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Six Of The Best: Here are our top famous celebrity supporters

Petrov: Why anchor man Westwood deserves plenty of credit Monday media watch [19.05.14 AM]: Lambert in focus
Six Of The Best: Here are our top famous celebrity supporters

Next up in our Six Of The Best summer feature series - after watching Harry Potter, Broadchurch, Captain America and Game of Thrones star David Bradley pick up a Bafta - we take a look at our famous celebrity supporters.

Tom Hanks

Could Tom Hanks be in Texas to see our USA Tour games?

Good friend of Hanks - Bob Stephenson - has confirmed he will be there to see Villa take on Dallas and Houston Dynamo.

He couldn't confirm the attendance of the You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and Captain Phillips star.

But the omens look good, as the last time Hanks got to see his team in action was on the club's last tour of the States.

Hanks was in Portland to watch Villa take on Timbers and told AVTV: "This is my first ever Villa match. But it's not back at Villa Park! Rest assured, that dream will come true for me one day. This is the first step towards it.

"I will be at Villa Park with wings! I would love to go this coming season. I will be checking my schedule.

"My life will not be complete until I'm at Villa Park! I want to be rooting on the claret and blue to a magnificent win over those suckers like Stoke City or Wolverhampton Wanderers or Queen's Park Rangers!"

The support from Hanks goes back a long way, though.


He well and truly demonstrated his love of all things claret and blue when he strode on to the red carpet with a 'Proud History, Bright Future' scarf at the premiere of his film, Charlie Wilson's War.

The Hollywood A-lister also met up with Villa's Player, Liaison and Welfare Officer Lorna McClelland at the event.

Lorna chatted with the Green Mile and Philadelphia star in his own VIP lounge at Leicester Square's Empire Cinema.

The Forrest Gump star also appeared on BBC Radio 1 for a chat with Edith Bowman during the same week and was glowing in his support of the club.

His support was first revealed in 2001 when he admitted his allegiance on a Disney Channel interview.

He was subsequently sent a shirt with 'Hanks' on the back and a thank-you letter was sent back from the star supporter.

Early in the 2011-12 season, the California Lions supporters club received a hand-typed letter from the man himself, expressing his thanks for the membership card he had been sent - and, more importantly, his determination to attend a Villa game soon, a dream realised in Portland.


David Cameron

Prime Minister David Cameron is in the national newspapers every day - but not usually for supporting Villa.

But this occurred early in the 2011-12 season when he took his young son to watch Villa as they faced QPR at Loftus Road.

The expression of total delight on his face when Barry Bannan fired in his penalty demonstrated unequivocally his love of all things claret and blue.

He showed his support on the BBC's predictions show with Mark Lawrenson and Dan Walker even earlier that season.

When going through his score thoughts on each Barclays Premier League match, the topic came to Villa's tough tie with Chelsea.

Without flinching the PM simply said: "That's easy. 6-0 Villa. Next."

He even flew the flag for Villa during a live television debate a few years ago.

The politician had been taking part in a discussion when he was asked who he thought would win the Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea.

He said it was of little consequence to him because as far as he was concerned there was only one team - the Villa.

He was quoted: "The first game I ever went to was an Aston Villa game and so I am an Aston Villa fan. We have had a pretty good season ourselves.

"I don't really mind who wins the Champions League."

Cameron is the nephew of former Villa chairman Sir William Dugdale who took him to his first ever game as a 13-year-old.

More recently, the PM and the Duke of Cambridge were chatting furiously about Villa.

The news came from chief executive Paul Faulkner, who met up with the PM at an event in Coleshill soon after.

The conversation between the two naturally turned to Villa and Faulkner said Cameron was very interested in claret and blue life and the end-of-season run-in.

Cameron told Faulkner that he had just attended an event with the Duke of Cambridge, where - he added - the pair had discussed the Newcastle v Villa game that weekend.


Duke of Cambridge 

Paul Lambert's team were in the presence of royalty for the Barclays Premier League clash against Sunderland as His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge made his Villa Park bow.

Prince William, a staunch claret and blue follower, took his place in the Trinity Road Stand for the encounter with the Black Cats.

The Duke had been in Birmingham during the previous days to visit the new city library as well as University College Birmingham.

And he extended his stay in the Second City to make the trip to B6 to watch his beloved team.

It came after the Duke met striker Christian Benteke and former skipper Stiliyan Petrov at the Winter Whites Gala charity evening.

Although it was the Duke's first visit to Villa Park, he attended the club's FA Cup semi-final victory over Bolton at Wembley in 2000 and went to the dressing room after the game to congratulate John Gregory's side.

In 2001, his father Prince Charles was in B6 to open the refurbished Trinity Road Stand and received strict orders to return with some claret and blue socks for Prince William.

Chief executive Paul Faulkner told us that the Duke of Cambridge has a genuine love of Villa - and an extensive knowledge of the club and the team.

The pair spent time together at half-time against the Black Cats and Faulkner said the Duke's familiarity with the squad list, current form and our huge history was extensive.

Faulkner also revealed that his affection for former club captain Petrov was obvious as the pair chatted at half-time in Randy Lerner's executive box.


David Bradley

David Bradley has starred in some famous films - the Harry Potter series, Captain America and Hot Fuzz as well as TV classics like Broadchurch and Game of Thrones.

