This article was submitted by Casey Moore. He had an internship with Aston Villa and got the chance to go behind the scenes of our football club. Here is his experience and why we, fans should be excited about our clubs future.
Being a kid growing up through the 90’s in the South-Eastern part of the United States you didn’t get to dream of being a superstar footballer. Hell, didn’t even know what a superstar footballer was until 1994 and the US World Cup. So for you to tell me that I would be living in England working, for free, at football clubs in England twenty years later? I most likely would have just given you a quizzical look and a chuckle and went back to playing Contra on my Nintendo. I moved to Sheffield, England in August of 2012 and did a week work experience at Villa the following July.
To tell you how this all came about we have to go back to June when I first met Paul Faulkner, the Chief Executive of the club. This is when I was shooting my documentary, “Get Up, Stand Up: Standing Supporters Past, Present and Future”, and I had lined up an interview with Mr. Faulkner during the 2012 Supporters Summit at St. George’s Park. Before the interview while I waiting for Mr. Faulkner to arrive, palms sweaty and nerves shaken, I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew about the man was that at 33 years old he was now the youngest Chief Executive in the most powerful football league in the world. You would think a man in his position with his accomplishments that he might be someone that could be difficult to deal with. I was so very, very wrong. He greeted me with a smile, a firm handshake and was one of the nicest, most accommodating individual I have ever met. After the interview was over and we just chatted a bit he offered me the chance of a lifetime to come down to Birmingham and work with their marketing department, needless to say, I gladly accepted.
So there I was a month later hopping off a train at Aston station and making the walk like many supporters had done week-in, week-out for years upon years. Seeing that ground in the distance made me well with pride knowing I had a chance to get a look in at a club I had watched on television for years. Not to mention a chance to get a much stick as my Hammers supporting mates back home could fit on facebook.
So you want to know what it is like and why you should be hopeful huh?
Working at a football club is like working at any other business, just with a better view. Just so you know, the best time to walk around the ground or take a tour is right before the season begins. An untouched, recently laid pitch is something of pure beauty. I could have kissed it if it wouldn’t get me thrown out of the club. Walking down those hallowed hallways where the first inklings of creating a league and league table by William McGregor is slightly overwhelming, especially when looking out at the pitch. However the view of the marketing office can be a bit dower on cloudy days considering you are looking at the parking lot.
The guys and girls that make up the marketing department are amazing. They love the club and they were very warm and welcoming. They want nothing more than to see the club progress, even if they support another club… say West Brom. Even if you don’t support the club you work for, which a lot of people don’t, it grows on you. And you never want the place you work to do badly. This marketing department is one of the best in the league. Certainly the best among the clubs I had the chance to learn from. Why? It is a simple idea. Change. They aren’t afraid to evolve and try new things. A lot of clubs in the league are stuck in their ways and never want to change how they do things. The greatest thing about this club is they want to grow but they are willing to risk everything for it like some clubs, I.E. Portsmouth. A great American expression I think that goes with football nowadays is they aren’t “writing checks their ass can’t cash.”
You want a reason to feel good about the future?
It is that willingness to evolve the business. If the business evolves and if it can do it parallel to the evolution of the first team then you put yourself in such an amazing position for the future. The club has an intelligent hard-man in Paul Lambert at the helm. The average age of the squad is only 24.6 and the talent he is bringing in is something special. Not just Benteke but Bacuna and Helenius as well. Right now you have some great results to keep building on after Arsenal and Man City.
At the end of the day you have a great owner in Randy Lerner. He is a true American football fan and Anglophile. Randy studied in England when he was younger and fell in love with the game. He is in constant contact with Paul and he brings his knowledge of the NFL and the American sports world that he can combine to create a successful hybrid business model taking the best of both worlds. This, to me, is what is going to give you an advantage in the years to come.
There are a few photos for you. Let me know what you think.