Villa Noise: Tennis ace Benteke, Connect 4 Gabby and Ron Air
Paul Brown takes a quirky look at life in B6.
3rd Apr 2013

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Villa's young guns have had to get used to the limelight after becoming champions of Europe this week.

The NextGen Series finals weekend in Lake Como, Italy - which culminated in Villa lifting the trophy - was broadcast live in 18 different languages on Eurosport.

As well as having to perform in front of a European-wide TV audience, there were also plenty of requests for media interviews following the magnificent triumph by the Young Lions.

Defender Janoi Donacien had a particularly tough time keeping it together during an AVTV interview on the eve of the final.

He became known as 'three-take Janoi' after he had to contend with some unusual distractions during his moment in front of the cameras.

Firstly, the 19-year-old was knocked out of his stride by some bizarre background noises from his close pal Graham Burke.

Then Donacien struggled to hold back the giggles following a shout of "Any danger, Janoi?" from coach Sean Verity.

Thankfully, he kept his composure and spoke eloquently during attempt number three.

Donacien got his own back on Burke after Monday's final when he leapt into the shot during a post-match interview, almost forcing Villa's two-goal hero to end up on his backside!

As well as doing a fine job of nurturing Villa's future stars, youth team coach Tony McAndrew is known for his razor-sharp wit.

On the eve of Friday night's NextGen semi-final against Sporting Lisbon, he bluntly quipped to club journalist Dan Harrison - who was with the team throughout the finals weekend - "if we lose tomorrow night, you're the jinx."

So, upon congratulating McAndrew on Villa's European triumph after Monday's final against Chelsea, Dan jokingly reminded him about his comment.

"The jinx?" the coach replied. "You're in the team next week!"


Archie Hall was the cover star of the Villa News & Record special edition for Acorns Day - and it was certainly a day to remember for the 10-year-old from Cheshire.

Archie, who produced the winning design for the QPR programme, attended the match with his mum and dad, his 12-year-old brother Henry and his five-year-old sister Chloe.

He was presented with a replica shirt signed by Gabby Agbonlahor - who chose the winning entry - and then watched from the lower tier of the North Stand as Gabby opened the scoring in Villa's vital 3-2 victory.


There was McGrath and Milosevic, Sorensen and Shaw, Taylor and Teale.

Now we can look forward to a different kind of Villan in the next Jack Reacher thriller.

Best-selling author Lee Child frequently uses the names of Villa players or managers as the characters in his stories.

But it will be a Villa supporter who takes pride of place next time around. Pete Espin was the winner of our Literary Villans competition, in which we asked for fans to submit literary references to the club.

And Pete's unique prize is that he will be one of the characters in the 18th Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back, which will be published in September.

The 62-year-old from Lichfield doesn't know whether he will feature as a hero or a villain.

Not that he is worried either way.

"I'm a big Lee Child fan so winning this competition is absolutely fantastic," said Pete. "It's amazing to think my name will be in one of his books."

Gabby Agbonlahor has the pace of gazelle - but, remarkably, 'Strike It' magazine has him as only the eighth quickest player in the Barclays Premier League.

Under the title 'Speed Demons', Agbonlahor comes in ahead of Gael Clichy and Antonio Valencia but behind Nedum Onuoha, Sergio Aguero, Nathan Dyer and Eden Hazard.

No.3 is Gareth Bale, No.2 is Aaron Lennon and No.1 is Theo Walcott.

The magazine gives Agbonlahor a 'speed score' of 7.75 - top speed 9, acceleration 8, dribble speed 7 and agility 7.

No.1 Walcott got 10 in all categories.

They said: "Agbonlahor's game is all about speed. We've lost count of the amount of times he burns past full-backs."


Press Association reporter John Curtis is a man of undoubted writing ability.

But his ability to dress appropriately has been called into question by manager Paul Lambert.

Curtis covers the claret and blues for the national sports agency as well as the England national team.

Attending the press conference for the Liverpool match after a long flight back from Montenegro where he saw Roy Hodgson's men draw 1-1 in World Cup qualifying, Curtis was ripped to shreds by Lambert for his choice of knitwear.

Lambert said: "That jumper is woeful. It is hideous. Did you get it in Montenegro? You must have got five for a pound!"


A big welcome this week to Nick Mashiter, who is the new Villa correspondent for the Express & Star.

Previous incumbent Tim Abraham has left the paper to move to the North West to work for Wardle Agency.

The established company provide copy for a lot of the national newspapers.

New guy Nick was previously Express & Star's Walsall reporter.

Good luck to Nick in his new role. He's pictured with established Birmingham Mail reporter Mat Kendrick, who he will work closely with going-forward.

Paul Lambert spoke this week of his confidence that Christian Benteke will stay at Villa next season.

Pushed further by Daily Telegraph reporter John Percy about whether Lambert would consider giving Benteke a new contract with a rise in wages, the boss said: "I might give him a fiver more! And being Scottish that is generous!"

AVTV were handed exclusive access to first-team training earlier this week as the players worked out in the Indoor Barn.

They enjoyed a spot of 'football tennis' in the early part of the session - with the lads attempting to emerge victorious over a small net.

Christian Benteke was up against Matt Lowton and found an interesting way of settling the contest - blasting the ball at Lowton.

Cue large cheers before the big man smiled and offered the right-back kind words of sympathy.

Talking about Christian Benteke, there's a new craze sweeping matchday.

Whether at home in B6 or on the road, press pundits are "Doing The Benteke" on gameday.

It involves mimicking the goal celebration of our powerful forward.

Check out Free Radio commentator Pat Heard, stadium announcer Russ Morris and our very own AVTV host Jack Woodward getting involved.





Club ambassador Ian Taylor has been a busy bee this past week, getting here, there and everywhere.

Taylor popped over to Sweden on Saturday to pick up our Facebook 'One in a Million' winner Markus Pölkkö to bring him over to the UK and Villa Park for the Villa v Liverpool game on Easter Sunday.

And, after dropping Markus off at his city centre hotel on the eve of the game, he made his way to London to star in an episode of popular Sky Sports show 'Goals on Sunday', also featuring Chris Kamara, Ben Shepherd, Steve Howey and Michael Gray.

Incidentally Pölkkö had a famous time on his visit, loving every minute of the matchday experience.

Cameraman Bobby Bridgeman had less of a good time, however, picking up food poisoning on the journey.



Gabby Agbonlahor and Paul Lambert were in effervescent form when they met up with kids from Acorns this week.

Agbonlahor paid a visit to Acorns in Worcester and got challenged to a game of Connect 4.

The star striker was confident pre-match but was soundly beaten in the competitive clash.

He said afterwards: "I haven't played it for a bit. He had good moves. I will make sure I practice for my next visit."

Lambert greeted kids from the children's hospice when they visited Bodymoor Heath later in the week.

They were taken into the chairman's office, closely followed by the boss.

He walked in, smiled and said: "You only come in here for two reasons - to be hired and to be fired. That's why I want to get out."

#AVFCFilmFriday this week focused on the films of Nicolas Cage.

Check out the best entries below.

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