But he still loves nothing more than getting down to Villa Park to watch his beloved team in action.

Bradley hit the headlines this week after winning his first-ever Bafta.

Bradley was handed the Best Supporting Actor gong at the prestigious award ceremony on Sunday at London's Theatre Royal for his role in Broadchurch.

He beat off competition from Jerome Flynn - Ripper Street, Nico Mirallegro - The Village and Rory Kinnear - Southcliff.

Bradley was gracious as he accepted the treasured acting prize - his first in a long and fulsome career - saying that the hit TV series had "captured the imagination of so many people."

Of course, Broadchurch was the smash hit of the summer - and won Best Drama on the night too.

Set on the Dorset coast, it centred on the death of an 11-year-old boy - and the search for his murderer by detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman).

Away from his busy schedule of filming, Bradley loves B6 life.

Bradley, who played caretaker Argus Filch in every single movie in the blockbuster franchise of Harry Potter, said: "I love Villa Park. It's majestic. I love it especially during night matches. The grass is greener and the shirts look more claret.

"Everything is highlighted under the floodlights and it just feels like pure theatre.

"You never know the end either - so it's always a thriller!

"I am just always aware of the theatrical nature of this stadium - it has that history behind it and you always get that tingle when you come here.

"There's always that sense of anticipation."

His love of Villa goes back many years and he has been to Wembley for all the recent cup finals - even sporting a banner saying 'Stratford upon Avon Supporters Club' in 1996 for the win over Leeds.

He is also a close friend - and neighbour - of Dion Dublin.


Ian Bell

Ian Bell celebrated winning The Ashes with England in 2013 - with a claret and blue twist.

Player of the Series Bell - following three centuries - returned to the sanctity of the dressing room after the 3-0 win over Australia with Villa very clearly in his thoughts.

Bell quickly grabbed hold of his new Macron/Dafabet home shirt before sitting down for a photograph with the famous Urn.

Bell, of course, is Villa-mad, his support starting in the late 1980s when the likes of David Platt and Tony Daley graced B6.

He was joined for the fifth and final test by Warwickshire pal Chris Woakes, another staunch Villa supporter.

Both were snapped for another photograph with the Urn, with the claret and blue shirt taking pride of place on the peg behind.

And then, several days later, they paraded the Urn at Villa Park in a lap around the pitch.

Bell scored most runs [562], had the highest batting average [62.4], scored the most centuries [3] and most fours [75].

Bell picked up the Urn at the Oval, generally regarded as the spiritual home of English cricket.

But he spoke of his admiration for a different venue when interviewed before the series.

He said: "Villa Park is truly incredible. The atmosphere is always fantastic there when I manage to get to matches.

"It's a true football stadium, with loads of tradition but with state of the art facilities too."

Coming from a family of Coventry City supporters, Bell disagreed with tradition and opted to follow Villa instead.


Lee Child

Graham Taylor is a suspected kidnapper. McGrath and Milosevic are FBI agents in Chicago. Teale is a bent mayor. Yorke is an abandoned mining town in Montana.

You couldn't make it up, could you? Then again, maybe you could, particularly if you're a best-selling author.

The names of Villa players and managers appear frequently throughout the novels of Lee Child, whose thrillers have sold 40 million copies in 75 countries and have been translated into 38 languages.

He lives in New York and his stories about giant ex-military policeman Jack Reacher couldn't be more American.

But Child, real name Jim Grant, was born in Coventry, brought up in Handsworth Wood - and is a staunch Villan.

As an adopted New Yorker, Child mostly has to settle for catching Villa on TV these days, getting his live sporting fix from baseball at Yankee Stadium.

But his devotion to the claret and blue cause is as strong as ever.

Hence the frequent Villa references in his books.

"The hardest thing I find is coming up with names for characters, so in a sense it helps me out of that difficulty," he says.

"It started with Mayor Teale in my first book Killing Floor and went on from there."

The second book - Die Trying - featured Paul McGrath, Yorke and Milosevic, although many of Child's readers wrongly presume the latter is based on the Serbian war criminal Slobodan rather than the Villa striker Savo!

Since then we've had Withe, Shaw, Scimeca, Angel, Vassell, Carbone, Docherty, John Gregory, Graham Taylor and Mark Burke, who may have played only eight times for Villa but who impressed the author as an industrious midfielder.

Child has been hooked on Villa since the early 1960s, yet he might easily have supported Albion.

"Where I lived was almost equidistant between The Hawthorns and Villa Park. I was about eight or nine and I had a friend called David Harris. He and his dad were Baggies fans.

"There was a run of games where David's dad was working overtime on Saturday afternoons so I used his season ticket.

"On my third or fourth visit it was Albion v Villa and there was just something about Villa that captured my imagination. They were like a swaggering bunch of pirates!

"From that point Villa were the team for me and I went to Villa Park all the way through primary school and high school.

"In my early days I always stood on the Holte End, around two-thirds of the way down. Later I sat in the bottom section of the old Trinity Road Stand.

"I had a seat on the end of a row, which was great for standing up when they scored."

Child was back in B6 a few months ago when he toured the stadium on a return to England before chatting to AVTV.

Goalkeeper Jed Steer chose his book - One Shot - as his Reading Stars selection.

Check out all the details about new season tickets.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 19th May 2014