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					Why Aston Villa?

The year was 1982. The location was at the school canteen of Saint Joseph Johor Bahru. My friends
Muthu, Justus and Ramesh were engaged in heavy discussion on the on going FIFA World Cup football
tournament in Spain. I am naïve and totally obscure person when it comes to football knowledge back
then. As they were engaged in highly energy sapping and emotional discussion, I budged in without
permission with the following questions? Are Zico and Maradona playing for Brazil? Are Bryan and
Bobby Robson related? Stoke City(supported by Justus), Leicester City(supported by Ramesh) and
Sunderland(supported by Muthu) playing the World Cup? What an irresponsible questions to the
genius trio? Immediately I was told shut up and advised to get my facts right.

Gutted, disgruntled and mentally challenged, I promised myself to do justice to myself by reading on
football and its history. The entire school holiday in year 1982 was spend on reading about World Cup,
European championship, European Cup, Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Cup, English League and everything
that was available on football. The entire holiday was spend on memorizing the 1982 World Cup finals
score from the 1st game when Edwin Van Der Berg open his account for Belgium against Maradona’s
reigning champions Argentina to the last goal by Itallian Allesandro Altobelli in the 3-1 defeat of West
Germany.

But I didn’t stop there. I proceeded to find my own English team. Based on history should it be
Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal? But everyone seems to support them. I need a classic team
with history, a team where no one supports (at least those are near my vicinity), a team who can be
associated with my own name. That is where Aston Villa stood up. The initials ‘A’ and ‘V’ is part of my
own name. Aston Villa represented my own passion for excellence, the untiring effort for improvement,
the willingness to go the extra mile, astuteness for promised greatness, the nobody who anyone
wants to be associated with, the one who spring surprises, the underdog, the dark horses of the
tournament and right enough till now, its year 2005 I haven’t come across any supporters of Aston
Villa, at least in Malaysia.

It has been 23 years now, I have been supporting the Villan’s through the thick and thin. Never once I
opted for any other teams because it makes me a rare breed among people who swap teams like
changing their ward rope. I have a very BIG dream though. By 2009 when our ASK building is in
operation, I will dedicate part of the ground floor for my own Aston Villa fan club. I am also preparing
my CASH to buy a certain stake at the club which will put me in a position as one of the owners of the
club. When I do my PhD, I have planned to associate myself with the Aston Business Scholl, which is
only a stone away for Villa Park. Villa, here I come!


(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Aston Villa Football Club play at Villa Park in Birmingham, England. They currently play in the
Premier League. Aston Villa were founding members of the Football League in 1888 and of the Premier
League in 1992. It is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in England.

History

Aston Villa Football Club was formed in March 1874 by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in
Aston, Birmingham. Members of the Aston Villa cricket team were looking for a way to stay fit during
the winter months and decided to adopt the new sport of football. The 'Four Founding Fathers' were
Jack Hughes, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price and William Scattergood. Little did they know that the
team they formed would go on to become the most famous and admired football club in the world by
the end of Queen Victoria's reign.

Aston Villa's first match was against the local Aston Brook St Mary's Rugby team and as a condition of
the match, the Villa side had to agree to play the first half under rugby rules and the second half
under football rules. Villa managed to hold St Mary's to a scoreless draw up to half time and in the
second half won the historic affair by one goal, scored by Jack Hughes. Villa won their first honour, the
Birmingham Challenge Cup in 1880, under the captaincy of Scotsman George Ramsay. The club won
its first FA Cup in 1887, by which time football had become professional. However, the Scottish draper
and director of Aston Villa, William McGregor had become frustrated with one-sided friendly matches
and low attendances for all games but FA Cup ties. He saw that in order to keep interest in the game
alive the top teams needed to play each other in a league much like American baseball teams did. So
he wrote to the 12 leading clubs in England proposing the formation of a league. The reason the
Football League was never called the English League is because McGregor intended Scottish and
Welsh teams to join eventually. Aston Villa were one of the dozen teams that competed in the
inaugural Football League in 1888 finishing runners-up.

It didn't take long for Villa to lift their first League Championship trophy, and this was achieved in
1893/94. This would signal the start of Aston Villa's 'Golden Age' and by the start of the First World
War the club had won the League Championship six times and the FA Cup five times, including in
1896/97, a League and Cup Double, a feat which would not be repeated for more than 60 years.

