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7500toHolte's Best Articles of 2016

A round-up of our best work from this year.

Aston Villa v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

In a year many commentators have labelled one of the "worst ever", "bloody awful mate" and "is it over yet?", Villa fans have had special reason to grumble, with our first relegation from the Premier League capping several years of increasing awfulness.

But we hope you agree that at 7500toHolte we haven't let it grind us down. We’ve published a huge range of articles this year and we've picked out some favourites. We hope you enjoy browsing through them again as much as we enjoyed writing them, and we look forward to 2017 with all of you.

Starting 2016 - Can Remi Garde turn it round?

Villa entered 2016 bottom of the table and with Remi Garde struggling to make an impact. Things didn't change much.

  • The day Villa's season turned - Herbert Crowther - The divergence in Villa and Leicester's fortunes since a gutting 3-2 loss in September looked ever more important as the season continued. Herbert traced Villa and Tim Sherwood’s struggles with a losing mentality.
  • Aston Villa vs Leicester City: This is progress - Elis Sandford - The Leicester - Villa comparison continued with this analysis of our 1-1 draw in January. Hope still reigned as Elis picked out improvements under Garde - although time proved the optimism unfounded.
  • Tactics Talk: West Brom 0-0 Aston Villa - A Classic Game Of Pulisball - Adam Clark - A goalless draw may not have been the most exciting game of the year, but it provided a horrifying glimpse into the alternative sport known as Pulisball.

The drift towards relegation

As it became clear Villa would not escape the drop, our writers considered what impact relegation would have on the club.

  • Why Gabby's goal made me kind of sad - Adam Clark - Gabriel Agbonlahor scored his first goal for eleven months to secure the win against Norwich. It proved to be Villa's last win of the season and Gabby's last league goal for Villa to date (ever?). But it caused Adam to reflect on what Gabby meant for Villa fans and the club as a whole.
  • Leicester's title is a victory for the Midlands, a defeat for Birmingham - James Rushton - After years of domination by Manchester and London, a Midlands club finally took the Premier League title. It just happened to be Leicester, rather than Aston Villa. Birmingham's James Rushton considered what the the collapse of Birmingham's top club meant for the city.
  • LeBron James, Cleveland and Aston Villa: A story to rekindle hope - Herbert Crowther - While Villa's relegation seemed like a crippling blow, Herbert reminded us there's always a chance of a comeback and drew parallels with another club that had to get knocked down to rise to its former glory.
  • Relegation is part of Villa's natural cycle - Alex Carson - On a similar note, Alex dug into Villa's own history to show Villa have faced plenty of relegations in the past - and the periods of greatest success have tended to follow their return.

New season, new hope

With Tony Xia in charge, signings made in the summer and a new managerial team installed (ahem), Villa fans and 7500toHolte looked forward to the Championship with optimism.

  • On The Pod, My Lord Episode 7: Season Preview Podcast - James Rushton, Elis Sandford and Adam Clark - 7500toHolte's younger podcast, beside the venerable Holtecast, took a look at the season ahead. Take a listen and you can see how well some of our predictions fared. We were so optimistic about Roberto Di Matteo. Sigh.
  • Aston Villa TV schedule and stream information for 2016-17- Jack Grimse - At 7500toHolte we have an international readership. With the drop to the Championship also came increased difficulties watching Villa. Luckily, Jack was on hand to take on the mammoth task of mapping out where you can see every fixture in the UK, US & Ireland and Australia, as well as elsewhere.
  • North American Villans raise over $6,000 for Acorns Children's Hospice - Jack Grimse - If you think it's been tough at Villa Park in 2016, spare a thought for North American fans who have to wake up at ridiculous hours to see the team. And spare more than a thought for AVFC Lions Chicago, who raised an incredible amount for Acorns at their annual meet-up, featuring Villa League-Cup winning legend Ian Taylor.
  • Squad imbalance is causing serious problems for Villa - Alex Carson - While we may all be howling for midfield upgrades in January now, Alex identified the issue in September, a problem which eventually cost Roberto Di Matteo his job.
  • Where will Villa finish? We did the maths - Phil Vogel - Our new signing for the season Phil brought both puns and mathematical flair to this upbeat analysis of Villa's progress under Steve Bruce.

Villa ladies

One of our mains aims at 7500toHolte this year has been to write more about Aston Villa Ladies. There's no better time to get acquainted with the team than now, as they prepare for the Spring Series, ahead of their promotion campaign from Women's Super League 2. Get in touch with the club and tell them you want to see more coverage of the Ladies.

  • Holtecast 104: Talking with Villa Ladies forward Katie Wilkinson and journalist Carrie Dunn - Robert Lintott - Get started by listening to our editor Robert chat with Katie and Carrie for the 104th (yes, over a 100 - hit those archives now) Holtecast episode. One of the best things about AVLFC is how approachable and positive the atmosphere around the side is. That we can sit down and chat with one of their stars is a perfect example.
  • From the stands: Aston Villa Ladies vs Watford Ladies - Elis Sandford - Part of our excellent 'From The Stands' series this season, Elis was there to report on the Aston Villa Ladies first appearance at Villa Park. Seeing a Villa team win convincingly, in front of a supportive crowd, at a great price for tickets? Ladies football showing the way.

The death of Dalian Atkinson

  • What we know about Dalian Atkinson's death - Phil Vogel - The death of former Villa striker Dalian Atkinson in August, after being tasered by police, was a tragedy, and Villa fans came together in tribute to his memory. There are still questions to be answered over police actions and the treatment of the mentally ill in cases such as these. At 7500toHolte we felt the best we could do was give as full a picture as possible of what could reliably be confirmed about the circumstances of Atkinson's death.

Remembering Tom Barber: World War One and Aston Villa

  • Tom Barber: An Aston Villa hero both on the pitch and in the field - Robert Lintott - A beautifully written piece that intertwines Tom Barber's appearance for Villa in the 1913 FA Cup Final and his service at the Battle of the Somme. A century on from World War One, a reminder and a warning of how the joy of sport can contrast with much darker times.

Media matters

Here at 7500toHolte we aim to entertain, inform and debate with Villa fans. You might think we're wrong, stupid or just not funny but we will never mislead or treat our readers as nothing more than fodder for views. Unlike other media organisations we can mention.

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We're very proud of what we've written at 7500toHolte this year but it would mean nothing without our readership. Thanks to anyone who's read us on our site and those on our Facebook and Twitter pages. It's been a tough year, but better experienced together.

We're going to keep improving in 2017 to become Villa fans' go-to site for smart, entertaining and informative writing, podcasts and anything else we can think of about Aston Villa.

Please do let us know your own favourite 7500toHolte pieces and what you want to see more of, or even anything entirely new that you'd like to see us do in the New Year.

Happy New Year's and up the Villa!