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Aston Villa: A Brief History

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIINovember 11, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 31:  The winter Sun reflects off the word 'Villa' high above the exterior of Villa Park prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic at Villa Park on January 31, 2009 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Aston Villa FC were formed in March 1874, by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Aston (in Birmingham). The four founders were Jack Hughes, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price, and William Scattergood.

The first ever official match the mighty Villa played was against Aston Brook St Mary's Rugby team. As a condition of the game, Villa agreed to play the first half under rugby rules and the second under football rules.

Aston Villa's first ever honour came in 1880, where they won the Senior Cup under the captaincy of Scotsman George Ramsay. Seven years later, the club won it's first ever FA Cup, this time under the captaincy of Archie Hunter, one of the game's first real household names.

Villa were one of the 12 clubs that founded the inaugural Football League back in 1888. One of the club's directors at the time, William McGregor, is credited as being the founder of the league.

In 1897, Villa won their first Football League trophy, as well as a second FA Cup. In this same successful year for the Birmingham club, they also moved to the ground where they currently are, at Villa Park, which when it was first built was known as Ashton Lower Grounds.

For the next two decades Aston Villa had a largely successful period, winning six FA Cup trophies and several Football League titles. However, after their sixth FA Cup win in 1920, things started to go downhill for the Villa, and by 1936, after 16 years without a trophy, Aston Villa were relegated out of the top division in the Football League, that point being the first time in their history.

And it would be another 37 years before they would next win a trophy, which happened to be a seventh FA Cup success. This seventh FA Cup victory is their last FA Cup to date.

Much of the reason for such a long period of time without a trophy was due to the fact that World War II had cost Villa several players, and the fact that football was suspended for seven years during because of the war.

In 1967, Aston Villa were relegated from the top flight of English football for only the third time in their history, under the guidance of manager Dick Taylor. And things then got even worse for Villa after they got relegated from the Second Division in 1970.

However, two years later they bounced back as champions of the Third Division, and signs of change were present at Villa Park.

In 1973, Ron Saunders was appointed as manager, and by 1977, he had led Aston Villa back into the top flight of English football, the First Division. And in the same season he led them to the dizzy heights of European competition.

A meteoric rise to success once again, which was all made complete, when still under the guidance of Ron Saunders, Aston Villa won the First Division in 1981, a title victory that confirmed to the nation that Villa were back amongst the elite.

To the surprise of many fans, Ron Saunders quit halfway through the 1981-82 season. His replacement though, the softly-spoken assistant manager Tony Barton, also went on to achieve great things for the Villa. 

He guided them to a 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich in Rotterdam in the final of the European Cup, making Villa only one of four English teams to have ever won this prestigious trophy, behind Manchester United, Liverpool, and Nottingham Forest.

In 1992, Aston Villa became one of the founding members of the greatest football league in the world, the English Premier League (FA Premier League as it was known at the time). In their first EPL season, Aston Villa did what would be unthinkable nowadays, and finished the season as runners-up, behind winners Manchester United.

At the turn of the millennium, Aston Villa reached their first FA Cup final since they won it in 1957. It was the last ever game at Wembley before it would be knocked and rebuilt into the marvellous sporting arena it is today. However, it would be Chelsea who would win the 1999-00 FA Cup, and have the honour of being the last ever FA Cup winner in the old Wembley Stadium.

As you can see, Aston Villa Football Club has had an illustrious history, overall winning seven First Division titles, four Second Division titles, one Third Division title, seven FA Cups, five League Cups, one Charity Shield trophy, one European Cup, one European Cup Supercup, and one Intertoto Cup.

Let's hope that one day (hopefully in the not too distant future) Aston Villa Football Club can emulate the magnificent achievements of its past, and show that they are capable of being back amongst the elite in English football.

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