Modern fans might not be fully aware of the historical giants that are Aston Villa. Founded in 1874 in the Aston area of Birmingham by four cricketers at a nearby Wesleyan chapel, the club swiftly became a force to be reckoned with, going on to dominate the Victorian Era of English football. By the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, they had won no fewer than five league titles and three FA cups in quick succession.
The team’s famous Villa Park stadium can claim several accolades of its own. Since its creation in 1876, the ground has hosted World Cup and European Championship games, as well as more FA Cup semi-finals than any other venue. It is without doubt one of the most historic football grounds in the country and indeed the world, and its famous Holte End still acts as a twelfth man for the Villans to this day. The nickname “The Villans” comes from the large villa which once stood in the area. It was a landmark of substantial enough size to give the district its name. The now antiquated nickname of “The Lions” was derived from the club’s crest, which continues to sport a yellow lion over a sky blue background. Aston Villa are the fifth most decorated club in the history of English football, with 19 major domestic honours to their name including seven league championships. They also remain one of just five English clubs to have won the UEFA European Cup/Champions League, lifting the trophy in 1982 under the stewardship of manager Tony Barton and captain Dennis Mortimer. They have had mixed fortunes in the Premier League era but can still be proud of their status as one of the clubs which founded the league in 1992. On top of that, aside from a three year hiatus between 2016-2019, they have been perpetual mainstays at the top level. This is something that Villa fans are only too happy to gleefully point out to their fierce local rivals Birmingham City. In the eyes of many, Villa’s most consistent period in recent memory came under the leadership of Martin O’Neill between 2006-2010. Along with modern day club greats like Gareth Barry, Olof Mellberg and local lad Gabriel Agbonlahor, the Northern Irishman led the team to three successive sixth-place finishes, a marked improvement on the mid table mediocrity they had become used to in seasons past, narrowly missing out on UEFA Champions League qualification several times. Today, under the tutelage of current manager Dean Smith and his assistant John Terry, the side play an exciting brand of football and after beating Liverpool 7-2 back in October, it is little wonder that millions of people are tuning in to watch them on live TV and streaming services every week.