Villa Noise: Hulkamania, NRC's middle men and Cowans booked
Paul Brown looks at the quirky tales from Villa Park.
9th Feb 2013
Villa Noise: Hulkamania, NRC's middle men and Cowans booked


Good to chat with Nigel Reo-Coker this week in the run-up to the game between his two former clubs, Villa and West Ham.

His enthusiasm for Villa came across very strongly as did his love for the fans who chanted his name every week.

The giggle he gave out on the phone when I mentioned the 'Nigel Reo-Coker' song - Do Do Do, Nigel Reo-Coker - shows how much that support meant to him, particularly when you consider the difficulty he had connecting with the Hammers fans in the latter months of his time at Upton Park.

Nigel was also very positive about the midfielders he shared the central ground with during a four-year spell in claret and blue, including two who still play for Villa now - Fabian Delph and Barry Bannan.

Check out his thoughts below.

Gareth Barry: He was a top player to play with. He's an England international. I don't need to say anymore than that!

Steve Sidwell: Siddy is a good friend. We come from the same area in London. He's a great player - very industrious, very hard-working, tenacious. He will definitively get you a goal too.

Stan Petrov: He's a top player and a top guy. He's a class international player - so talented, such ability and all-around nice guy. He's a good guy to talk to also. He would give you good advice whenever you asked him for it. He's a great family man too. He's just a diamond in a dozen.

Fabian Delph: He is so talented and has just an abundance of ability. The world is his oyster. He has so much ability that people don't realise. I just hope he can stay injury-free and have a good run in the team. I hope he continues to mature too and get better and better. Off the pitch he's a fantastic, well-grounded lad. On the pitch I just love his tenacity. He has that old-school mentality about him. Football has changed so much now. It's hard to see players now and say they have that old-school mentality and be able to stand next to them and think they have that ability to be a man - take a tackle, give a tackle and handle situations. He is one of them.

Barry Bannan: He has an abundance of ability too. He used to be my boot-boy! He was so respectful. He is now. He has so much talent. He reminds me of Paul Scholes. I hope he continues to develop.

Check out the full interview with Nigel.


If it was nice to talk to Nigel Reo-Coker, it was equally pleasing to listen to Stan Collymore.

Collymore was the chosen 'Cult Hero' this month and Rob Bishop - a good friend of the former striker - reeled off the questions on his Villa Park office phone.

After being told he was on speakerphone with half a dozen marketing staff working away in the room, Stan shouted: "Hello everyone!" He received a warm greeting back.

When the interview started for real, it was full of very engaging comment.

His thoughts on Christian Benteke, John Gregory, Twitter, Basic Instinct 2, depression, journalism and management were very interesting.

But the question and answer which had Rob holding his breath was: "Is it true that you once burned a £50 note in front of someone in a nightclub?"

Our programme supremo was a bit uncertain how Stan might react to such a forthright teaser.

Thankfully, he laughed before telling Rob that it was a concocted story - an urban myth - which came out of his hometown of Cannock in the 1990s when he was at the height of his fame.

His comment: "Actually I'm the tightest man you'll meet" showed Stan's funny side!

Why not check out all his answers - part one and part two.


Ron Vlaar

Now if that communication went well for Rob Bishop, it's fair to say another later in the week didn't go according to plan.

Rob texted Ron Vlaar in order to do his captain feature for the programme against West Ham on Sunday.

Meticulous Rob texted Ron - a willing and engaging columnist - late afternoon on Wednesday enquiring whether he could ring him later that evening.

The text message back: "I wouldn't have thought so Rob. I'm playing for Holland" was priceless.

Needless to say, Rob eventually spoke to Ron - as he was getting a train from Rotterdam to Amsterdam - and the column was completed with plenty of time to spare.

But don't worry Rob. If you need reassuring of the fickle nature of sporting schedules, I can top you.

I once left a voice message on the mobile phone of Ian Bell telling him who it was, what time it was before informing him: "I'll try you again in a few minutes."

I then looked up to see him on the television at the crease in the third test against Australia in the Ashes.

Thankfully he stayed in a while and I spoke to him several HOURS later!


Hogan

It's fair to say I've been a Hulkamaniac since my early years.

I remember Hulk Hogan's epic bodyslam of Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III, his defeat of Macho Man Randy Savage at Wrestlemania V and his victories in two successive Royal Rumbles in 1989 and 1990 with great joy.

I also recall his loss to the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI - the Ultimate Challenge - with a little tear in my eye.

So, imagine my delight when I found out the Immortal One was giving his weekend predictions alongside Mark Lawrenson on BBC Sport.

That delight soon turned to horror when I heard his thoughts on Villa v West Ham: "This will be just as boring as the rest of their games. It will be zip-zip."

I have one thing to say to that.

Wotcha gonna do when Paul Lambert's claret and blue army run wild on youuuuuuu!


Sunday marks the beginning of the New Year in China and other countries influenced by its culture.

It is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar, comparable to a combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

And Villa players, management and fans took time out to wish our fans in China a Happy New Year - or Kung Hei Fat Choi as it is pronounced in the Far East.

The likes of Matt Lowton, Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker, Fabian Delph, Barry Bannan and Shay Given joined in the respectful greeting.

Traditionally, families gather to share the blessings of the past year and attract good fortune in the coming one.

Chinese households set off fireworks on the eve of the New Year in order to drive away evil spirits.

Each year is associated with one of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac. For 2013, it's the Year of the Snake.


Child

Renowned author Lee Child will be making a visit to Villa Park in the next few months to meet his idol Gordon Cowans.

Child's thrillers have sold 40 million 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.

His all-time hero is European Cup ace Cowans and the two are set to meet when Child attends an upcoming night-match.

The names of Villa players appear frequently throughout the novels of Child but he has told us that Cowans will never be featured in any of his books.

Why? The answer lies in the matchday programme for the game against West Ham on Sunday. Get along and pick up a copy!


Talking of West Ham, the pre-match show is an interesting one this week.

Always on the lookout for special guests and special locations to add a splash of colour to proceedings, AVTV producer Lucy Finney picked out head of security John Handley as an interesting subject.

Handley is in charge of the vast matchday operation of keeping everyone safe within the confines of Villa Park.

JH - as he is affectionately known - was an engaging guest, giving us real insights into his role and that of his staff as the game nears kick-off.

AVTV visit his office, the control room and the "cells" - detention areas for troublemakers.

Handley always takes his job very seriously and elected to lock Jack Woodward up at the end of the show, while the host was doing the closing credits.

He obviously took exception to some of the questions Jack was asking!

Hopefully Jack will be back on commentary duties on Sunday?


Valentines

They say the closest thing to being locked up is being in a relationship.

But these two lovely couples would disagree firmly with that suggestion.

It's Valentine's Day on Thursday and I'm sure Nick and Lucy as well as Hannah and Luke will be planning something very romantic for the evening.

But they won't be the only ones.

There have been plenty of good games here down the years and several love-matches too.

You can read all about the romantic side of working in B6 early next week.

If you're of claret and blue persuasion and want to surprise your loved one, why not enjoy the evening entertainment here at Villa with two brilliant packages.

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