Villa Noise: Mega school support, PM visit and Benteke relief
Paul Brown on B6 matters.
7th Feb 2014
Villa Noise: Mega school support, PM visit and Benteke relief


Marketing Manager Dan Meredith enjoyed "my best day working for the club" this week as he visited Ampertaine Primary in Northern Ireland.

As already chronicled elsewhere on the official website, Villa have hundreds of new fans after the school elected to start supporting the club.

Staff at the County Londonderry school wanted to use the power of football to help educate the kids in a range of subjects.

So headmaster Garry McIlwaine organised a draw in assembly one morning to pick a team to get behind.

Villa were selected at random - and it was very apt as the school uniform is claret and blue!

Now children will improve their literacy, maths, ICT, PE and study a subject called 'World Around Us' courtesy of Villa facts and figures.

For example, 'World around Us' will see them learn about all the Lions Clubs around the planet and also the birthplace of our first-team stars.

Kids from the school wrote to club chiefs at Villa Park to wish them well for the rest of the season and show them their new-found knowledge of the club.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan took collection of the letters, read them thoroughly and then posed for a picture with them - a photo which will be used on the school's new 'Villa Noticeboard'.

This will be a super supporter area where children will show their ongoing allegiance to the team.

As well as that, year five/six teacher Jacqui Speers emails into the club on the eve of each game to wish the team the best of luck.

As a special surprise, Meredith - who has worked for the club for nine years - visited the school this week, alongside community coach Karl Fellows, Lions Club manager Alan Perrins and mascot Chip.

The kids were truly overwhelmed to see the quartet and thrilled with the goodie bags they received.

The children also got to watch video messages from players such as Christian Benteke, Brad Guzan and Ron Vlaar as well as manager Paul Lambert - and the school received a signed shirt with autographs from every member of the squad.

Meredith said: "It was an unforgettable experience, quite extraordinary really.

"We could feel the excitement when we arrived. There was a buzz about the place that Villa had sent staff to say hello to the kids.

"We went from classroom to classroom and they were learning all kinds of things related to Villa. They had walls decorated in claret and blue, with facts and figures, great player and great moments. It was terrific to see.

"The children were singing Villa songs in assembly, loved seeing Chip - our mascot - and responded so positively to the gifts we left them.

"It's days like that that make you proud to work for the club, in my case a club I love most sincerely."


Lottery

Eleven Villa-mad friends from Sutton have scored £1m after netting the winning numbers to scoop the EuroMillions jackpot.

The group of avid Villa supporters, who met at school and through mutual friends, only kicked off the syndicate four months ago.

But for The BTNP Syndicate - Bigger Than Normal Peeps - proved top of the table with leader Simon Ashcroft, Richard Cox, Joe Collins, Brad Taylor, Oli Hughes, Adam Holt, Adam Finn, Kris Corfield, Chris Hedderley and brothers Matt and Dan Hammonds each getting a £90,909 share following their Premier League performance in Friday's draw.

Engineer Simon only started the syndicate with his fellow fans in September and said they felt "ridiculously lucky" to have landed their big win.

The 22-year-old was travelling on the M6 on Saturday night when he received a text from The National Lottery saying one of their online syndicate tickets had won the jackpot.

"At first I thought nothing of it but when I went into the account and realised it was £1million it was just unbelievable," he said.

"Surreal, you don't believe it's true."

The guys have had plenty of media coverage this week to celebrate their huge win - and where better to host reporters than Villa Park?

The lads visited several locations around B6, including the home dugout, home dressing room and press conference room, for the photo-shoot for a host of media outlets.

Now that's what you call a great win!


Agbonlahor

Star striker Gabby Agbonlahor is a leader on the pitch - but when it comes to off-field matters he's happy to take a back seat.

Agbonlahor has, once again, agreed to help judge the designs of the front of the matchday programme for our 'Acorns Day' game, which will be announced soon.

As part of the Acorns Day match, children will be asked to submit entries to be considered as the cover for the Villa News & Record on that particular day.

Agbonlahor agreed to check out the entrieswhen asked by programme editor Rob Bishop at Bodymoor Heath.

With a cheeky grin, Agbonlahor answered: "I'll do what you tell me Rob. You're the boss!"


Ginola

David Ginola didn't hold back when he discussed his time at Villa in FourFourTwo magazine this month.

Asked how he summed up his time in claret and blue, he said: "I feel a bit of shame about it.

"John Gregory was a nightmare for me. I was with a manager who didn't understand me.

"I was there to play on a Saturday - not on a Wednesday against the reserves.

"On a Tuesday morning, rather than going running through the woods and getting injured, I needed a bath and a massage. That is the way it should be.

"After 10 years, I knew what was good for me. I would have liked him to understand who I was.

"He said I was too fat and then I pulled up my shirt to show I wasn't.

"The end for me was when I saw the back of The Sun with my head placed on the body of Jimmy Five Bellies after he said: "David Ginola is Mr Blobby."


WBA

There's no better feeling as an internal Villa journalist than landing a 15 minute interview with Christian Benteke.

However, there's no worse feeling than thinking you haven't taped it on your voice recorder.

There's no question Rob Bishop was in a blind panic in his car as he checked his new Blackberry phone's voice notes folder only to see the last entry as a five-second conversation between him and his passenger on the way to the training ground.

His mood lifted considerably when he realised he'd left the voice recorder going and once the stop button had been pressed, the interesting interview with the star striker was thankfully stored.

Look out for the feature with Benteke in Saturday's Villa News & Record.

It will be available around the ground for £3.

You can buy the matchday programme on eBay too. You will also be able to snap up the new iPad version, which will be available before the game.


Cameron

Villa fan Prime Minister David Cameron met up with claret and blue coaches on a visit to Birmingham this week.

Cameron and former England striker Gary Lineker joined forces to tackle childhood obesity in the region.

They received a tremendous welcome from children at St Brigid's Catholic Primary School in Northfield as they launched a commitment to keep sport and health at the top of the agenda.

The pair ignored the weather to cheer on a PE lesson - a football match in the playground - before presenting a trophy to the winning side.

Mr Cameron pledged to continue the £150 million a year PE funding for primary schools until 2020 - assuming he's voted in at the next general election.

Villa run their Premier League 'School Sport' programme at St Brigid's - and coaches Matt Cecil and Andrew Coley met the PM and discussed the claret and blue work done in the community.

The 'School Sport' programme is a new initiative to increase the quality of coaching available to primary school children within the curriculum.

The programme takes advantage of the existing high quality coaching provided by our community coaches in hundreds of schools across Birmingham and beyond.

The aim is to increase participation and ensure quality physical education is received by children.

Another one of the projects we run, of course, is Villa Vitality, which aims to tackle obesity.

Check out all the details about Villa in the Community.

Cameron


Hateley

Finally, I just wanted to express my sadness at the death of former striker Tony Hateley.

Hateley was a colossal player in claret and blue and his goalscoring ratio for the club was unbelievably impressive.

I took a bit of flak on social media this week for the time it took me to tweet a RIP message.

Apologies if you thought I was a bit slow.

But, rather than take to social media immediately, I wanted to write a fitting tribute to him on the official site and link to it via Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Thankfully, the piece received a very favourable response.

My dealings with Hateley were always good fun.

I once did an all-time Villa dream team with him and he was insistent on utilising 2-3-5.

Not only did he give his XI, he also took time out to explain how the formation worked, calling me a "young lad who probably wasn't used to it."

Top bloke!


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