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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 21:12 GMT
Royal football visit replayed
Prince Charles unveils plaque
Charles told the club Prince William is a Villa fan
Prince Charles followed a family tradition when he officially opened a new stand at Aston Villa's football stadium.

His grandfather the Duke of York opened the original Trinity Road stand at Villa Park in Birmingham 75 years ago.

The prince unveiled a plaque on the new 17m stand which opened to supporters in February.

Charles delighted club officials after telling star striker Dion Dublin how much his son, Prince William, enjoyed following Villa.

Villa fan

Chatting to Dublin - an ambassador for the Prince's Trust charity - Charles asked him how the team had been faring this season.

Dublin replied: "We are third and we have every chance of doing something this year."

Charles added: "As you know, my son is a big Villa fan and sends his regards."

One man watching was Villa tour guide Jack Watts, 83, who looked on as the Duke of York opened the original stand.

Mr Watts, who has worked for the football club since 1939, said: "I was only six when the Duke came in 1926.
Aston Villa badge
Some supporters opposed the new stand

"I remember sitting on my brother's shoulders to get a better view and the extreme excitement of the occasion on that day.

"I now feel so privileged and proud to be able to see both grandfather and grandson perform the same ceremony."

A spokesman for Aston Villa said the royal visit gave the ceremony "a certain symmetry".

Prince Charles also talked to hundreds of youngsters who have been involved in his charity, the Prince's Trust when he visited the stadium on Monday.

However, the new stand has not met with approval from all sides.

Members of the club's independent supporters association are unhappy that the old stand was destroyed to make way for the replacement.

Aston Villa's spokesman said: "Unfortunately the old stand did not meet modern safety standards."

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