Villa Noise: Mandela memories, library lights and angelic Guzan
19th Dec 2013
But the man who left the most lasting impression on him was undoubtedly Nelson Mandela.
"I have lots of photos taken with people I have met," he tells us.
"But the one in the most prestigious position in my conservatory is the one with Nelson Mandela. He was such a great man."
As world leaders joined thousands of people at a memorial service for the former South African president, Villa's president emeritus recalled the time he met Mandela at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.
In May 1994, Villa played three matches in South Africa, winding up the tour with a goalless draw against Moroka Swallows in front of a 45,000 crowd which included Nelson Mandela.
"I introduced him to our players before the kick-off and then he sat with me for the game," recalls Sir Doug.
"I thanked him for naming the international stadium after me. It took him a few seconds to click - and then he howled with laughter!"
Former Villa secretary Steve Stride also has fond memories of meeting arguably the most influential leader in world history.
"I couldn't have been more nervous if I had been meeting the Queen," he wrote in his book Stride inside the Villa.
"But Nelson was a smashing bloke. He shook my hand and said: 'It's an honour to meet you, sir.'"
On the subject of Sir Doug Ellis, he's the star guest on this week's pre-match show on AVTV.
Reporter Jack Woodward chats to our former chairman - now president emeritus - about a wide array of topics including Paul Lambert, Randy Lerner, selling the club in 2006 and, of course, meeting Mandela.
Sir Doug may be 89 - soon to be the big 90 - but he's still as sharp as ever.
Look out for the preview programme on AVTV this Friday.
Subscribe to our online television channel now.
Stiliyan Petrov's column was a regular feature in the programme before he was forced into retirement with acute leukaemia.
So it was perfectly fitting that our former captain should receive a trophy on behalf of the club after the Villa News & Record was voted programme of the month by the Northern Programme Club.
Stiliyan was presented with the award by Neil Patterson, editor of the NPC's Independent View magazine, before the Sunderland match.
"It was an honour to meet Stiliyan," said Neil, who told is the NCP judges were impressed by the amount of new features in the programme.
"In terms of content, design and value for money, the News & Record has been brought back into the limelight with some stunning features," he said.
"The Villa Vault has all the attributes of a feature that will pick up an award. It's worth the £3 cover price itself."
Find out who's the EA SPORTS king of the console in the next few weeks.
Christian Benteke pitted his wits against Gary Gardner, Nathan Baker and Gabby Agbonlahor in the player FIFA 14 tournament at Bodymoor Heath this past week.
But who won?
Benteke faced Agbonlahor in semi-final number one while Gardner was up against Baker in semi-final number two, before the showpiece final.
Check out AVTV just after Christmas for the much-anticipated result.
Ron Atkinson is naturally known for his enormous personality - his larger than life demeanour - and that came very much into the foreground when he was interviewed by AVTV.
Speaking to the club's in-house television channel from a huge suite at Walsall FC, Ron quipped: "This reminds me of my old office at Villa Park!"
Host Jack Woodward laughed and said: "You never lose it do you Ron?"
He smiled and replied: "You might be right!"
On the subject of former boss Atkinson, here's a picture we found of him from our vast picture archives.
No wonder they call him Big Ron!!
There was a surprise in store for hardened claret and blue fans when the Plymouth Argyle team coach rolled up at Villa Park to bring the players to their Youth Cup clash in B6.
Driving the bus was none other than former goalkeeper Geoff Crudgington, who played for Villa between 1969 and 1972.
He's been football in the community officer, goalkeeping coach and chief scout at the Pilgrims before veering in another career direction.
Great to see him back!
You can watch highlights of the win now on AVTV.
Villa's presence in China has been compared very favourably to that of Real Madrid!
Social media agency Mailman revealed that we had started both a Sina Weibo [Facebook/Twitter] and Youku [Youtube] account in the Far East - within four days of the Spanish giants.
And they praised our efforts in engaging with supporters.
They wrote: "Aston Villa are the first team outside the Premier League's 'big five' to take on the Chinese market, a brave move, and one that has positioned them ahead of their rivals.
"Going purely by numbers, they are short of Real Madrid.
"However, what they lack in sheer size, they've shown that great content, interaction, and localization is just as, if not more of a factor in winning over Chinese sports fans."
Our Chinese social media is run by Rongtian He, who has been a huge fan of Villa for over 10 years, since falling in love with the club from Guang Dong.
He - now a valuable and popular member of the club's in-house marketing and communications team - graduated from Loughborough University this weekend.
His family [above] came over to the Midlands for his ceremony and couldn't resist seeing Villa for the very first time!
Great to see them here!
Midfielder Ian Taylor may think Brad Guzan is a top keeper - but this is ridiculous!
Taylor was in festive mood this week as - for the second year running - the former midfielder visited claret and blue fans at random from our supporter database.
To say they were shocked would be an understatement as the hero enjoyed spending time with the claret and blue faithful in their own homes.
On closer inspection of the Christmas tree of one fan, he discovered the image of goalkeeper Guzan as an angel!
Never one to shirk the Twitter banter, Stiliyan Petrov joked: "How did they fit Guzan's big head on the top of the tree?"
Plenty of interesting discussion this week after the Library of Birmingham elected to light up their magnificent building claret and blue.
Fans of Villa persuasion have really delighted in the new colour scheme on the Centenary Square structure.
Checking out fan site Heroes & Villains, there were some brilliant comments.
Jimbo said: "The Library of Birmingham has suddenly become the most beautiful building in the city centre."
Rob_Bridge added: "A fine building made to look resplendent."
Couldn't agree more!
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