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My Villa Dream Team: Lee Child claret and blue XI

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My Villa Dream Team: Lee Child claret and blue XI

Lee Child, author of the multi-million selling Jack Reacher series, was the guest editor of the matchday programme for our recent clash against Leicester City.

Child, real name Jim Grant, is a staunch Villan and has used the names of many claret and blue players and managers in his popular thrillers.

Here, he picks his Villa dream team.

We've had some great players over the years.

Like Charlie Athersmith, part of the 1896-97 double-winners, who played on the right wing - under an open umbrella if it was raining.

And Pongo Waring, who in 1930-31 scored 49 league goals in a 42-match season.

As a whole we scored 128 goals that year - three per game.

Not bad. But I'm limiting myself to players I actually saw for myself.

In goal, NIGEL SPINK had strengths and weaknesses and ups and downs, but in the long run was as good as any keeper Villa ever had.

And who can forget the European Cup Final in 1982 - he trotted on after eight minutes as a complete unknown, and 82 ice-cold minutes later he was an enduring legend.

Not sure why, because there are bigger names, but my right-back is CHRIS PRICE.

Every game I saw him play was tight, efficient, no fuss, no muss, and I saw him score a great goal, too.

And he had a great song - "Chris Price, Chris Price, he's got no hair but we don't care, Chrissie, Chrissie Price."


Tough choices for centre-back, but let's have ALLAN EVANS.

Great positioning - a real ball magnet - smooth, unhurried, and reliable.

And hard when he needed to be.And he scored some great goals from corners.

PAUL McGRATH would be his partner.

An obvious choice.

Slow and crocked most of the time, but still out of this world.I never saw such supernatural anticipation.

Time after time I would think, why is he going there?

And then the ball would arrive.

Sometimes it was McGrath against the opposition for minutes at a time.

A genuine superstar.

In the left full-back role is CHARLIE AITKEN.

Charlie made 660 appearances over 17 seasons.

To me he was a fixture, like the old A-V floodlights - part of the scenery.

He had immaculate timing in the tackle and would have been perfect in today's yellow-card situations

.An all-time great - and one of the few historic players who would have looked good today.

DENNIS MORTIMER Morty, sitting deep in midfield.

Fantastic gliding runs, accurate passing, great vision - the backbone of our greatest side ever.

Also a calm, inspirational captain, and a very nice guy by all accounts. 


GORDON COWANS in my opinion is the greatest player we ever had.

Sublime passing - he never kicked a ball, but stroked it, caressed it, launched it.

He had imagination to spare, and a will to win you could feel at the top of the Holte.

Seeing him play was one of the great pleasures of my life. 

DAVID PLATT was a great talent, and an even harder worker.

For long periods he was our key man - and England's.

Countless head-up, chest-out runs from midfield, resulting in countless vital goals.

One of the few players you always felt was more likely to score than miss.


I'd also pick TONY MORLEY wide on the left.

Always exciting, always likely to make something happen - and when he was in the zone he was amazing.

Just watch the DVD of the 1981-82 European campaign - it was his cup, really, and not just for that vital cross along the six-yard line in the final.

Never have good defenders been more embarrassed. 


PETER WITHE would be up front.

Has to be Peter Withe.

He gave 110 per cent all the time and chased every lost cause.

I saw him score great goals, scruffy goals, lucky goals and accidental goals.

I also loved how he loved the fans - no-one treated us better.

Last but certainly not least BOBBY THOMSON would play as a forward.

A purely sentimental choice.

Bobby Thomson scored a hat-trick in the first game I ever saw at Villa Park - 21st April 1962, 8-3 against Leicester City.

He was big and bustling - not sure how he would make out today, but he was my hero when I was seven.

There's still time to secure your copy of the Leicester programme through our eBay account - BUY NOW.

By @AVFCOfficial 20th January 2016
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