Although they remained a major force after the war, winning their sixth FA Cup in 1920, the club
began a slow decline. This can be attributed in large part to a complacency which culminated in the
unthinkable, the most famous and successful football club in world being relegated to the Second
Division in 1936. However, throughout the 1920's and into the 1930's the club had many fine
international players (in 1933/34 Villa had no fewer than 14 full internationals) and continued to
challenge for honours, Villa were FA Cup runners-up in 1924 and second in the League in 1931 and
1933. Throughout this period the Villa Park crowds were entertained with attacking football and goals
galore, in season 1930/31 Tom 'Pongo' Waring scored 49 of Aston Villa's 128 league goals, however
Villa were denied the title by the sensational Arsenal team of the 30's.

The club's decision to appoint their first manager coincided with relegation for the first time in
1935/36. This was largely due a dismal defensive record, they conceded 110 goals, 7 of them coming
from Arsenal's Ted Drake in the infamous 1-7 defeat at Villa Park. However 'The Grand Old Man' of
football was crowned Second Division Champions in 1937/38 under the guidance of Jimmy Hogan;
Aston Villa were back where they belonged by the outbreak of The Second World War. Seven seasons
were lost and many careers were finished due to the conflict and Aston Villa went about rebuilding the
team under the guidance of former player, Alex Massie. The remainder of the 1940s and the 1950s
saw Villa try to re-establish themselves as a top team. However, Villa could only be described as
average during this period, although they had some good players and attendances were high. Season
1956/57 saw Villa go on an unexpected FA Cup run that would culminate in them defeating the 'Busby
Babes' of Manchester United in the final. It was Aston Villa's first trophy for 37 years.

However this success proved to be a false dawn with the team finishing 14th in the league the
following season. Eric Houghton was sacked (after refusing to resign) when relegation loomed in
1958/59. His successor Joe Mercer was unable to prevent the club being relegated for the second time
in 1959. Again a complacency had set in at the club, the famous Aston Villa had won the FA Cup for a
record seventh time, this only served to fuel the belief that Villa were too good to go down. A return
to the top flight was assured however in 1960 when Villa were crowned Second Division Champions.
Season 1960/61 saw Villa win the inaugural League Cup and finish respectably in the league, this was
achieved with an exciting nucleus of youth players who became known as 'Mercer's Minors'.

The slow decline continued throughout the 1960s due to a deep seated malaise; the club had failed to
adapt to the new football reality, they had a non-existent scouting network, coaching was conducted
in the same way as it had been 40 years earlier and the 5 man board contained 3 members over the
age of 70. It was the board who decided that they couldn't refuse offers for their two most valuable
players, Phil Woosnam and Tony Hateley. Without their goals Villa were in real trouble and were
relegated for the third time, under manager Dick Taylor in 1967. The fans' calls for the board to resign
became more and more urgent when Villa finished 16th in the Second Division in 1968. In a desperate
attempt to avert total disaster, relegation to the Third Division, the manager, Tommy Cummings was
given £200,000 to spend on new players, and with supporters boycotting Villa's home games in
protest at the board, debts mounted. Events on the pitch came to a head in November 1968, with
Villa lying at the bottom of Division Two; the board sacked Cummings and within weeks the entire
board resigned due to overwhelming pressure from fans. After much speculation, control of the club
was bought by London financier Pat Matthews, he also brought in Doug Ellis as chairman and Tommy
Docherty as manager.

However, despite breathing new life into the club and initial success, Docherty was unable to lift the
team out of the danger zone and he was sacked after just a year in charge. His successor Vic Crowe,
was unable to prevent Aston Villa from being relegated to the Third Division for the first time its
history. Amazingly the following season Villa reached the League Cup final after beating Manchester
United in the semi-final. They were eventually defeated in the final by two late Tottenham goals. The
only way was up for Villa and in 1971/72 they finished top of the league with a team that was simply
too good for Division Three. The team narrowly missed out on successive promotions when they
finished third on their return to Second Division football in 1972/73. However the following season
Villa struggled and Doug Ellis sacked Crowe replacing him with Ron Saunders.

