Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
Saying his name out loud draws smiles from the faces of every single Aston Villa supporter no matter the age. A lot of people like to throw the word “legendary” around. Most often than not, the “legendary” status comes down to opinion. But sometimes, calling someone a legend just makes perfect sense. There is no wonderment on how a figure amassed this great height. There is only acceptance that you will truly remember said character, and remember them always.
This is exactly in the case of John Carew and his time at Aston Villa. In January of 2007, Aston Villa made a swap deal with French club Olympique Lyonnais. This saw Carew come to Aston Villa, but also seen under-achieving striker Milan Baroš go to Lyon. Baroš would only find the net once in his last seventeen appearances for Martin O’Neill during the 2006-2007 campaign, and that was enough to see him shipped elsewhere. What a lot of Villa fans didn’t know is that in return, they would be gifted with a player who would go on to score 37 goals in four and a half seasons.
While the number of goals came at somewhat of a shock, more shocking was how Carew was scoring the goals for Aston Villa. It seemed that no angle was too sharp, no amount of traffic too turbulent, and no blade of grass untouched during the Norwegians reign as the Villa Number 10. In his first six months in Claret and Blue, Carew bagged three goals in eleven appearances. Not too bad, but not exactly the goals that Martin O’Neill would have hoped to garner from his new striker.
O’Neill would get his payment in droves in the 2007-2008. Carew would go on to appear in 32 games, scoring 13 times. Netting a hat trick against Newcastle and scoring two goals in the famous 5-1 dismantling of Birmingham City, there was no doubt that John Carew was the name on the lips of the Villa faithful. With such a talented group around Carew, it seemed as though Aston Villa were off to new heights. Carew found many goals at a premium with winger Ashley Young giving him service almost at will. The partnership still stands as one of Aston Villas’ most successful in recent memories. The way that the two players would find each other almost seemed supernatural. The chemistry in the whole Aston Villa side seemed to be getting stronger more than weaker. Villa would go on to finish sixth on the table in the Premier League, and brighter days were ahead for John Carew and Aston Villa.
In 2008-2009, Carew’s goal bonanza would continue. His 15 goals again led Aston Villa by seasons end and the man seemed as though he could score exactly when he wanted to. This show of scoring prowess was starting to become somewhat of a signal to the rest of the Premier League. Long gone were the days of Aston Villa trying to use skill over power. With John Carew, Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor as the main attacking options, things started to fall into place with Villa finishing 6th for the second year in a row. Carew and Villa would do the same in 2009-2010, finishing 6th and Carew once again leading Aston Villa with a remarkable 17 goals.
Looking back on Carews time at Villa Park, what a joy it was to watch him perform. With such an excitement around Aston Villa, a lot of pivotal pieces were acquired to lift Villa out of football mediocrity and towards the upper-tier of the table. Although it seems a long time ago by now, I don’t know a single Villa fan who thinks back on those times with bad feelings. Every single Villa supporter should be proud of John Carew, his style of play, and his dedication to Aston Villa. With a legendary man, comes a legendary chant. Sometimes if you listen closely at Villa Park, men who were boys and women who were girls still like to sing John Carews’ chant. It is compared to turning over an ancient artifact these days, but I think it shows a different side to Aston Villa supporters in full. We never forget our legends. No matter how much time has passed since they have played in the Claret and Blue.