Happy New Year
We’ve always had a good following from China - and this summer's takeover of the club by Dr Tony Xia has seen even more join the claret and blue fanbase.
And, with that in mind, our players – including James Chester and Albert Adomah - were tasked this week with recording Happy New Year messages for our supporters in the Far East.
Chinese New Year - which this year falls on Saturday January 28 - is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius and Philippines.
Traditionally, families gather to share the blessings of the past year and attract good fortune in the coming one.
Chinese households set off fireworks on the eve of the New Year in order to drive away evil spirits.
Each year is associated with one of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac.
For 2017, it's the year of the rooster.
The twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac are the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig.
Exact origins of the Chinese zodiac are unknown, but common folklore has it that these are the twelve animals to reach heaven in a race.
Bish in the Book
One of our revered club journalists has been immortalised as a character in Lee Child’s new best-selling thriller.
Rob Bishop, who has worked on the matchday programme for over 15 years, had his name included as a character in Child’s new book ‘Night School’.
Bishop and Child (pictured below) have struck up a friendship since the New York-based Villa fan guest edited the Villa News & Record in 2016.
Bishop is described in the book as a "busy, bustling, sixty-something" with "a warm and friendly face"– which is very apt as it describes ‘Bish’ perfectly.
Child was in Birmingham just before Christmas for a signing session but unfortunately Rob – whose job title in the book is ‘CIA head of station at the Hamburg Consulate’ - couldn’t attend.
However, he was delighted when he found a special gift on his desk – sent by Child – with the note ‘To the real Rob Bishop!’
Well done to Keinan Davis, who was up for club TV duties this week.
It followed his first team debut against Tottenham.
The 18-year-old came on as a late sub for Mile Jedinak - a big moment in the Young Lion's blossoming career.
You can never underestimate how nerve-wracking talking in front of camera can be.
But the youngster, in one of his very first interviews with the club, did a sterling job.
He talked about claret and blue matters with presenter Emily Liles at Bodymoor Heath.
Here’s to many more, Keinan!
Bruce’s shopping list
Steve Bruce has set his standards very high for this January transfer window.
He was in fine spirits pre-Tottenham as he assessed the FA Cup clash at White Hart Lane.
Assembled journalists, however, were more interested in quizzing the boss about his targets this month.
Bruce, straight-faced, said: “We’re hoping that Delle Alli agrees to join us in the next 24 hours…and then Harry Kane is next on the shopping list for us.
“We’ll play against them this weekend and then see if they come back to us about Delle and Harry next week.”
After the game, which saw Villa put a valiant fight against their Premier League opposition, Bruce was once again quizzed about Alli, after being spotted having a quiet word with the midfielder before he was introduced in the third round clash as a substitute.
"I asked Dele Alli if he would come and play for us," a smiling Bruce reiterated after the match.
"He said 'someday Steve I'd love to' but I think £80m might be too much for us.”
Defender James Chester has this week had his say on his playing pals in the first edition of our new feature series ‘Inside the Dressing Room’.
The social media video sees Chester give his verdict on life at Bodymoor Heath in a variety of categories, including ‘Most Skilful’, ‘Best Dressed’ and ‘Best Trainer’.
Check it out below as he discusses Jedinak’s intelligence, Kodjia’s rascal tracksuits and his own top music taste.
Word on the Tweet
Great to see Jonathan Kodjia offering support for his team-mates despite being hard at work preparing for the African Cup of Nations, which starts on Saturday.
Kodjia took to Twitter on Friday to wish the lads luck in their FA Cup clash with Tottenham.
Nice on, Jon!
Robbie Keane was the derby day hero for Villa against Wolves in 2012 – not that you would have known!
Keane showed his class in scoring two in the 3-2 win over Wanderers at Molineux.
He again showing his class in not celebrating against his former club.
Keane, you see, played for our neighbours from 1995 to 1999 and developed a strong bond with supporters.
We’re sure Keane was buzzing on the inside – just as Gary Gardner and skipper Stilyan Petrov clearly were on the outside!