Villa Noise: Rooney's good taste, Westwood booked and Mastermind
Look behind-the-scenes in B6.
10th Feb 2016
Villa Noise: Rooney's good taste, Westwood booked and Mastermind


Ashley Westwood is nowhere near ready to hang up his boots - but star author Lee Child has already found him a new career for the future.

Midfielder Westwood is the latest Villan to feature as a character in a Jack Reacher thriller, appearing as a science editor for the Los Angeles Times in his new book 'Make Me'.

Graham Taylor is a suspected kidnapper. McGrath and Milosevic are FBI agents in Chicago. Teale is a bent mayor. Yorke is an abandoned mining town in Montana.

You couldn't make it up, could you? Then again, maybe you could, particularly if you're a best-selling author.

The names of Villa players and managers appear frequently throughout the novels of Lee Child, whose thrillers have sold 40m copies in 75 countries and have been translated into 38 languages.

He lives in New York and his stories about giant ex-military policeman Jack Reacher couldn't be more American.

But Child, real name Jim Grant, was born in Coventry, brought up in Handsworth Wood - and is a staunch Villan.

Westwood was delighted to see his name used in the latest installment - although he also expressed his total surprise.

He told us: "One of the club journalists told me about it - I couldn't believe it, I was really shocked.

"I believe his books have sold millions around the world so it's incredible to think I'll feature in one read by so many people."

Westwood

List of Villa names in Lee Child books

Killing Floor - Teale, Gray
Die Trying - McGrath, Milosevic, Yorke
The Visitor - Withe, Scimeca
Without Fail - Swain
Persuader - Angel
The Enemy - Vassell, Carbone
Bad Luck and Trouble - Docherty
The Hard Way - John Gregory, Graham Taylor, Burke
Nothing To Lose - Shaw
Worth Dying For - Hogg, Parish
The Affair - Geezer Butler
A Wanted Man - Sorensen, Delfouneso
Never Go Back - Pete Espin (supporter)
Personal - Antonio Luna
Make Me - Ashley Westwood, McCann, Maloney

**********

Lee Child was guest editor of the Villa News & Record for the Leicester game.

And, as well as an exclusive interview with his star player Gordon Cowans, he also offered us some interesting content surrounding his personal claret and blue favourite things.

Check out the list below.

Atkinson

Best Wembley win

March 1994. League Cup Final against Man Utd.

They were Alex Ferguson's first great team - Cantona, Giggs etc - and were overwhelming favourites but we bossed them from the first whistle and won easily.

A day to remember, for sure.

Best shirt

Has to be the 1982/83 home shirt - simple, elegant with the small round 'Champions of Europe' badge.

It doesn't get better than that. It still have mine.

Best away game

November 1982, Stoke 0-3 Villa.

It was a cold day and less than a month from Christmas.

The heater in my car was bust and I was freezing by the time I got to the Victoria Ground.

But two from Gary Shaw plus an own-goal gave us a solid win.

The place was rocking with 'Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells…jingle all the way, oh what fun it is to see the Villa win away.'

Taylor

Friendliest manager

Before I was a writer, I worked for Granada TV in Manchester.

In May 1988 we had secured promotion and I dialled the Villa Park switchboard and said my name and said I was calling from Granada and asked to speak to Graham Taylor.

He came on the line and I told him that technically while it was true that I was calling from Granada, the real reason for the phonecall was that I was a lifelong fan and wanted to say thanks for a great season and for getting us back into the First Division.

He laughed and we talked for an hour. He said I could call back any time and I did about six times.

Really nice guy!

Best first game of the season

They're all great really - the joy of having football back, the lush green untouched pitch and the sense of anticipation for what lies ahead.

August 1983 against the Baggies was perfect - fantastic, hot, sunny day and it was a real ding-dong of a game, which we won 4-3.

**********

Rooney

Wayne Rooney's son Kai showed flipping marvellous taste on Pancake Day this week.

Man Utd and England skipper Rooney - from his Twitter account followed by 12.6m fans - tweeted a picture of two of his sons in chef mode for the big day.

And we were delighted to see his eldest son donning the famous claret and blue shirt for the snap.

No confirmation yet of Kai's allegiance but it appears that, just like his pancakes, he's clearly got good taste.

**********

Gregory

Snapshot picture

John Gregory and Phil Neal chat at the end of our April 1979 game against Liverpool.

Gregory and Neal were pals from their playing days at Northampton.

Villa had won this game on home soil 3-1, goals coming from Allan Evans, John Deehan and a Phil Thompson own-goal.

Same again this weekend?

**********

We all like to think we know our stuff about Villa.

But it isn't quite so easy when your knowledge is being put to the test by Mastermind host John Humphrys.

Just ask Rob Coley who to the famous black chair to answer questions on Villa in an episode of the BBC 2 show.

Rob's specialist subject was 'Aston Villa 1945 to the present day' - and the retired travel manager answered 10 out of 13 questions correctly.

It was a very good effort from the claret and blues supporter who went on to finish second after the general knowledge round.

**********

We are continuing to show Far Eastern promise - with new figures outlining our increasing popularity in China.

The latest Red Card report, which looks at European clubs with the biggest presence in China, placed us 14th in the table.

It signals a leap of four positions from last year and puts us above the likes of Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Everton and just behind Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Ajax.

The table looks at performance on various social media channels, such as Weibo and WeChat, online mentions and active digital presence.

Our official Weibo account has gained more than 350,000 followers since its launch just over two years ago.

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