I was thinking of ‘Blogging Marcel Berlins’ explanation of why he supports Aston Villa Football Club before Norm tagged me about it. It contains possibly the ultimate middle-class football fan anecdote. 10 years old and fresh off the boat from France in South Africa, the lawyer-to-be chose to support Aston Villa because:

“I knew what a villa was. Friends of my parents had a small one near Marseille.”

My own story has at least one similarity. I was, like Berlins, confused by the exotic words in the names of the football teams that the other infants school boys supported. I assumed that “West Bromwich Albion” was, for example, some remote South American nation.

The name “Aston Villa” appealed to me because I had seen a picture in, I think, a Richard Scarry book. I vaguely remember there being a double page spread in it depicting lots of anthropomorphed dogs and cats wandering around an ancient Roman villa dressed in togas and imagined that perhaps this was the kind of environment in which Aston Villa played their games. Supposedly, the actual “Villa” wasn’t in South America, but, according to the other boys, really close by. Also, given the dress code, it was probably quite warm; Britain was bloody freezing. I’d never seen a real villa, but that big space in the middle of Scarry’s seemed like an excellent place to kick a ball around so I signed up.