My Favourite Villan: John Wragg on Peter Withe
I can't quite remember where it was or when, but I can remember going in goal to save a Peter Withe shot.
It was on a pre-season tour, anyway, probably Germany, and at that time I was playing squash regularly and trained for it.
I'd just done a stint in a corner of the training ground - the workout used to impress kit man Jim Paul anyway, I remember him saying, somewhat amazed, "You work hard Wraggy" - and was sweatily walking off.
Withey came over and we were chatting away. He said he'd finished training and was going to do some shooting practice, did I fancy being goalkeeper?
It's one of a football reporter's hidden secrets that he always fancied himself as a player.
I was a world class full-back or centre-half but could switch to keeper, not problem. So I stood there.
Withey didn't even crack the ball that hard and I saw it early, was right behind it, thought "I'll catch this over my head. Peter Shilton, what an easy life you've got."
I got both hands behind the ball all right, but all 10 fingers bent backwards at the impact and the ball doddled down and over the line.
Half-pace, and Withey's shot was so powerful, so explosive, that a mere mortal couldn't parry it, let alone hold it.
Withey smiled, a lot, and then Nigel Spink took over.
It makes you think, something like that.
It's a tremendous insight into the ultra professional world, like getting down roadside and seeing just how fast marathon runners go for 26 miles or being in the centre of the velodrome as the cyclists whizz around you.
It's something every reporter should do at some stage in his career, just get a taste, not matter how minute, of the world you are reporting on.
Peter Withe and Gary Shaw, Withe and Shaw, was one of the great scoring combinations in English football, both of them top players and men.
Shawsie still goes to Villa Park and we see him regularly, while Peter Withe is on the other side of the world, in Perth, Australia.
I was texting Withey just before Christmas.
With the time difference he was just getting up, no doubt on a sunny Oz morning, while I was driving home from a Birmingham City game on a cold, sleeting night.
Withey said if I did Skype we could have a chat when I got home.
Now I think Skype is an island off the Scottish coast I'm such a Luddite, but Withe does new technology like he used to do goals.
That banner on the North Stand that prints out the commentary of Withey's goal that won the European Cup for Villa tells you everything about his importance to the club.
But the best memory of him for me is in the training ground at Bodymoor Heath.
As you go up the stairs on the landing to the right is a big picture of Dennis Mortimer, the European Cup, Tony Barton and the boy Withe.
Withey has got his left arm up in victory. There's a Villa sweatband on his wrist. And he's smiling.
Peter Withe was always worth a smile, a laugh, and a goal.
Click here to buy season tickets for the new term as Villa embark on a vibrant new era.
Adobe Flash Plug-in Needed
This website requires a Adobe Flash plug-in. Please download the latest version of the Flash plug-in by clicking here