I haven’t written under a headline for a while, but I figured this was something worth drawing a little attention to.

I was on a happy jaunt to Blockbuster to pick up a DVD in order to waste away the remainder of my usual Sunday hangover sat on the sofa when I decided to pop into JJB on the local retail park. I wanted to have a look at boots and pick up a new stud spanner for a mate when I noticed something I haven’t noticed before in my 27 years of life.

Living in Essex isn’t conducive to getting to many games and I while away some afternoons by going to watch Colchester United or Ipswich town to get a hit of live action, but I have noticed a growing sway in support for the Villa to that of every Premier league fans second team.

It is something I am beginning to hear a lot in conversation in the pub or on a blog. Many are complimentary of our Manager or Chairman or our glut of young English talent or the counter attacking way we play and it seems there has been a shift in attitude towards our club that many of my friends labelled as ‘boring boring Villa’ for so very long.

Anyway, I digress.

I was standing in JJB in the heart of Essex where it is not uncommon to see a plethora of Spurs, West Ham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool shirts on display and there before my very eyes was a rack with a full range of Villa shirts; home and away in every size you could think of. As if this wasn’t enough there were mannequins modelling a Milner and Young shirt.

As many on here are from Birmingham this may seem rather inconsequential, but to me it is unheard of. There may as well have been a shining divine light from between two clouds accompanied by the tear jerking chorus of a choir of angels.

No longer will I have to order from the club site only to find they’ve sent me two shirts, both in the wrong size and one of which is long sleeved only for me to have to send it back. I can just pop down to the local retail park and pick one up.

For a chain the size of JJB to stock this number, they must think they have a chance of selling them. This suggests that support is growing for the club I love, even in the chav riddled back water that is Essex.

I was looking at our nice looking kit, knitted in a Middle East sweatshop somewhere by a foetus getting paid in bottle caps for the leading sportswear manufacturer in the world and it occurred to me that we are on the up, the sleeping giant has awoken and we are fast becoming everyone’s dark horses to win something of note very soon.

We have been building on the pitch, and building a squad, but good old Randy has been sorting out a tremendous amount of other stuff too.

We do now look to the outsider like a large well run, modern football club. We have a huge fan base that is probably growing faster than it ever has nationally since the glory days of the 80’s. We have state of the art facilities, a nice kit and soon to be a redeveloped larger ground.

Despite the negativity I am seriously excited about my future as a Villa fan although I can certainly see where Damian is coming from with his post yesterday.

We don’t want to believe, we have been hurt too many times before to open ourselves up to the kind of embarrassing humiliation we suffered at the end of last season and despite us wanting to get excited we won’t let ourselves. We are continually enticed to believe only to find it is a false dawn and we are once again left wanting as our cheers die and descend into a vacant hanging cadence.

Our progress has been gradual and probably will continue to be so, but it is progress never the less. We have come a decent distance since our club was bought and a new manager installed and we have arguably our best chance of silverware and a highest league finish in years, don’t be scared to believe, if we are let down again then we are Villa fans; we can handle it.

This may seem trivial to so many, and some may flout my sexuality or commitment to the club, but it really made my weekend.