Aston Villa's centenary season provided the double success of a League Cup final victory over Norwich
and promotion to the First Division after an absence of eight seasons in 1974/75. Villa were back and
due to their League Cup success were in Europe for the first time. Although Villa were knocked out in
the first round by Antwerp, Saunders was assembling a team that would go on to win the European
Cup seven years later. Villa won the League Cup again in 1977 by beating Everton after two final
replays. The following season saw Villa reach the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup where they held their
own against Spanish giants, Barcelona. That night at the Nou Camp finally laid to rest the nightmare
of the previous 10 years; Aston Villa were finally back amongst the footballing elite.
The ups and downs of the 1980s

The 1980s was another mixed era in the history of Aston Villa football club. Villa won the Football
League Championship, fighting off competition from Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, in 1981 under
the managership of Ron Saunders. Saunders quit halfway through the following season (1981-82) and
was replaced by his assistant manager Tony Barton. In May 1982, just three months after being
appointed manager, Barton guided Villa to a 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the European Cup final.
Key players in this side included Des Bremner, Peter Withe and Gordon Cowans. Barton remained in
charge until the summer of 1984, when he was sacked after a disappointing season which had seen
the club finish 10th in the First Division. His successor was Graham Turner who had taken Shrewsbury
Town from being Fourth Division strugglers into being an established Second Division side. Turner was
sacked in September 1986 and his successor Billy McNeill was unable to save the club from finishing
bottom of the First Division and being relegated - just five years after Villa had been champions of
Europe.

McNeill left in the summer of 1987 to become manager of Celtic. Villa chairman Doug Ellis gave the
manager's job to Graham Taylor, who had transformed the fortunes of Watford in 10 years of
management. A significant addition to the Villa squad was attacking midfielder David Platt, a 21-year-
old signing from Crewe Alexandra for £200,000. Platt was instrumental in getting Villa back into the
top flight at the first time of asking as they finished Second Division runners-up in 1988.

Villa narrowly avoided relegation from the First Division in 1989 but in 1990 they surprised everyone
by finishing runners-up to Liverpool in the First Division. Taylor left shortly afterwards to replace
Bobby Robson as England manager, but Taylor would eventually be villified by the British press for his
failures as national coach. Villa meanwhile appointed Czech coach Jozef Venglos as their new manager
- the first time that a foreign manager had taken charge of a top division club.

The 1990s: more mixed fortunes

Jozef Venglos spent one season as manager of Aston Villa (1990-91). He stepped down after they
finished just two places above the First Division relegation zone and David Platt was sold to Italian
side Bari for £5 million. Aston Villa's new manager was Ron Atkinson, who had achieved considerable
success with West Bromwich Albion, Manchester United and more recently Sheffield Wednesday. He
spent heavily, making expensive additions to the squad including Earl Barrett, Dean Saunders, Dalian
Atkinson, Kevin Richardson, Ray Houghton and Shaun Teale. The policy nearly paid off in 1993 when
Aston Villa finished runners-up to Manchester United (Atkinson's old club) in the inaugural Premier
League. Villa gained their revenge over United with a 3-1 League Cup final victory the following
season (which prevented United from winning a unique domestic treble) but Villa's league form
slipped and they finished tenth in 1994.

Atkinson was sacked in November 1994 with Villa battling relegation, just 18 months after they had
almost won the league. His successor Brian Little did well to keep a demoralised team in the
Premiership and in the summer of 1995 reshaped the squad by selling most of the club's older players
and buying in many younger players. New arrivals included Alan Wright, Gary Charles, Ian Taylor,
Mark Draper, Savo Milosevic, Gareth Southgate and Tommy Johnson. Several home grown players
were also progressing well, especially striker Dwight Yorke and defender Ugo Ehiogu.

Aston Villa made huge progress in 1995-96 under Brian Little. They won the League Cup, reached the
FA Cup semi finals and finished fourth in the Premiership. Dwight Yorke was now established as a
world class striker and other players like Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate were already gaining
international recognition. Villa qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1996 and again in 1997, without making
any real progress, and Little resigned in February 1998 with Villa 15th in the Premiership and with
relegation looking a real possibility.

Little's successor John Gregory, a former Aston Villa coach who had left to take charge of Wycombe
Wanderers 18 months earlier, revitalised the club's fortunes and they finished seventh in the
Premiership and qualified for the UEFA Cup; due to the progress of other teams in the top seven it
was the first time that a seventh placed club has automatically qualified for the UEFA Cup.

