Ahead of tomorrow's eagerly anticipated clash with Aston Villa in which we are rolling back the years, I got the chance to speak to a Yorkshire Villain Dave, who's part of the Yorkshire Lions supporters group.
How long have you been a Villa fan?
I’ve been a Villa fan for as long as I can remember. I grew up 18 miles away from Villa Park and my parents weren’t really into football. I had my first Villa football kit bought for me as a 6 year old. I chose Villa (or was I chosen by Villa?) as I “liked their colours” when Central Goals Extra (similar to Calendar News) used to be on TV with the goals from Saturday’s games. Simple things. From then on, every year after that, my birthday present was always a Villa kit!
The first game I went to was against Athletic Bilbao in the then named UEFA Cup. I was 14 years old. The stand out thing that I remember from the game is when my mum and dad sent me off on the train to Birmingham and they gave me £20 to buy a Villa scarf. When I got into Birmingham, I found a scarf seller and I bought the best scarf I could find. When I boarded the train from New Street to Witton Park, it was rammed with Bilbao fans. When we got off the train, a Bilbao fan asked to swap scarves. As a 14yo, I was too afraid to say no. The Bilbao scarf was home knitted, smelt stale and had holes in. That scarf stayed pinned on my bedroom wall until I moved out as a 19yo.
Who is your favourite player this season and in your history?
Favourite player this season is a hard one, the squad is so refreshing from what we've had in previous seasons. If I had to pick one, it'd probably be Albert Adomah. He was a bit of a 'meh' signing at the time but his direct approach and infectious smile and laugh is making him a real fan favourite for me. Shout out to Kodjia, Grealish & Amavi too!
As for my favourite player ever? Easy. Ian Taylor. Scored a goal, box to box midfielder, and he always appreciated every minute playing out his childhood dream. Awesome player and so underrated.
It'll be a quick journey for you on Saturday, planning for a pint beforehand?
It sure will be! I live near Kippax so it will be a quick trip into town and having a few beers before the game with the rest of the Yorkshire Lions. We have 150ish full Yorkshire Lions members in the region and about 40 are off to the game.
I've a lot of Leeds fans who are good mates so I'll be meeting up with them after the game. I've lived in Leeds for approaching 15 years now so I have a respect and liking for Leeds. However, when I meet back up in town after with my Leeds mates, I hope I'm the one gloating!
Any memorable moments against Leeds?
My favourite game I've ever been to was the FA Cup 5th Round game against Leeds in 2000.
The game ebbed and flowed with Leeds taking the lead twice. However a Carbone hattrick including an outrageous 35 yard goal against one of the best goal keepers ever in Nigel Martyn and an unbelievable performance from Merson remains my all time favourite game ever as Villa won 3-2.
What's your opinion on former Leeds striker Ross McCormack?
So far, and it's still early days, but he's been the biggest let down of all of our signings. He's obviously a good player but he is overweight and doesn't seem up-to-speed. For a professional footballer, that's shocking. I hope he comes good but the problem is I don't see him fitting into our system. Shame really.
You’re on a blistering run under Steve Bruce, do you think he's made a difference?
I don't admit this very often but...I was wrong about him. I didn't think Bruce was right for us but the atmosphere around the club has transformed since he walked into Villa Park.
We're playing good football at the moment and we are starting to play with a self belief and arrogance that I haven't seen in a Villa team for a long time. Leeds will be a tough test for us but you couldn't be playing us at a worse vtime from your perspective. The same is true though for us as Leeds are bang in form too!
Do you think you'll make the playoffs?
I'd be astounded if we didn't to be honest given the squad we have which now has confidence added into the mix. This squad is the best we've had in probably 3 or 4 years. It's just ironic that we had to get relegated to get rid of the poison from within Villa Park. We've spent approx. £60m in the summer and we'll probably spend again in January too.
I haven't given up hope of a run at automatic promotion but then I am probably being both blinkered and biased!
Your first season in the Championship, what is your opinion of England's second tier?
It's rekindled my passion for football and I've loved every minute. Has there ever been a worse Premier League than this season? Bournemouth, Burnley, Hull, West Brom, Swansea, Palace, Watford, Leicester! Absolutely naff clubs. The Premiership will be so much better when the likes of Villa, Newcastle, Leeds & Sheff Wednesday are all back where clubs of their standing in English football deserve to be!
Who would you like to see join your club in January?
A top notch central midfielder and a right back. As for names, Lewis Cook maybe ;)
Who will be your main threat on Saturday?
Our attacking quartet of Kodjia, Ayew, Adomah and Grealish are as good as anything in the league. They are dynamic and will cause every team problems. Kodjia has just received the player of the month award too for November.
Prediction and scorers?
We'll score but we concede goals too, even under Steve Bruce. I expect an entertaining end to end game. Villa 3-1.
We'd like to thank Dave for answering our questions and I hope that he's ready for a battle at Elland Road (I also hope his Leeds friends have a commiserations pint ready for him at FT).
If you're a Villa fan in gods own country, make sure to check out the Yorkshire Lions on twitter @yorkshireAVFC or go on the link below to see their facebook and speak to Dave or the Chairman Andy.