Sir Doug Ellis earned a knighthood for his charity but he was not always cast as the good guy during his time at Aston Villa.
Some would say it was just bad luck on his part that their finest hour came in the only seven-year period from 1968 to 2006 that he wasn’t on the board, but that didn’t stop Villa fans turning against him for not capitalising on their European Cup success in 1982.
Former pundit and fishing companion Jimmy Greaves would label him ‘Deadly Doug’, which became synonymous with his propensity to fire managers.
The full list of those reads: Tommy Cummings (1967–1968), Tommy Docherty (1968–1970), Vic Crowe (1970–1974), Ron Saunders (1974–1982), Tony Barton (1982–1984), Graham Turner (1984–1986), Billy McNeill (1986–1987), Graham Taylor (1987–1990), Jozef Venglos (1990–1991), Ron Atkinson (1991–1994), Brian Little (1994–1998), John Gregory (1998–2002), Graham Taylor (2002–2003), David O’Leary (2003–2006) and Martin O’Neill (2006–2010).
Ellis alongside Taylor while signing Tony Cascarino in 1990
That the club’s longest-serving and most successful manager, Saunders, served most of his eight-year reign when Ellis was not on the board was, again, seen as no coincidence by many fans.
Villa went into decline at the start of Ellis’ second stint and were relegated in 1987, with many blaming a lack of money spent on players.
That was again the gripe in the 1990s and early 2000s when Villa never quite managed the title challenge their fans craved as Ellis continued to clash with fans, players and managers.
Recounting some of the threats he received, Ellis said: ‘We had threats to kidnap the kids and there were many threats to ‘execute’ me, usually by telephone.
‘The calls I received were particularly damaging to my wife, Heidi.
Randy Lerner (right) bought the club from Ellis in 2006 but his reign was a disaster
‘We couldn’t come home at midnight from a social function and put the lights on because there would be a van down the road and the threatening calls would begin.
‘They’d be waiting for me to come in.
‘One night, a three-ton lorry was driven over our garden leaving deep ruts.
‘And six inch nails were scraped down the side of the Rolls.’
Ellis and his supporters maintained that staying debt free and building a strong stadium and infrastructure were great achievements, despite the lack of silverware.
Certainly, many have craved for those days in the 12 years since his departure as the club racked up massive debts and were relegated under his American successor Randy Lerner.