anyway.” I turned the sound system down so I wouldn’t disturb the kids as much as possible and settled in. I messaged some friends in Birmingham my predictions and thoughts trying and tried to get a gage on how everyone was feeling. Somehow in my small apartment 8 time zones away the air still felt electric. I managed to behave until Jack put his 1st good attempt over the bar. I tried to stifle my cries as best I could until Anwar dove to put that ball in… I shouted a hearty “ YEAHHHHH GET IN!” My kids were definitely not still asleep. I spent half time apologizing to everyone and messaging everyone to share my elation. Super John McGinn caused another commotion in my apartment shortly after. I nervously waited out the rest of the clock and managed myself like an adult until the final whistle only to jump along with the boys after the whistle, like a maniac. I put on Sweet Caroline and serenaded everyone in the building. My family could only stay disgruntled for a short while, my mood soon melted all their discontent away with my gushing joy overwhelming them. It was simply a perfect day.

2020 has proved to have its own highs and lows (mostly lows obviously) but its also had a smattering of bright spots. I try to keep things in perspective and take the joy when I can. The days when I get to enjoy Villa playing, even if it’s only from my phone as I’m working grant me a level of gratitude that is much needed for this year. Where I live the Coronavirus is not taken nearly as seriously as it should be, and it is hard to hear news from other parts of the world that have handled things MUCH better still having a hard time.  I hope for every fan (even begrudgingly the blues...) that we can work together and all return to the place we love so much. When that magical euphoric day rolls around I’ll still be here sitting on my couch shouting “UP THE VILLA!!!”

Article by: Cahen Barlos Twitter | The Villa Vision Twitter | Facebook Page | Facebook Group

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