Villa Noise: Laughing Brad, Lambert's Rugrats and Ginola's regret
7th Dec 2012
It's fair to say our club photographer is doing the job he loves, following in the footsteps of his father who also worked in the industry.
He admitted to me on a pre-season tour once: "Covering football and getting paid? It doesn't get much better!"
But he does get a fair bit of flak from the first-team squad whenever he's called out on assignment at Bodymoor Heath.
He's a well-known figure at the player base and on first-name terms with all the squad, including manager Paul Lambert.
And that familiarly leaves him open to plenty of banter from the senior stars.
This week, for example, his indecision on who should stand next to who in a charity photoshoot involving Gabby Agbonlahor, Brad Guzan and Stephen Ireland drew the ire of the waiting players.
Gabby chipped in: "Come on Nev. How long have you been doing this job? You're doing our heads in here Nev."
And when Nev kept them for several shots for what appeared a seemingly simple picture, Gabby added: "Go on Nev. Take some more. We've got nothing else to do."
Brad Guzan is another who got it both barrels this week at Bodymoor - for his media skills and fashion sense.
First up, Villa's giant USA ace was disrupted in his exclusive interview with AVTV - by manager Paul Lambert.
Seeing Guzan being quizzed, the boss saddled up next to Jack Woodward to assess the goalkeeper's skill at facing the camera.
When the shot-stopper started to giggle, Lambert said straight-faced: "You've bottled it Big Brad."
Then the gaffer asked Woodward what the interview was about, with the host telling him it was about what the essential qualities Guzan needed to play well.
Lambert simply strolled off but not before turning and saying: "He needs to put his gloves on."
As if that wasn't enough banter for Guzan, he was subjected to more critical anaylsis when he arrived at the Harvey Nichols pop-up shop later that afternoon.
When he walked in to the complex, situated on the entrance to the training ground, Barry Bannan was being interviewed by Woodward about how important fashion is to footballers away from the pitch.
On seeing Guzan, Bannan said: "Here's Guze. He could buy everything in here and he still wouldn't look fashionable!"
Andi Weimann also got a fair bit of stick - after tripping up on the front step of the shop!
Check out the video footage in the player above. You can also look out below to see photos of the exclusive event.
Generally-speaking players have to be coaxed and coerced to stop and chat with me at the training ground - because they know it will be for a prolonged period and it will be for an interview.
Footballers like playing football. They generally aren't as eager to talk about it.
So it was nice to have Marc Albrighton come up to me at Bodymoor Heath of his own volition to thank me for the feature I'd written about him in the matchday programme for the game against Arsenal.
He was predominantly happy because the angle I had taken for the story was how much he enjoyed family life with his new baby girl Matilda-Beau.
He'd even bought several copes of that particular Villa News & Record for family and friends.
I'm surprised programme editor Rob Bishop hasn't commissioned a new series of articles called 'Marc and Matilda' to drive more revenue!
It was great to catch a word with stand-in skipper Gabby Agbonlahor for an exclusive website interview this week - even if he did take a lot of persuading to do it.
In fact, I had planned to speak to Brad and Gabby on that day, with hope in my heart that they wouldn't come past me at the same time.
As luck would have it, they appeared to speak to me within seconds of each other, Brad filing through to reception first.
When Gabby came flying in, I politely asked him if he could wait a few minutes until after the Brad interview.
He starred at me before piping up: "Paul. Come on. I've got the armband. I'm the skipper. I should be first!"
Eventually after a bit of light-hearted banter, Gabby sat down for a very interesting piece about his excitement about the claret and blue future under Paul Lambert.
Keen cyclist Ken Lambert had extra motivation to add Villa Park to his bike-riding adventures.
The 69-year-old from Leek Wootton in Warwickshire uses a blog to document his travels, with photographs of his bike in different places of interest.
Warwick Castle and the River Leam in Leamington were among the destinations featuring in his early blog entries.
Although Ken normally cycles in 25-mile journeys, he has started using the rail network to extend his list of potential hotspots.
The lifelong Villa supporter - who jokingly refers to his namesake Paul Lambert as "Our Kid" - revealed he was given a flash of inspiration while sat in the Holte End for our 1-0 victory over Reading.
"At the Reading game I took a picture of the pitch during half-time and posted it on Facebook," he explained. "An old work colleague of mine made a comment about Villa's struggle to score during the first-half, suggesting it was a wonder that 'some idiot hadn't propped his bike up against the goalpost'.
"Thankfully Christian Benteke silenced him in the second-half.
"This gave me the idea to actually try and silence my rugby-playing critic once and for all!"
A week on from the Royals triumph, Ken caught a train to Moor Street Station with his bike and cycled down to B6 en route back to Leek Wootton.
The aim of photographing his bike in front of the Holte End was achieved.
This time, though, he definitely can't take the blame for putting the brakes on Villa's attacks!
Good to see "Flat Brad" getting out and about in his homeland since appearing on the previous edition of Villa Noise.
Chris Makos, a member of Facebook group 'Aston Villa America' has come up with a fun idea for claret and blue supporters across the pond.
