A Remarkable Villa Fan

I have the pleasure of knowing John Flanner, a remarkable Villa fan. And a fan whose published story will appeal to all other Villa fans, I’m sure.

The official press release goes:

Peter McParland MBE, who scored the two goals in Villa’s memorable 2-1 triumph over Manchester United in the 1957 FA Cup Final, will be joining blind super-supporter John Flanner MBE to celebrate the launch of John’s compelling book about his memories of the game.

In the book, ‘Beautiful Game, Beautiful Memories,’ due to be launched on 4 May, John pays homage to the Club as he shares the magical moments of football heroes past and present, recounting legendary matches and dramatic events over the past 60 years.

Brian Little, legendary player and former Manager of Aston Villa, said: “John’s story is simply incredible…Most of us have been blessed with being able to watch football, rather than having to imagine in our mind’s eye what is happening on the pitch.  So for someone like John to follow Villa as passionately as he has done without being able to see is amazing.”

Peter McParland, who first met John in May 2015, commented: “John is a unique man who has overcome many difficulties as a young boy to become a fantastic supporter of Aston Villa and a fantastic person.  It’s marvellous he’s overcome the difficulties he has to become who he is today, and an outstanding supporter of the Club.”

Former Aston Villa Manager Ron Atkinson added: “John’s recollections of players and matches stirred up so many wonderful memories for myself.  This book is a fantastic read for all of those who genuinely love ‘the Beautiful Game’ and I thoroughly recommend it as an inspirational read.”

Recalling precious memories of ‘Going to the Villa’ with his Dad and son, John said, “I have so many truly great memories and one of the sweetest of all, after several years of heartache, was when the Villa boys turned in a performance that shocked the football world when they beat Liverpool in the 2015 FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium.  That memory will live with me forever because it was so unexpected and therefore all the more sweet.

“Being a football supporter is a strange thing because it takes you on an emotional roller-coaster ride.  It is very similar to a marriage and, in my case, the love of Aston Villa as a football club is clearly engrained in me. In my 60 years following the Club there have been countless highs and lows but, as with all true supporters, you stick with the Villa no matter what.” 

Copies of the book will be available on Amazon and Kindle from 4 May and you can find out more about John by visiting his website at: www.johnflanner.co.uk



Comments 41

  1. Thats loving your team JL, can’t even imagine being blind he must be some fella.

    heard a little something in the sauna from my blues mate tonight. his mate went to Blackburn on Saturday and said his mates son is on the sports/med side at Villa, only been there two months. Apparently the players either don’t go to the gym at all or are doing the wrong things. Bruce is going nuts asking why is they getting injured and now they are all on programmes. All I can say is why has it taken this long? RDM had a trainer from the off, and Italian bloke that train Juventus.

  2. Steve Bruce after the 1-0 loss at Norwich

    ” We’ve thrown that hand grenade in and I won’t accept it.

    “So they can either man up to it and say we’ve got to to do it his way or alternatively I’ll find a team eventually that will play my game.

    “Most people will tell you the way I’ve managed over the last 20 years.

    “I want a team that epitomises what I stand for. I cant stand looking at the first half because we didn’t do enough.

    “The sheer lack of quality to do the basics right was simply not good enough. You apologise because, listen, it’s up to.”


  3. JL,

    Thank you for posting this and lending some deserved publicity to such a remarkable supporter. I’ll be buying a copy when it goes on sale. And wouldn’t mind you getting some of yours back in print, as well!

  4. Mark,

    Don’t disagree with where the article eventually goes…But I want to emphasize that in my mind, it’s not the strikers. It’s the way we’re set up and playing. Succinctly: Not to their strengths.

    We do need a complement to Adomah on the left. I can see us getting an all-action man like Milner. But apart from that, there should be plenty of attacking talent on hand already.

    As you often say, under RDM, lots of chances, poor conversion rate. And that was without Lansbury, Hourihane, Hogan. We should be creating more, not less, and that’s just with the players on hand.

    I know you likely wouldn’t disagree with that. 😉

  5. And talking about a Milner type, I think that’s what Bruce is trying to do with Bacuna. In no way am I saying that it’s working, or that Bacuna = Milner. But, I think he’s a young, athletic, versatile player, and that’s what Bruce is trying to get out him.

    Sadly, Bancuna ≠ Milner.

  6. JC- I think green and Thor will fill the left hand birth when fit, for me its that playmaker/DM slot we have to fill. I think lansbury was supposed to be it, I would like to see Lyden given a shot he pulled the strings for the stiffs very well and scored goals.Other than that its about how we set up simple as.

    I see Lennon has been detained under the mental health act poor chap, hasn’t played since Feb

  7. Thanks MK for the Remi Garde article, and agree with you that it would certainly be a benefit to have him back at Villa Park.

