The legend suggests that yesterday was the 140th anniversary of Aston Villa Football Club. To commemorate the date, club officials have confirmed that club legend Gordon Cowans will unveil ‘the founding lamp’ – a gas lamp monument that was suggested by a supporter named David Rose – at 7p.m. on Monday night outside the Holte End, ahead of the game against the Saints.
Its rich one hundred and forty year history makes Aston Villa one of the oldest football clubs in the country and certainly one of the most prestigious. The name is imposing: there is only one Villa.
The concept of a football club came to four members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan cricket team, who were looking for a sport that could be played in the winter months, and who met under a gas light in Heathfield Road to discuss the idea. Those four men are believed to have been Jack Hughes, George Matthews, William Price and William Scattergood.
Then came the leadership of William McGregor, a name that most Villa fans recognise. In 1888, the chairman of Aston Villa, McGregor, formed the first football league in the world. This makes our club recognisable on a global stage, which, in some ways, is better than any success. We gifted the idea of a football league to the game that we love, courtesy of McGregor, and no-one will ever be able to dispute that.
The successes have been prominent in our history. The first of our seven FA Cup victories to date came in 1887, when Villa captain Archie Hunter became the first player to score in every round of the competition. We have since followed this up with another six FA Cups, although it has ben almost sixty years since we last won it. The last time that we did win it, it happened to be our first trophy in thirty-eight years, ending a long drought.
Our impressive way of making history continued when we won the first ever League Cup in 1960 – a 3-2 win over Rotherham United. Since that initial success, we have seen the trophy return to Villa Park’s trophy cabinet on a further four occasions.
Seven first division titles and the ultimate achievement in football, the European Cup, are fine examples of the club’s history. It is often stated by fans of other clubs that have never won the European cup that it ‘doesn’t matter’ and it was ‘ages ago’ that we had such a proud achievement. If their clubs had ever won the famous cup, then they wouldn’t feel the need to lessen Aston Villa’s history.
In recent times, it seems that Villa fans have become very modest about our past successes, almost dismissive, because of the length of time it has been since we last enjoyed dominance and victories. However, we support one of the most successful football clubs in the country.
The current team doesn’t reflect our impressive history and successes of old but even so we continue to make history, with Fabian Delph’s England caps, making him the seventy-second player to represent the England national team while playing in Villa’s claret and blue, meaning that more Aston Villa players have been picked for England than players from any other club.
Let’s hope that the founding lamp reignites our hopes of a bright future and that all associated with this great club can make the next one hundred and forty years as memorable as the last, starting with a victory against Southampton. The Holte End is the twelfth man when in full voice, so remember and commemorate our past with a show of enthusiastic support on Monday night.