The Villa View’s Dan Bardell writes about the affinity that Aston Villa fans have for Tyrone Mings, and the one he holds for the club in return.
Follow the writer on twitter: @danbardell
“I always thought left back was his primary position, he made his name at Ipswich playing at full back. So I was quite surprised when Dean Smith said he’d been purchased to play centre back.”
This was me after a long day, trying to dissect a busy January transfer deadline day for Aston Villa on “The Villa View”. Left back may have been the position I’d watched Tyrone Mings play as a youngster for The Tractor Boys, but make no bones about it I don’t think I’ll ever watch him play there again. Centre-back is his calling.
Seven months on from that expert analysis on YouTube, Tyrone Mings is about to embark on Aston Villa’s premier League journey as one of our record signings and as a player that transformed a back-line that was shipping goals from almost every angle.
When Mings pulls on that Kappa number forty shirt – that let’s face it was made for people like him and not me and you – he is doing so as our number one centre back and as a player that has put himself into the hearts of all Aston Villa fans.
My Dad is sixty-seven, he doesn’t really do favourite players, but this summer he would ask me every day what was going on with Tyrone Mings. He was desperate to be watching him from the Holte end again this season and beyond. This mattered.
From turning up at Bournemouth station in his full Villa kit, to joining in the chanting with the away end at Elland Road, there are already stories that just make Tyrone stand out.
This is someone who Aston Villa fans have fallen in love with as both a player and as a person. We are a fan-base with high standards, we demand the best and rightly so, we are Aston Villa. We don’t fall in love easily, we’ve been burnt so many times in the last decade. That said, in his short time at Villa Park he has created a relationship that takes normal players years to build. We’ve let ourselves fall. This isn’t normal.
Tyrone Mings isn’t normal, and I mean that as a compliment.
This is a guy that has got into professional football the hard way, nothing has been handed to him. The route he has taken to become a professional footballer has become a plus in my opinion, both for Mings the person and Mings the footballer.
Talking to the BBC Football daily podcast last week Tyrone talks of being rejected by a One Stop Store for “not having enough experience” and that he could see his dreams of becoming a professional footballer “slipping away”. Well until Mings arrived I could see Aston Villa’s Premier League return slipping away, its hard to imagine this colossus getting rejected from a convenience store. It’s a funny old World.
Now I’m not knocking footballers who have come up through the academy route, or players that have spent their whole career at the top and let’s bear in mind I do not know Tyrone Mings. However, when you hear him talk, you get a sense that it’s these moments that have made him what he is today. Humble, grounded and keen to help others.
His interactions on social media with the Villa faithful have showcased that willingness to help others, if Tyrone can help, he will. He’s a Villan.
Our Editor/cameraman Dan Rolinson has honed his abilities in the same way Mings has mastered the Cruyff turn out of trouble in defence. Annoyingly Dan has not quite had his big break, nothing to do with ability, but things haven’t gone his way through no fault of his own. Mings can relate to this.
The One Stop story I’ve mentioned was tweeted about, and Dan Rolinson commented with the below:
Within minutes Tyrone had offered him the chance to do some work for one of his businesses.
Now I know this offer is genuine, they’ve been speaking to each other away from the public domain. It’s not an empty gesture, the wheels are very much in motion.
When I say “Tyrone isn’t normal” this is what I mean.
I’m not saying other players don’t make fantastic gestures, I know how much Jack Grealish does for Villa fans for example. It’s just the manner of Tyrone, you feel like he can relate to the every-man in a way not all people at his level can. When I saw the interaction I wasn’t even surprised. This what the man is about.
Back to Mings the footballer:
“ I couldn’t see the path into football” stated Mings in the aforementioned podcast.
Opposition attackers couldn’t see a path past him last season and it was a joy to watch.
This is not Mings’ first foray into the Premier League, he’s played games for his previous side Bournemouth, even enjoying a few games at centre half. Injuries and Eddie Howe’s selections towards the end of his time on the South Coast have slowed his career down. You get the sense that now is his time in the top flight and he’s going to grab it with the gusto and enthusiasm that has endeared him to the Villa faithful already. He will put his body on the line for us again, just like he did in the Play-Off Final. This means something to him.
There’s probably an element of making up for lost time, at twenty six Mings is approaching his prime and with plenty of football missed, it means that miles left in the tank are perhaps more than a standard twenty six year old defender. I truly believe Tyrone is a Premier League centre half ready to shine. We are lucky to have him. I envisage a scenario where at the end of the season Bournemouth fans are thinking “I wish we had this guy playing for us, how did we let this happen?”
It was an unusual situation in the summer, here was a player who Bournemouth did not want, if it wasn’t for financial fair play Villa could have picked up the former Chippenham Town player for a fifth of what we could eventually end up paying for him. Yet Mings had done so well and made such a lasting impression on everyone at Villa that Bournemouth could demand what for anyone outside of the B6 bubble looked like a fortune.
We know it’s money well spent, he was the one we all really wanted back. He just “gets it” and he gets us. The permanent move was a no brainer, both for him and for Villa. It simply had to happen
When the players walk out at White Hart Lane on Saturday they will all have their own story on what has led them to that moment.
You feel that there are parallels between Mings’ journey and the Club’s voyage back to the Premier League. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. Tyrone Mings and Aston Villa are back in the big time and both are hopefully here to stay.
Both belong there.