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Villa Noise: Laursen v Benteke/Lambert music quiz
A look at quirky stories this week.
14th Dec 2012
Villa Noise: Laursen v Benteke/Lambert music quiz


You'd expect Paul Lambert to start arguing in his pre-match press conference if a reporter stepped out of line with his questioning - but not over the guy's mobile phone ringtone.

Okay, so arguing is probably too strong a word but there was a certain amount of discussion over the artist who had enveloped the television room at Bodymoor Heath with 'Oh L'Amour.'

Lambert started smiling as the song echoed in the ears of the waiting journalists.

He said: "Who's got Dollar as their ringtone?"

The reporter replied: "That's me. But it's not Dollar. It's Erasure."

Lambert continued: "Are you sure it's not Dollar?"

The reporter insisted: "No it's definitely Erasure."

As Rob Dorsett of Sky Sports said: "Don't say that. Their version is even worse!"


Benteke

Never mind Lambert's Lions. They really should be called Lambert's Lion Cubs.

Since his appointment this summer, manager Paul Lambert has put the emphasis firmly on youth as he strives to build a successful Villa squad for the future.

There was some debate as to where the starting line-up for the 1-0 home victory over Reading ranked in the all-time list.

After plenty of research, we were delighted to find out it was actually the YOUNGEST in the club's 124-year history.

No fewer than eight of the players who started the match at Villa Park were under 24 - a statistic Villa have never previously achieved.

Three of the winning team were only 21 and one of them, Christian Benteke, headed the 80th minute goal which secured three vital points.

Even allowing for the three older heads - Brett Holman, Brad Guzan and Gabby Agbonlahor - the average age of the team was just 23 and nine months, which reduced to 23 and eight months, after the three substitutions.

That's even younger than the team known famously as Mercer's Minors in the 1960s.

Half-a-century ago, manager Joe introduced a number of youngsters who were considerably younger than any of Villa's current first-team squad.

Alan Baker and Norman Ashe were both only 16 when they made their debuts while John Sleeuwenhoek was 17.

But the average age of the team throughout that era was higher because of the inclusion at various stages of mature players such as Jimmy Dugdale, Peter McParland, Jimmy MacEwan, Vic Crowe, Gordon Lee and Nigel Sims.

Now, as then, supporters have got right behind the emphasis on youth.


It's that time of year again where you start thinking about what to put on top of the Christmas Tree.

Well, John Goodman had no such worries as he decorated his festive greenery with an Angel...Juan Pablo Angel that is.

As you can see from the photo, it's the best-looking tree in his street, no doubt!

When he tweeted the picture to JPA, he didn't expect a reply.

But Angel, ever the fan favourite, tweeted back: "This is great. Nice one mate!"

Goodman


JV-Life party

Gary Gardner doesn't want to let down Paul Lambert or Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer!

Gardner is currently making his way back to fitness and will hope to add options to the midfield core in the second half of the season.

But before that, he was tasked with a very special assignment at the JV-Life Christmas Party.

Gardner had to retrieve the reindeer's famous red nose in the stage-show at the Tamworth SnowDome in front of hundreds of adoring junior fans.

And he managed it brilliantly!

But he admits it was a nerve-wracking experience.

He said: "It was scarier than walking out on the pitch! It was a brilliant day and I'm really impressed that the club put this kind of thing on for the kids."


Stephenson

Good pals Ian Taylor and Bob Stephenson were truly impressed at Villa's victory over Norwich - even if they watched the game from very different locations.

Taylor witnessed the action live in person from Carrow Road while Stephenson checked out the game on Fox Soccer in California.

The pair of course became pals on the hot and humid USA Tour when 1996 League Cup winner Taylor met Hollywood ace Stephenson, star of Seven and Fight Club, at the Portland Timbers v Villa game.

It was far from warm at Carrow Road and Taylor had words of admiration for the travelling army of Villa fans who made the journey when he tweeted: "Absolutely buzzing!! Great win!!

"Fans were amazing! And some of you were topless! Top class!!"

Stephenson was equally ecstatic back in Los Angeles, adding: "Wahoo!! Way to go men!!"


Ron Vlaar is letting himself go...on Twitter.

Vlaar is known for his calm and collected demeanour in press interviews but he's showing his hyperactive side as he follows Villa with live comms on AVTV.

Not one for getting too animated generally, he's giving it large with his own take on the action when he tweets his matchday thoughts.

After Brett Holman's goal at QPR, he commented: "Jaaaaaaaaa!!!! Holman!!!!!!!!!! Yes."

And he got even more animated after the Norwich win: "Baaammmmm!!!!! Villaaaaa 1-4!!!!!!!!! Proud of the lads.... Semi-finals!!! Come on!!! #UTV #CapitalOneCup #AVFCLIVE"

He even joined the growing masses in using our official #AVFCLIVE hashtag. Thanks skipper!

Vlaar

 

Vlaar


Saunders

Never mind the Magical Mystery Tour of Liverpool, my colleague Rob Bishop was treated to a similar excursion around Knowle and Solihull on Wednesday.

Returning from the previous night's Capital One Cup-tie at Norwich, the club's programme editor was alerted to the fact that the M6 was closed at junction three because a chemical tanker had caught fire.

The travel bulletin on the radio advised leaving the motorway at junction two and Bish admits he didn't have a clue where to go from there.

Luckily, Ken McNaught was in the passenger seat and the former Villa centre-back was only too happy to act as a navigator for the remainder of the journey back to Villa Park.

Using his local knowledge, he outlined a route along roads Bish had never previously encountered.

And along the way Ken pointed out some significant Villa landmarks - the former homes of Ron Saunders and Peter Withe, plus Kenny Swain's new residence.

Finally, as they drove along Bristol Road, Ken pointed to the Koh-I-Noor Indian restaurant, explaining: "That's where we used to go after our European games."

So now we know how Villa's 1982 European Cup heroes celebrated their triumphs on the road to Rotterdam - they went for a curry.


Martin Laursen would have backed himself in any battle on the pitch - but he doesn't know who would have won if he'd come up against Christian Benteke.

Laursen was formidable in the air and on the floor and almost always got the better of his opposing forward.

But he admits the challenge of Benteke would have been an immense one.

He said: "I think Laursen v Benteke would have been a good clash! I'm not sure if I could have won that battle?

"Unfortunately, no-one will ever know. The fans will never see it.

"But he's a great player. He's perfect for the Premier League in the way he plays. He will be a massive success for Aston Villa."

Much like you then, Martin!


Martin Laursen is a class man - and today proved it once again.

I always text Martin to ask him if he'd be willing to chat on the phone for his blog.

I text him about once a month and he always gets back to me in double-quick time.

He tells me what he wants to say and I write it for him.

After a great interview this afternoon, he said: "I've been meaning to say this Paul. You don't need to keep texting me. Just ring me and I'm sure I'll be fine to chat. If I'm not I'll just tell you.

"Ring me whenever you like. It's a pleasure to chat to you and I really enjoy blogging for the site because it gives me a chance to discuss things for the fans."

Gobsmacked, I thanked him. Then he wished me Merry Christmas. That's the measure of the man.


This week's #VillaFilmFriday involved the films of Hugh Grant.

There were some top attempts from the claret and blue masses on Twitter.

Our continued thanks for getting involved.

The best are below:

Grant


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