Craig Gardner started his football career at Aston Villa when he was lad. He claimed Villa were the team he had always supported. Until he joined Birmingham…
April 2007: “I signed for Villa when I was 15 and since then these have been the best days of my life. I’m a Villa fan. I’ve come through the ranks and nothing can be better. I used to be on the Holte End. I was there when we beat Tranmere in the League Cup semi-final. I was at the game when Mark Bosnich saved the penalty and we all ran on to the pitch so it’s come from that. When I was watching Villa as a kid there were people like Garry Parker, Dalian Atkinson and Paul McGrath. They were all brilliant. I used to sing their names and now I look at the crowd and they’re chanting my name so it’s great.”
Then, in January 2010, Birmingham signed him and after claiming to be a lifelong Villa fan, changed his tune.
January 2010: “Having played for the Villa everyone thinks I’m a Villa fan but I’m a Bluenose. I have been all my life. I was a mascot at John Frain’s testimonial. But I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. People who know me, my close friends and family, they all know I’m a Blues fan. As they say: ‘once a blue, always a blue’.”
Once a blue, always a blue… until they get relegated. Then it’s once a blue, now a Mackem.
June 2011: “It’s unbelievable, to be honest. As soon as I found out Sunderland were interested, it was a no-brainer.”