    Amazing story JL, and will look out for the book, and place it on my reading list.

    The injury to Kodjia may act as the final straw to the Doc, and he may feel that the time has come to change things. I agree with an earlier comment, that if we are going to change manager, now is the time to do it, and not at Christmas, when the season is half over, and the top two places are already virtually decided.

    We need to be in the position that Villa are in the top spot from the beginning, and remain there.

  8. Cut price tickets for Sunday’s game available to season ticket holders for their friends and family,
    and free beer….what more could fans want………..

    Tickets are £10 off, and a max of 2 per season ticket..telephone sales only..

  9. pp
    what more could villa fans want, how long have you got

    as for kodja injury , why did we protest his red card surely 2 matches meant nothing we could have tried rhm and davies along with hogan playing with 2 wingers so many options for meanless matches but bruce rather play 1 goal a year gabby

  10. PP,

    I don’t see the idea of Bruce being replaced ever come to reality. After the detailed selection process – and given that Bruce (despite feelings expressed here) – has not ‘failed’ altogether, there will be ‘business as usual’.

    But I agree that the Doc’s patience won’t last for ever. If the signs are not good towards promotion by October I’d say action would be taken then.

  11. I don’t see the idea of Bruce being replaced ever come to reality – Please say it ain’t so John 🙂

    has not ‘failed’ altogether – LOVE IT, Bruce didn’t fail, he just didn’t achieve what he was employed to do, by suggesting he didn’t fail altogether I’m duty bound to ask you what were his successes this season. Please don’t mention the words Gabby and hero though 🙂

  12. DOR: “he just didn’t achieve what he was employed to do”

    Promotion was always targeted to take place within 2 years: 1 year was the ideal.

    So as we’re only 1 year into the 2-year time-frame, he *hasn’t* failed.

  13. JL,

    I will be surprised to see Bruce in charge after the beginning of June…

    He failed to do what he was originally brought in to do, and was also given the money and backing to do, and that was to achieve promotion. The two year thing was only mentioned when Tony Xia realised it might not happen. Have no doubt that Xia’s ambitions have not changed, and it is cheaper to pay the right man than keep spending money on players.

    It was also made clear that individuals could come and go, but would not affect the overall plan.

    I am sure that the commentaries from people like Gary Thompson, are fed back, and do not go unnoticed. I am sure that the board are also taking note. If the commentators and pundits can see the problems, why can’t Bruce.

  14. PP- I think he does see the problems its the answers that have evaded him beyond buying better players in lieu of creating them or a system to suit them. Does beg the question are these his players or Rounds? He did tell the old squad to buck up or new players would replace them, now the new players are as poor it seems.

  15. So his success is failing to get us promoted in one year because he always knew he had two years. Bruce is one clever sod, no wonder the football is dire, next season he’ll look spectacular because we’ll be playing so much better in our promotion year.

    And back to a point I’ve made many times before if it was always a two year plan then why not more patience with RDM (bar the suggested lack of interest, results wise we weren’t that far away especially when you consider it was the immediate after shock of relegation under RDM) or why not have given Garde a chance, he already knew the squad and what was needed to progress it so would have saved time assessing it and got on with rebuilding.

  16. JL- That makes no sense when RDM was sacked in 11 games, the team had no time to develop, I know you will say its about his personality but really? bring in the 4 times promoted Bruce who said it was entirely doable at the time? If we were not going for immediate promotion we would not have bought a thirty year old striker for £12m now would we? along with two others for similar sums, We tried to buy Hernadez for £15+m !! all this smacks of buying our way out IMO not planning.

  17. Agree MK,

    but if you continuously play players out of position, and in a different role to the one they are used to, you are going to struggle. The only player who has really fitted of Bruce’s intake, has been Taylor, who plays a much more defensive role than Amavi did.

  18. PP,

    I understand the points you make but (firstly) as I said, the promotion target is within 2 years (not one) and it is clear to my mind that since Round went to such trouble to identify Bruce as the guy needed, and that we’ve had too many managers in such a short space of time, Bruce *will* be here until at least October.

    However I cannot believe that Bruce will fail to et promotion. His c.v. shows he’s done it a lot, so why not at Villa?


    Steve Round wasn’t appointed until September (and had nothing to do with RdiM’s appt) and since Round has such an important job, and because he got plenty of backing to support Bruce, that’s partly why there’s now difference on the situation of Bruce vs. RdiM. Apart from which I thought that RdiM was short of something – which the Doc later called ‘character’.

  19. Mark: “all this smacks of buying our way out IMO not planning.”

    I think you and others are looking too much at hard football facts to support your arguments when I think (and I’ve often said it) that the situation at Villa has been much more to do with the lack of ambience at Villa after those years under the previous regime.

    I think Andy Gray said something about that a couple of weeks ago – that the club has still to be completely sorted within.

