It’s been a productive few years for British sport, and an interesting one for English sport in particular. From the zenith of Super Saturday at London 2012 through to the ignominy of England’s exit at Euro 2016.
From Gareth’s Lions rising from the flames only to ultimately fall short, Sir Andy proving his worth in the midst of the greatest players of all time, through to one super over very recently that saw England crowned as Cricket World Cup champions for the first time in their history. It has truly been an emotional rollercoaster for all concerned.
But I realise that as emotional and glorious as these instances were, they still fall a distant second to a team from Aston who I am addicted to. Sure, I can always look back and say that I watched Jonny Wilkinson break the hearts of every Aussie worldwide, but I know that nothing will match the sheer exhilaration I felt when Stan smashed one into the top corner against Atletico Madrid. Or the relief and happiness I felt in equal measure when Dalian rose to equalise against Tranmere. Or the unshakeable belief I had on 27th May 2019, when Aston Villa stepped out at Wembley against Derby County. As good as Jonny or Sir Mo or Sir Andy may be, when it comes to sport, my first love will always be my heroes from Aston.
I always feel a sense of shame when people don’t like, or don’t ‘get’, sport. This is doubly so when people don’t ‘get’ football. It is a disease, an addiction that no-one wants to break free from. No-one wants to be ‘cured’, and whilst I sometimes get annoyed with the fact that a game of football can ruin my entire weekend, I know that I would never have it any other way. The agony, the anguish, the sheer frustration that encompasses the lives of 90% of all football fans, is worth it for the unadulterated joy that your team occasionally bring. More often than not, it’s heartache. But occasionally. Occasionally…
Football can be a great leveller. It can bond strangers. It can anger. Frustrate. But it’s all worth it for the joy. Oh, the joy. Yes, i’ll always remember where I was when Sir Mo won gold, but I’ll never forget how I felt when the final whistle went at Wembley. I’ll remember forever the feeling that coursed through my body when Jack scored at St Andrews. The excitement I feel when a transfer rumour spreads. The hours I’ve spent rewatching games on YouTube. Y’see, I’m addicted to Aston Villa. It’s a love affair that is often one-way. I sometimes feel neglected, under appreciated and let down. But like any love affair, you have to persevere, because the good times, no matter how fleeting, make it all worth it
Ultimately, all of my heroes are Villans.