Despite the £12.6million sale of Dwight Yorke to Manchester United in August 1998, John Gregory had
guided Aston Villa to the top of the Premiership by the middle of the 1998-99 season. New signings
Paul Merson and Dion Dublin were proving to be worth the money, while 18-year-old defender Gareth
Barry was easily the most competent young player in the Premiership that season. But Villa's form
slipped during the final weeks and they finished sixth - not even enough for a UEFA Cup place.
Recent years

Recent years have seen more 'average' performances from Aston Villa. They did reach the FA Cup
final in 2000 (for the first time since 1957), but lost 1-0 to Chelsea. Gregory quit the club in January
2002 and chairman Doug Ellis made a surprise decision to appoint Graham Taylor as manager for the
second time. Villa finished the 2001-02 season in eighth place, which was similar to most of their
other Premiership finishes. But a 16th place finish in the 2002-03 Premiership campaign saw Taylor
quit as manager and make way for ex-Leeds United manager David O'Leary.

After a poor start to the season, O'Leary transformed the team's fortunes and by Spring 2004 they
were in contention for a UEFA Champions League place. But a 2-0 home defeat against Manchester
United saw them finish sixth in the Premiership and narrowly miss out on a UEFA Cup place.
Nevertheless, such an improvement in league form reflected well on how David O'Leary had
rejuvenated the club's fortunes. By February 2005, they were mid-table in the Premiership, and due
to injuries to key players finished tenth, missing out on qualification for the 2005-06 UEFA Cup.

Current key players in the Aston Villa side include international players such as Juan Pablo Angel and
Olof Mellberg. Patrik Berger has joined the club after signing on a free transfer from Portsmouth F.C.
in the 2005 close season. Other new acquisitions include Aaron Hughes, Stuart Taylor, Wilfred Bouma,
strikers Milan Baros and Kevin Phillips who scored respectively on their league debuts. Villa suffered
embarrassment in the summer of 2005, though, as former Villa player Peter Crouch moved from
Southampton to Liverpool in July 2005 for a fee of £7 million, only 12 months after leaving Villa for £5
million less. Liam Ridgewell, Steven Davis, Luke Moore and Peter Whittingham are among several
promising young players from the FA Youth Cup-winning team in 2002 that have made their mark on
the senior team.

Pacy striker Darius Vassell moved to Premiership side Manchester City on 27 July, 2005, for a
reported fee of £2 million, and was replaced within a month by Euro 2004 Golden Boot winner Milan
Baros, who arrived from Liverpool for a fee of £6.5 million (with a further £0.5 million dependent on
appearances). Influential winger, Nolberto Solano left the club prior to the transfer deadline to return
to Newcastle United. James Milner was a part of the transfer and is on loan at the club for the
2005/2006 season.

Club Honours


Titles                            Year
European Cup                      1982
European Super Cup                1983
Inter-Toto Cup                    2001
FA Cup                            1887, 1895, 1897, 1905, 1913, 1920, 1957
League Cup                        1961, 1975, 1977, 1994, 1996
First Divison Champions           1893-1894, 1895-1896, 1896-1897, 1898-1899, 1899-
                                  1900, 1909-1910, 1980-1981
Second Division                   1937-1938, 1959-1960
Third Division                    1971-1972
FA Youth Cup                      1972, 1980, 2002


Club Colours

The club colours are claret top with sky blue sleeves, white shorts with claret and blue trim, sky blue
socks with claret and white trim. They were the original wearers of these famous colours and due
mainly to their success in the early years of the football league, other teams, notably West Ham and
Burnley, adopted the same colours.

Managers


 No     Name                                Year
        George Ramsay (Secretary)           Aug 1884 - May 1926
        W J Smith (Secretary)               August 1926 - May 1934
  1     Jimmy McMullan                      June 1934 - October 1935
  2     Jimmy Hogan                         November 1936 - September 1939
  3     Alex Massie                         August 1945 - August 1950
  4     George Martin                       December 1950 - August 1953
  5     Eric Houghton                       September 1953 - November 1958
  6     Joe Mercer                          December 1958 - July 1964
  7     Dick Taylor                         July 1964 - May 1967
 8      Tommy Cummings                    July 1967 - November 1968
 9      Tommy Docherty                    December 1968 - January 1970
 10     Vic Crowe                         January 1970 - May 1974
 11     Ron Saunders                      June 1974 - February 1982
 12     Tony Barton                       February 1982 - June 1984
 13     Graham Turner                     July 1984 - September 1986
 14     Billy McNeill                     September 1986 - May 1987
 15     Graham Taylor                     May 1987 - July 1990
 16     Jozef Venglos                     July 1990 - May 1991
 17     Ron Atkinson                      July 1991 - November 1994
 18     Brian Little                      November 1994 - February 1998
 19     John Gregory                      February 1998 - January 2002
 20     Graham Taylor                     February 2002 - May 2003
 21     David O'Leary                     May 2003 - Present