"Flat Brad" is basically a printout of the image that Chris Herd posted on Twitter - showing Guzan's clothes, gloves and print-out face on the floor of the first team dressing room.
We'll let Chris take up the story.
He said: "I am gonna try and start something here for the US Villa fans. Ever hear of "Flat Stanley"? Well...if you haven't, the basic premise for folks is to take this flat character around with you, photograph where it has been....then share it.
"Very recently, a photo of a "Flat Brad Guzan" was posted on Twitter by Chris Herd.
"As a US Villa fan, it would be fun to show support for Brad (as a US guy) and do the same with the photo I posted on our Facebook page.
"I want US fans to print the photo out, take it with you and snap some photos to show where "Flat Brad" has been! Who knows...it may end up being a good luck charm."
Below are photos of him playing shotgun in Chris Makos's GMC 4500 and going to work with Simon Leach.
After seeing Manchester United leak three goals against Reading last weekend, Sir Alex Ferguson was so concerned about his side's defending he went as far as using a cartoon analogy.
"Saturday was like Cartoon Cavalcade," was Fergie's description, in reference to Glen Michael's Cartoon Cavalcade - a show which ran for 26 years from 1966.
The United manager's comparison prompted the Daily Mail to ask the question: 'If your club was a cartoon, what would it be?' In fact, the article suggestion the Red Devils were more like 'Wacky Races' because of their ability to always find a way back into the race.
The Mail played on Paul Lambert's 'young and hungry' approach to rebuilding Villa by comparing us to the 'Rugrats'.
"A young team still learning the ropes when it comes to playing with the big boys," was the reason given.
We're not sure whether to take the Mail's comparison as a compliment, so in true cartoon fashion we'll just sign off by saying: "That's all folks!"
Things got a little bit "saucy" before Paul Lambert's pre-Stoke press conference on Friday morning.
BBC WM's Mark Regan found himself caught up in the traditional press conference day scramble around the bacon sandwich cart - just as the Villa boss arrived for his briefing with local radio reporters.
Concerned that he might miss the start of the briefing, Mark made a swift dash towards the radio room.
The gaffer looked on in amusement as WM's sports editor hurried through the doors clutching a bottle of HP Sauce!
That wasn't the end of it, though.
As the tape recorders started rolling, a deadpan Mark created further amusement with his first question to Lambert. "Well Paul, first of all may I just ask you your reaction to the fact that you've robbed me of a bacon sandwich this morning?"
A smiling Lambert responded: "I'd be better being interviewed by the bacon sandwich!"
David Ginola has apologised to Villa fans - ten years after leaving the club.
Flamboyant Ginola says it still grates on him that claret and blue supporters didn't see the best of him.
He said: "It was difficult. When you're in your early or mid 30s, you're not the same player as you were when you were in your 20s. Then you're a young man.
"I wanted the manager to understand that. I didn't want to run on a Tuesday morning at 33 the way I did when I was 20. You need, at that age, to rest more during the week so you can do your best on a Saturday.
"When I played for Villa I wasn't able to give my best. It was a frustration for me at the time.
"I would now like to say sorry to the fans because I wanted to give so much more than I did. I gave them something - but not enough!"
Ginola is hopeful that Villa can flourish now under Paul Lambert.
He added: "Aston Villa is a big club, a huge club in the Midlands. The manager is doing a good job."
This week's #VillaFilmFriday has concentrated on the films and characters of Disney.
There's been plenty of interest and some hilariously brilliant offerings.
One of Villa's key signings during the summer transfer window is really flying high - and performing a crucial role for the club.
Gee is pitch perfect - and we don't mean his singing voice.
Gee might not be able to kick a football but our new feathered friend is adept at keeping the Villa Park pitch in top condition ahead of the Stoke game.
Grounds Manager Jonathan Calderwood hasn't encountered any issues with hungry birds pecking at the pitch over the past ten years.
But over the past few months, magpies have been swooping at Villa Park.
Previously Jonathan used large ornamental owls to keep invaders at bay but now a real bird - Gee the harris hawk - is proving to be far more effective.
He was on hand on Friday to keep his eye on any intruders!
It's never nice to hear of the death of one of our many loyal fans - but Harry Matthews would have been pleased with the claret and blue flavour to his funeral.
Henry was a lifelong fan and we'd like to thank him for his unerring support these many years.
Funerals are generally sombre affairs but relative Karen Bird made sure it had a distinctive claret and blue feel with nifty nails featuring our glorious colours.
We're sure Harry would have been pleased!
Editor Rob Bishop got a shock when he checked his Twitter followers this week.
Andi Weimann had joined his growing band of fans.
Bishop generally uses the social media site to give supporters a flavour of what's going to appear in the upcoming Villa News & Record.
So it was somewhat ironic that this weekend's main player feature is, yes you guessed it, Andi Weimann.
Here the pair are pictured holding up the front cover, with Andi clearly looking on admiringly at his new tweeting pal.
Snap up your tickets and back the boys against Stoke.
paul brown, blogs, avfc,
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