    In other words, if the club had been in a stable situation at the takeover last year, what has happened since would qualify for your arguments being spot on – or close to it. But I think we’re up to 12 months away from the club being fully sorted out.

  20. JL- I think your being to fluffy but I won’t hold it against you 😉

    two things, Round was never going say I went eeny meenie minie mo was he? Just because he said Bruce was the best candidate does not mean he was or that Round did not fib, what club would say we got the 4th best bloke we could muster?

    secondly were Both RDM and Bruce the best unemployed candidates around, coincidence with the huge loss hanging over us that Xia said he was not aware of? or just prudence.

  21. RL- Round was reported by Dr Xia to be helping in the background in the summer because he was employed by Man city at the time but had obviously been given the job when his contract finished as a consultant, so yes he was involved, whether he recommended RDM I don’t know, he was reported to be helping is all I know.

  22. Finally if Bruce was this well researched demi god of promotion and given two years why the rolling contract? to many little bits of smoke for me.

  23. Has Bruce got promoted with a team where the only goal is promotion, neither Hull nor Small Heath are top division stalwarts, maybe the pressure is less, maybe the expectation that football should be more than just grinding out results means there is no comparison with his previous promotion successes.

    Maybe we (me) are all wrong to expect anything other than 1 nil wins and parking the bus as the route to premier league nirvana.

    Such a quandry

  24. Mark,

    Concerning both your issues, Round himself stated that he pulled in a consultancy firm that came out with the data that Bruce was far and away the best person to appoint. Round says he didn’t influence their determinings, but that they mirrored his own judgment.

    As for being “fluffy” I am known to be a pussy-cat really, but in all seriousness there was a bad situation left by the previous regime, and one that would be very difficult to get cleared up within one season. And that involved attitudes and approach, as we well know.

    For some reason, a lot of our players (and particularly longer-term players like Bacuna, Hutton and even Baker) show tendencies to make unforced errors. Bacuna looks to me too casual at times. Now, is that Bruce’s fault – or the players? He seems to say it’s the players, and I tend to agree.

    Yes, Bruce picks ’em, but presumably in training they do what’s expected.

  25. Mark: “yes [Round] was involved, whether he recommended RDM I don’t know, he was reported to be helping is all I know.”

    Was he “involved”, or wasn’t he? The point is that he was not i.c. and had no job reponsibility until September.

  26. JL- still does not prevent him from influencing things employed or not or why be involved at all?

    As I posted earlier I have been told that the villa players have been doing no extra work in the gym after training or doing the wrong Exercises, they are now under a trainer as Bruce is apparently fed up with the injuries. This just says to me how far removed he is from the day to day goings on at Villa park. when he first came he worked with the players as soon as Calderhouse turned up he was off recruiting for Jan and things went pear shaped. That all points to a discipline problem that hasn’t been sorted or a lack of respect.

    I was told by a WBA fan that RDM rarely turned up either.

  27. john l
    i agree with you that the club was in worse shape than doc thought, but holding on and playing richards hutton bacuna and gaby has not helped one bit, gaby had 3/4 warnings from garde and black and even doc slated him on deadline day
    bruce had for me one chance to get us up and failed miserably , performances in december where shocking norwich leeds to mind and got worse much worse even with influx of brucies buys
    end of season run with outside chance of playoffs we blew it again under pressure we crumble, fulham on box was another horrer show ,fluke a win v blues 1 shot on target,next up blackburn bruce idea of trying something different 4 central midfielders 2 strikers,2 full backs without an assist between them all season for villa,
    i see brentford have agreed a deal for a left back under a million wages be low compare to our january buys taylor bree what is round looking at

  28. Dr. Tony Xia‏Verified account @Dr_TonyXia 23 Aug 2016
    Dr. Tony Xia Retweeted avillafan.com
    We have RDM, Steve, Kevin,Keith&2b announced TD&others working together! I do the easiest part:signing&tweeting!

  29. Mark: “still does not prevent him from influencing things employed or not or why be involved at all?”

    There is a difference in how the chairman will evaluate the situation. If Round didn’t have the responsibility then whatever ‘help’ he gave re: RdiM would have been just a professional view (added to those of others) that he didn’t have to take responsibilty for.

  30. James: “what is round looking at”

    Well, I don’t have much argument with the signings that have been made. The issue is more to do with how to make a team out of them, I thought! 😉

    Yes, as you’ve said, there has been a big job to get Villa back on stream again and there’s still a way to go. Hopefully this time next year we’ll be wondering what were we worried about…!

  31. JL- well equally it does not mean he voiced reservations does it? He Knows Wyness and was sounded out to come here before black so someone was recommending him even then, to be honest Nobody knows what the criteria was other than Championship promotion probably. If I was going to employ a TD I would definitely ask his opinion, thats his Job

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