Mac Maguire and Aston Villa – A Love Story

Holte endThey say that authors often put a lot of themselves into their main characters but I’m not so sure that’s the case with Mac Maguire. I’ve given him my love of puzzles but I’ve not done him any favours by also saddling him with my disabilities and a love of Aston Villa Football Club. Otherwise I think we’re quite different.

Mac’s conversations about his favourite football club with his best friend Tim are a feature of virtually every book to date. So how did Mac get to be such a fervent Aston Villa fan?

I suppose the simple answer might be because the author is a fervent Villa fan too but it’s not quite that simple. Mac became a Villa supporter when I was trying to think of how Mac and Tim might have first met. I couldn’t think of anything for quite a while until a scene flashed into my head of Villa scoring in a cup final against Manchester United. As United were (and still are) quite a successful team they’ve got plenty of ‘supporters’ across the country. These ‘supporters’ are usually people who aren’t from Manchester and have never been to a live football game, they just like to follow successful teams. So when Mac is watching the match in his favourite watering hole he finds that he is the only one there supporting Aston Villa. Everyone else seems to be wearing the red of Manchester United.

He is, however, proved wrong. Villa score a goal and he sees another lone Villa supporter celebrating at the other end of the room. After the match he goes over and that’s when Mac first meets Tim Teagan. They subsequently become the best of friends.

Peter McParlandMy love of the club goes back a long way. I can just about remember the 1957 FA Cup Final in which my favourite player of all time, Peter McParland, scored both goals and won the game for us. I’ve been hooked ever since. I’m not the only writer who’s a fan though.

A couple of years ago I attended the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and the star attraction was Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher books. I was somewhat surprised when Lee was interviewed and he admitted his undying love for Aston Villa. He also admitted that he often used the names of old Villa players for his characters. I found myself the day after stuck in a queue with Lee and started up a conversation. I think he was expecting me to be a Jack Reacher fan but he appeared to be more than delighted when I started talking about the Villa and asked what he thought of how they were doing. We spent a pleasant three or four minutes talking about our favourite club. Towards the end I mentioned that I too was an author and joked that instead of giving my main character the dark angst that seems to be a staple in many modern thrillers I made him a Villa supporter instead. Which wasn’t all that far from the truth.

At the time I started writing the Mac Maguire books Aston Villa were on the cusp of being relegated from the Premier League. On many occasions since I thought that they couldn’t get any worse but they managed it somehow. They are now thankfully playing quite well and so I’m hoping that we’re on our way back.

Someone once said that men obsess about football so that they don’t have to think about life. I think that there is some truth in that. Both Mac and Tim are widowers but they have each other and a shared love of the Villa. No matter how bad things are there is always the pub, some company and a football game to talk about.






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