ON THE DL
Meet a regular Dubai Lion every few weeks in this new series. This week – Vice-Chairman, Mark Maynard - AKA VOMM
Welcome to ON THE DL where we meet a new Dubai Lion each month. Through this series, you will get to know us better and for those thinking of joining us on a matchday, you can see that we’re (mainly) just normal folk with an abnormal love for all things ASTON VILLA. This week, we meet our Vice Chairman, Mark Maynard - otherwise known as VOMM (Very Old Man Maynard). He's only 52, in better 'nick' than most of us but he smokes like a chimney and fraternises with old blokes in dingy pubs. He is officially 50% Guinness.
Originally hailing from the Bluenose country of Yardley, Mark managed to find his way to the light side through his Uncle. He moved to Dubai in 2007 and can be found in many establishments with a bass guitar in hand, cigarette hanging from his lip and a Guinness on standby. He'll also be the one swearing in Greek and hiding in the toilets every time Villa are on the telly-box.
HOW DID YOU START FOLLOWING ASTON VILLA?
The long Villa journey started for me with my Uncle taking me to a game. I really can’t remember anything really specific for how the whole thing began (probably because I’m now approaching seven thousand, six hundred and ten years of age) – although I do recall the excitement of watching Chris Nicholl on TV, scoring a screamer from halfway to Lands End against Everton in the 1977 League Cup Final replay, replay, replay, replay, replay….
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST VILLA GAME - HOME OR AWAY?
My aforementioned uncle (Rudy) took me and 'our kid' to Villa Park for the first time against Leeds. We stood bottom-left side of the Holte (a little corner part of the terrace) where a lot of adults with kids used to go, away from the Forresters of this world in the main Holte stand. A very boring game - I can’t remember any goals - so I’m guessing it was November ’79 (yes, I had to google it). I do remember how ‘cathedral-like’ the experience was, standing low in the Holte, looking at this massive stadium and the crowd...and the smell of the grass!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ASTON VILLA MEMORY?
Tough one, I’ve been lucky enough to witness a few great ones over the years: Big Ron’s first game at Sheffield Wednesday right after he left them for us; Inter Milan stuffed at VP in ’90 - two goals to nil (a team that had Berti, Brehme, Matthaus, Klinsmann in it); Rose & Crown Upper Tier for Play Off final 2019; The League Cup final in ’94 vs Manure. All great but, I think number one is actually the League Cup Semi-Final in the same year. 3-1 down at Tranmere in the 1st leg, the second game at Villa Park was the most exhausted I’ve ever felt when I left the ground, probably a full three hours after going in. The atmosphere, rollercoaster game, extra time, penalty misses, Bosnich’s saves, and ultimate victory left us all totally knackered. I literally dribbled (not walked) down those Holte End steps after the match!
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE EVER VILLA PLAYER?
Another toughie – I’m lucky that I’ve watched some super Villa players: Sid Cowans, Platt, Dalian Atkinson when he was really on his game but, I was really, really lucky to have been watching Villa week in-week out when the Lord God Almighty in Heaven and on Earth Himself was playing... Mr. Paul McGrath.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE EVER VILLA MANAGER?
Big Ron. Exciting, charismatic and the best football I’ve ever seen Villa play was under him.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE VILLA KIT?
I like a lot of them of course and the recent LUKE shirts were great, especially the Home kit. Hard to ignore the classic Home 1980 shirt though and perhaps oddly, the ’91 Third kit.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO/CONNECTS YOU WITH DUBAI?
The ex-missus. She decided in 2007 that she fancied a job with Emirates. I followed her over, she dumped me and I haven’t looked back since.
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER DUBAI LIONS?
Like a good many of our members, I was stalked, preyed upon, sniffed out and hunted down like a pack of slavering Lions encircling a wounded Zebra by our inimitable Chairman, Mark Forrester, in 2014.
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE WITH DUBAI LIONS?
Well, I was another member who simply watched the games and consumed large quantities of intoxicating liquor.. until I woke up one day and found that a number of DL (with the Chairman as a catalyst of course) had conspired to make me Vice Chairman. unbeknownst to myself. Now, I chip in with a wide variety of DL efforts: events, merchandise, media posts, collections, venue management etc. – and also the consumption of large quantities of intoxicating liquor.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AND LEAST FAVOURITE DUBAI LIONS MOMENTS?
The least favourite moment would most likely be what became a seminal moment in Dubai Lions history: we arrived at our original meet-up venue, The Centre Circle pub, approximately three hours after a Rangers - Celtic match where the Rangers fans also watched their games. They had (of course) had their pants pulled down 5-1 but unfortunately for us, this did not deter them from continuing on a course of wild, drunken, sectarian delirium that would have made Pol Pot raise his eyebrows. We cowered in the corner of the pub and decided to move our home for good! My favourite has to be the Play-Off Final 2019 – pure drama and unbridled joy with 200 other Lions from Dubai and abroad. Brilliant.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE DUBAI LION?
Some bloody fantastic members but he’s already named me, so I’ll have to say him - The Chairman. He got me into all this malarkey and if I don’t say he’s my favourite, then I’m fired.
WHICH DUBAI LION IS THE BIGGEST LIABILITY?
There has been some consternation among a few members regards the phrase ‘biggest liability.' However, it is naturally a bit of friendly banter. I’ll have to name MYSELF as the biggest liability. When it comes to Jagermeister, I still can’t say no, even if the game is midnight, midweek! I wake up four hours later thinking "oh b****cks, I’ve done it again!"
AND FINALLY…HAVE YOU EVER SUPPORTED A TEAM OTHER THAN ASTON VILLA?
Absolutely not. My Uncle took me to a West Brom game after he took me to the Villa. Let’s thank the Lord in heaven for that too!
Thanks, VOMM - now we know whom to blame for our Jagermeister addiction.