ASTON Villa boss Martin O'Neill last night defended fielding a 69 year-old tea lady in central defence after his side were dumped out of the Uefa cup.
Margaret Gerving, who has been serving delicious refreshments at Villa Park since 1983, said she enjoyed her first outing and that her acrylic hip joints had performed surprisingly well.
The grandmother of eight said: "I'm more of an attacking midfielder but I'm happy to play wherever the boss needs me. I just hope my series of severe angina attacks whenever the ref blew his whistle did not distract the other lads too much."
Mrs Gerving added: "This is my grandson Stuart. He's studying mechanical engineering at Warwick. I don't like his girlfriend though. Very full of herself."
O'Neill opted for an experimental 4-1-0 line up against CSKA Moscow, including Mrs Gerving, two year-old Spiderman enthusiast Kyle Stephenson, the late Danny Blanchflower, and an atom of hydrogen at right-back.
He said: "I wanted Margaret to put her foot on the ball, calm things down and build from the back. I did not expect her to bring a folding chair, a walkman and the audio book of Passion's Promise by Danielle Steel.
"It was probably for the best when the big lad knocked her over and ruptured her colostomy bag."
With Villa fourth in the Premier League, O'Neill said he wanted to rest key players in their push for the title. But Man Utd manager Alex Ferguson described the tactic as 'pissing a fire door shut', adding: "Title-contenders my furious, purple arse."