Article by Footymad
Updated Tuesday, 23rd October 2001
In the winter of 1873/4, the cricketers of Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel, Aston, Birmingham, formed a football club to provide recreation during the winter period.Their first game was against Aston Brook St. Mary's Rugby team when they played one half rugby and one half association football. In 1876 George Ramsay was appointed captain and he led Aston Villa to football prominence during the next decade.
The club played its first matches in what is now known as Aston Park. In 1876, Villa moved to the Perry Bar suburb of Birmingham. They played on a field rented from a local butcher for £5 per annum.
The club were founder members of the Football League in 1888 and enjoyed a great deal of early success. They won the F.A. Cup in 1887 and 1895, as well as winning the League title in 1894 and 1896.
The Perry Barr ground witnessed one of the earliest incidence of football hooliganism when Villa played Preston North End in the FA Cup. The crowd invaded the pitch on two separate occasions this led to Villa's expulsion from the competition.
1897 saw Villa building its own stadium at Aston Lower Grounds on the site of an old Victorian amusement park. Further success followed when Villa became the second club to complete the Double in 1897.
They also won the Championship again in 1899, 1900 and 1910. Unfortunately the next major trophy win did not arrive until 1957 when they won the F.A. Cup again. They did not win the League title again until 1981 though they followed up by winning the European Cup in 1982 thanks to a Peter Withe goal in the final against Bayern Munich.
Villa triumphed in the League Cup in both 1994 and 1996 with great victories against Manchester United and Leeds United at Wembley.
In 1999-2000 season Villa fought their way through to their first FA Cup final in over forty years before losing to Chelsea. In the process they became the leading FA Cup goalscorers. The game was part of history as it was the last ever F.A. Cup match to be played at the old Wembley stadium.