Notable Players


Year    Names                              Year     Names
1880s   Archie Hunter (Forward),           1950s    Vic Crowe (Midfielder)
        George Ramsay (Forward)                     Stan Lynn (Defender)
        Howard Vaughton (Forward)                   Johnny Dixon (Forward)
                                                    Peter McParland (Forward)
                                                    Nigel Sims (Goalkeeper)
1890s   Charlie Athersmith (Winger)        1960s    Charlie Aitken (Defender)
        James Cowan (Midfielder)                    Tony Hateley (Forward)
        John Devey (Forward)                        Gerry Hitchens (Forward)
        Howard Spencer (Defender)
1900s   Joe Bach (Forward)                 1970s    Andy Gray (Forward)
        Harry Hampton (Forward)                     Ray Graydon (Forward)
                                                    Brian Little (Forward)
1910s   Sam Hardy (Goalkeeper)             1980s    Des Bremner (Midfielder)
        Clem Stephenson (Forward)                   Gordon Cowans (Midfielder)
                                                    Allan Evans (Defence)
                                                    Colin Gibson (Defence)
                                                    Tony Morley (Midfielder)
                                                    Dennis Mortimer (Midfielder)
                                                    Nigel Spink (Goalkeeper)
                                                    Peter Withe (Forward)
1920s   Frank Barson (Midfielder)          1990s    Tony Daley (Midfielder)
        Tommy Smart (Defence)                       Dion Dublin (Forward)
        Billy Walker (Forward)                      Paul McGrath (Defender)
                                                    Paul Merson (Midfielder)
                                                    David Platt (Midfielder)
                                                    Gareth Southgate (Defender)
                                                    Steve Staunton (Defender)
                                                    Ian Taylor (Midfielder)
                                                    Andy Townsend (Midfielder)
                                                    Dwight Yorke (Forward)
1930s   Frank Broome (Forward)             2000s    Milan Baros (Forward)
        Eric Houghton (Forward)                     Olof Mellberg (Defender)
        Tom 'Pongo' Waring (Forward)                Juan Pablo Angel (Forward)
                                                    Darius Vassell (Forward)
1940s   Danny Blanchflower (Midfielder)
        George Cummings (Defender)
        Trevor Ford (Forward)
        Harry Parkes (Defender/Utility)


Appearance Records


 No     Name                               Appearances
  1     Charlie Aitken                         660
  2     Billy Walker                           531
  3     Gordon Cowans                          528
  4     Joe bache                              474
  5     Allan Evans                            469
  6     Nigel Spink                            460
  7     Tommy Smart                            452
    8       Johnny Dixon                           430
    9       Dennis Mortimer                        406
    10      Billy George                           402


All Time Leading Goalscorers


    No      Name                                 Goals
     1      Billy Walker                          244
     2      Harry Hampton                         242
     3      John Devey                            187
     4      Joe Bache                             185
     5      Eric Houghton                         170
     6      Tom ‘Pongo’ Waring                    167
     7      Johnny Dixon                          144
     8      Peter McParland                       120
     9      Billy Garraty                         112
    10      Dai Astley                            100
    11      Len Capewell                          100
    12      Dwight Yorke                          97




Other Items of Interest

Aston Villa's current home venue is Villa Park having previously played at Aston Park (1873-1876) and
Perry Barr (1876-1897). They have a training ground at Bodymoor Heath in north Warwickshire.

Aston Villa is one of four English teams that have won the European Champions Cup. They did so in
1982 on May 26 in Rotterdam, beating Bayern Munich 1-0 thanks to Peter Withe's 67th minute goal.

In February 2005 Aston Villa was named in the top 20 richest clubs in the world in terms of income.

Famous Aston Villa Fans


        Tom Hanks
        Nigel Kennedy
        Ocean Colour Scene
        Ozzy Osbourne
        Iain Duncan Smith
        Prince William
        Mark Williams
        Benjamin Zephaniah
        Ravinther Kunju Raman

				
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