Recent Snow Patrol support A Plastic Rose are set to embark on a UK tour of their own in July (scroll down for dates) to be followed by their first full-length album in September, so Football Burp caught up with guitarist/singer Gerry Norman for a bit of a natter about twin footballing loves of Aston Villa and Republic of Ireland…
How did you come to be a Villa supporter?
As a youngster I was told to be a Manchester United or Liverpool fan but Steve Staunton was one of my favourite players at the time and he was playing for Villa.
Ray Houghton too.
And Paul McGrath!
Blimey, of course.
I went to see Ireland at Landsdowne Road and Steve Staunton waved to me from the team bus, and that was it. Since then I’ve been a Villa fan through thick and thin.
Do you follow the Irish national team, then?
Yeah. Obviously we’re not too happy after the Euros…
What did you think of Roy Keane having a go at the fans?
Well, I hate Roy Keane with a passion. Not as much as my dad, though – my dad would actually pull his own hair out if you asked him that question! I’m a Roy Keane hater after the Saipan incident. Say what you want about the background staff or the players, but don’t have a dig at the Irish supporters. We knew we weren’t going to win and he wanted us to stop having a good time, which is what we’re good at, making everyone else enjoy the party, not just ourselves. I think he was a disgrace to himself and our country.
Are you happy with the appointment of Paul Lambert as manager?
Absolutely. It’s brilliant what he did at Norwich – they were going nowhere a few years ago, favourites to be relegated I do believe, and he took them to the Premiership and made them a team to be reckoned with. I think it’s a shame when the bigger clubs take players and managers from smaller clubs, but after the season Villa just had I don’t really mind! I’d love to get into Randy Lerner’s head for a day and see what he’s thinking, but this is definitely the first positive thing he’s done in quite a while.
Would you like to see Lambert bring any Norwich City players with him?
Well, it looks like we’re getting that guy from Feyernoord [Karim El Ahmadi] who scored a lot of goals last year, but I’m not sure Randy Lerner will be able to give Lambert that much money. Getting Darren Bent fit and healthy for the start of the season would be a big boost for us – we all know what he can do and we haven’t had him for a long time. I think that the squad we have should be good enough to get us into the top ten without spending ridiculous amounts of money that we don’t really have anyway. Obviously Alex McLeish got nothing out of the players but I do believe that Lambert, with the squad we have, should do okay. Maybe we could get a couple of last-minute bargains like Harry Redknapp did at Spurs.
Stephen Ireland seemed to be rediscovering a modicum of form at one point last season. Do you like what you’ve seen of him?
He’s another Irishman playing for Villa, which should be good, but he turned his back on Ireland as well, and for kind of a ridiculous reason. Saying that I was happy when he joined Villa because a few years ago at Manchester City I thought he was one of the best players in the Premiership – he has an almost Brazilian-like touch of the ball sometimes, it’s fantastic – but he didn’t really start off well at Villa. He did start coming around later in the season though, so if he starts this season well then you never know. He’s a big Celtic fan so maybe Lambert can get the best out of him.
Have you managed to get to Villa Park much over the years?
I’ve been four or five times. We were actually on tour in Birmingham when Lambert was appointed manager, but we could only drive past the stadium rather than actually get in! I used to go every year as a kid between the ages of 11 and 15. The most memorable time was when Ian Wright scored a hattrick against us. Apparently one of our songs is going to get played at Villa Park so when we find out what game that is then I’ll have to go!
If you had to preside over a fantasy five-a-side match between Aston Villa and Republic of Ireland, both teams comprised of players you’ve seen in your time as a fan, who would you pick on each side?
You know what, this could be funny – I’ll have Shay Given in goal for both teams, and Stephen Ireland in midfield for both teams! I’ll pick Sean St Ledger for Ireland for scoring our goal at the Euros. I’ve always been a massive Robbie Keane fan – I’ve got a signed football from his days at Wolves, who I used to watch as well. I’ll give Damien Duff a run-out too. Richard Dunne could be substitute for both teams! Darren Bent and Gabby Agbonlahor up front for Villa, and I’ll give young Fabian Delph a run-out because he hasn’t got to play much and I’d like to see what he could do in a five-a-side match.
Gerry Norman, thank you.
Fri 13 UK, Leeds, The Cockpit, Middle Room Kasiuss
Sat 14 UK, Southampton, Joiners, Club Night N/A
Sun 15 UK, Bristol, Thekla Upstairs
Mon 16 UK, Nottingham, Rescue Rooms Red Room Great British Weather
Tue 17 UK, Manchester, Dry Bar The Hyena Kill
Thu 19 UK, Stoke, Sugarmill Gravities
Fri 20 UK, London, Barfly, Jubilee Club Night