Why Villa? Liam Bryan

Christmas Day, one of my favourite days of the year. For a single day I am surrounded by my loving, caring family members whilst exchanging presents and eating delicious Christmas delicacies, all united by the spirit of the holiday. Despite only living on planet earth for 15 years, some of my favourite memories have been in direct correlation with or have occured during the festive period. Memories have been made due to the fact that the month of December allows me to reassess my life, celebrate my achievements but eradicate negativity and start new hobbies or gain new interests such as football.

Christmas Day in 2012, a day that I had anticipated to be joyous, turned out to be monumental. When waking up that morning what I did not know was that 25th December 2012 would be the day that my adoration for Aston Villa would blossom. 

Filled with excitement, I quickly ran down the staircase and sharply turned facing the door to the living room. Slowly I turned the handle, full of elation as my eyes darted towards the corner of the room where my presents lay. Enthusiastically I proceeded in opening my presents, one after the other till a tiny envelope was all that was left. Confused, I opened the envelope to find sets of tickets. Sets of tickets? Unhurriedly I began to read the details on the ticket, highlighting the words Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic and football. Tickets to a football match? After over a year of attempting to convince my parents to allow me to attend a football match accompanied by my Dad, these tickets symbolised my parents giving me the green light. Most importantly these tickets symbolised my progression as a person as I was now trusted with elements of responsibility, unaware at the time I was growing up.

A rush of energy overrode my senses, I started to become proud, upset, emotional. Immediately I embraced my parents while teardrops slowly trickled down my cheek. After months of emulating my favourite stars at grassroots level, I was now being allowed to attend my first ever football game alongside my Dad. This would not only trigger my obsession for football but sharing the same interest as my Dad would strengthen our relationship for an eternity. From talking tactics to debating starting XI’s, as our love for Villa grew stronger my admiration and respect for my Dad as well as for my Mom also grew. This one single act of kindness during Christmas Day of 2012 changed my life and I am forever grateful.

In terms of the result, my first outing to Villa Park did not go according to plan as Paul Lambert’s side lost 3-1 but that is not what I took away from that experience. To be able to spend time with my Dad, to experience different cultures, to speak to different people, all passionate for the same cause was what I enjoyed the most. Looking back, having been part of the Villa faithful now for 8 years, there have been some highs, many lows but nevertheless my love for Aston Villa has never died. Why Villa? I did not necessarily choose to support the boys in claret and blue but that present on Christmas Day in 2012, tickets to watch Aston Villa play Wigan Athletic, changed my life for the better.

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