Blog: Gary Gardner...you have not been evicted
25th Jan 2012
Instead of Big Brother or I'm a Celebrity, this one appears to be something titled Football Fanatics.
The premise is diehard supporters living out their dream of being a professional for the day at their favourite club.
But instead of the Diary Room, there's the AVTV Studio.
Gary, all set for his reflective conversation with the in-house television channel after making his opening start for the first team at Wolves, receives the big question - the one that makes you open up a bit and show your emotions in full view of the cameras.
Gary doesn't disappoint.
"So do you have enough in the tank to play against Marseille in the NextGen Series this next week?"
His answer isn't that of your normal football star. It more befits a guy who absolutely lives and breathes the claret and blue dream.
He looks straight at us and proudly proclaims: "Listen, I'd play any football match for this club - a youth team game, a reserve game, a first team game - anything!
"Whatever the staff asked me to do, I will do it. Without their help along the way, I wouldn't be here today, having made my first team start against Wolves. I owe so much to them.
"It's a massive tournament - the NextGen Series - and we want to progress.
"But I want to play all the time for this great football club, at whatever level. I don't think I'll ever say 'no' to a game of football for Villa! I'll never do that.
"The club has done wonders for me and I hope to repay them as much as I can."
No wonder Gardner is progressing swiftly through the ranks. And no wonder he's so popular with the supporters.
He's playing with a smile on his face, working hard, listening to advice and having the time of his life, playing the beautiful game for his beautiful club.
Fans adore him because they know all about his affection for the claret and blues and because he's living out their very fantasies and communicating his amazement at that fact.
But it's not just this that sets him apart from the rest.
Gardner is a real talent. He is good on the ball, strong in the tackle and a natural leader. He certainly appears to be the latest in a long line of academy graduates to come through the ranks to first team stardom.
Gardner appears to have been given the nod ahead of tonight's quarter-final encounter with Marseille, incidentally, manager Alex McLeish allowing him to play despite his all-action exploits at the weekend.
Villa's run to the final stages of the competition has been superb and Gardner's form has been exemplary, the highlight undoubtedly his hat-trick against Ajax.
Don't miss out on the chance to check out Gardner in the flesh.
There's something intimate about Villa Park for evening games and you'll be able to get a great view of the young midfield maestro from close-quarters.
Such is the camaraderie in camp that several other lads who have made their way through the youth ranks over the past few years will be there to watch themselves, most notably Marc Albrighton.
Albrighton admits he's "really excited" about tonight's tussle with continental opposition and he knows there's plenty of top talent on show.
He said: "Gary is the standout player in the ranks, no doubt, but there are some other fantastic players too - the likes of Daniel Johnson, Samir Carruthers.
"These are great players and I think we can get a result. I'll be going down to watch. It should be a good match and hopefully we can get through to the next round.
"It feels strange not being able to play myself! But I'll be going along to support the boys. They need all the backing they can get.
"All the boys who have come through the ranks will be going down to support the lads. Hopefully they can power through.
"I want to support the boys, as will plenty of others. I am excited by it. It should be a good contest. They are two very good sides."
It's amazing to think that the likes of Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan and Chris Herd should all be there to cheer on the next generation.
Forget about Celebrity Big Brother - Cocozza, Thomas, Welch, the Playboy Twins - the antics of Gardner and co is real compulsive viewing! So get along!
Season ticket holders can claim a free ticket, while entry for non-season ticket holders is £3 for adults and £1 for U16s - click here.
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