Friday, December 19, 2008

Aston Villa Football Club

The History of Aston Villa Football Club
A sleeping giant amongst English Football’s elite
Four members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel of Aston founded Aston Villa Football Club in 1874; they were Jack Hughes, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price and William Scattergood.

By 1880, the club had established themselves as one of the best teams in the Midlands and secured their first piece of silverware by winning the Birmingham Senior Cup.

Aston Villa, also known as Villa or The Villains tasted FA Cup success as early as 1887 when they defeated local rivals West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at the Kennington Oval. One year later and Villa were competing in the first Football League competition.

England’s most successful club during the Victorian era

Villa emerged as the most successful club in England, winning five League titles and three FA Cups, culminating in them securing the prestigious League and FA Cup double in 1897.

Aston Villa went on to win three more FA Cups, securing their sixth in 1920. This success though, sparked an alarming fall from grace during the 1920’s and early 1930’s, resulting in relegation to the second division in 1936.

On football’s return after the Second World War, the club faced years of re-building the squad and did so under Alex Massie who guided them back to the top flight of English football. However, they didn’t experience further trophy success again until 1957 when an unexpected run in the FA Cup saw them crowned eventual winners thanks to a final defeat of the famous Manchester United ‘Busby Babes’.

The elation was short lived though as Villa were once again relegated from the First Division in 1959, but were crowned Second Division champions in 1960. The following season the club won the first ever League Cup competition to complete a remarkable few years.

The late 1960’s and 1970’s saw further difficulties for the club as Villa were relegated again in 1967. Mounting pressure from the supporters forced the clubs whole board to resign as Villa sat bottom of the Second Division. This led to Pat Matthews taking control of club and bringing in with him, Doug Ellis as Chairman.

The new regime was unable to prevent Aston Villa from being relegated for the first time in their history to the Third Division of English football in 1970. However, the club returned to the Second Division as champions in 1972 and under the guidance of Ron Saunders got back to the First Division by 1977.
Villa secure league title and European Cup success

Saunders led Villa to the League title in 1981, but after falling out with the club Chairman; quit his position halfway through the 1981 -1982 season despite getting Villa to the quarterfinals of the European Cup. His replacement Tony Barton, guided the club to a famous European Cup Final victory against Bayern Munich, winning 1-0 in Rotterdam.

The remainder of the 1980’s saw Villa in decline and relegation occurred again in 1987, only for them to return to the top flight the next season and achieve a league runner-up slot in 1989.

Aston Villa, one of the founder members of the Premier League in 1992 again finished as runners-up during this year. Despite two more League Cup wins in 1993 and 1996 and an FA Cup final appearance in 2000 where they lost to Chelsea, Villa rarely threatened league title glory.

In 2006 American millionaire, Randy Lerner bought out Doug Ellis after 23 years as chairman and majority shareholder and he appointed Martin O’Neill as his manager. The arrival of a new owner and manager sparked a new wave of optimism amongst the Villa Park faithful who will be hoping for a return to the years of trophy success.

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