Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Aston Villa Football Club


Aston Villa Football Club (/ˈæstən ˈvɪllə/; also known as Villa, The Villa, The Villans and The Lions)[4] is an English professional association football club based in Witton, Birmingham. The club was founded in 1874 and have played at their current home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa were founder members of The Football League in 1888. Sony VAIO PCG-3B1M Battery

They were also founder members of the Premier League in 1992, and have remained there ever since.[5] The club was floated by the previous owner and chairman Doug Ellis, but in 2006 full control of the club was acquired by Randy Lerner.

They are one of the oldest and most successful football clubs in England, having won the First Division Championship seven times and the FA Cup seven times. Sony VAIO PCG-3C1T Battery

Villa also won the 1981–82 European Cup, and are thus one of five English clubs to win what is now the UEFA Champions League.[7] Aston Villa has the fourth highest total of major honours won by an English club.[6] They have a fierce local rivalry with Birmingham City. The Second City derby between Aston Villa and Birmingham City has been played since 1879. Sony VAIO PCG-3D1M Battery

The club's traditional kit colours are claret shirts with sky blue sleeves, white shorts and sky blue socks. Their traditional badge is of a rampant gold lion on a light blue background with the club's motto "Prepared" underneath; a modified version of this was adopted in 2007. Sony VAIO PCG-3G2M Battery

Aston Villa Football Club was formed in March 1874, by members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Handsworth which is now part of Birmingham. The four founders of Aston Villa were Jack Hughes, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price and William Scattergood.Aston Villa's first match was against the local Aston Brook St Mary's Rugby team. Sony VAIO PCG-5R1M Battery

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.[11]Villa soon established themselves as one of the best teams in the Midlands, winning their first honour, the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1880, under the captaincy of Scotsman George Ramsay. Sony VAIO PCG-7141M Battery

The club won its first FA Cup in 1887 with captain Archie Hunter becoming one of the game's first household names. Aston Villa were one of the dozen teams that competed in the inaugural Football League in 1888 with one of the club's directors, William McGregorbeing the league's founder. Sony VAIO PCG-7143M Battery

Aston Villa emerged as the most successful English club of the Victorian era, winning no fewer than five League titles and three FA Cups by the end of Queen Victoria's reign.[13] In 1897, the year Villa won The Double, they moved into their present home, the Aston Lower Grounds.[14] Supporters coined the name "Villa Park"; no official declaration listed the ground as Villa Park.[15] Sony VAIO PCG-7151M Battery

Aston Villa won their sixth FA Cup in 1920, soon after though the club began a slow decline that led to Villa, at the time one of the most famous and successful clubs in world football, being relegated in 1936 for the first time to the Second Division. This was largely the result of a dismal defensive record: Sony VAIO PCG-7154M Battery

they conceded 110 goals in 42 games, 7 of them coming from Arsenal's Ted Drake in an infamous 1–7 defeat at Villa Park.[16] Like all English clubs, Villa lost seven seasons to the Second World War, and that conflict brought several careers to a premature end.[17] The team was rebuilt under the guidance of former player Alex Massie for the remainder of the 1940s. Sony VAIO PCG-7162M Battery

Aston Villa's first trophy for 37 years came in the 1956–57 season when another former Villa player, Eric Houghton led the club to a then record seventh FA Cup Final win, defeating the 'Busby Babes' of Manchester United in the final.[18] The team struggled in the league though and were relegated two seasons later, due in large part to complacency. Sony VAIO PCG-7181M Battery

However, under the stewardship of manager Joe Mercer Villa returned to the top-flight in 1960 as Second Division Champions. The following season Aston Villa became the first team to win the Football League Cup.[19]

Mercer's forced retirement from the club in 1964 signalled a period of deep turmoil. Sony VAIO PCG-41112M Battery

The most successful club in England was struggling to keep pace with changes in the modern game, with Villa being relegated for the third time, under manager Dick Taylor in 1967. The following season the fans called for the board to resign as Villa finished 16th in the Second Division. With mounting debts and Villa lying at the bottom of Division Two, Sony VAIO PCG-7153M Battery

the board sacked Cummings (the manager brought in to replace Taylor), and within weeks the entire board resigned under overwhelming pressure from fans.[20] After much speculation, control of the club was bought by London financier Pat Matthews, who also brought in Doug Ellis as chairman.[20] However, new ownership could not prevent Villa being relegated to the Third Division for the first time at the end of the 1969–70 season. Sony VAIO PCG-71312M Battery

However, Villa gradually began to recover under the management of former club captain Vic Crowe. In the 1971–72 season they returned to the Second Division as Champions with a record 70 points.[21] In 1974 Ron Saunders was appointed manager. His brand of no-nonsense man-management proved effective, with the club winning the League Cup the following season and, at the end of season 1974–75, he had taken them back into the First Division and into Europe. Sony VAIO PCG-7144M Battery

Villa were back among the elite as Saunders continued to mould a winning team. This culminated in a seventh top-flight league title in 1980–81. To the surprise of commentators and fans, Saunders quit halfway through the 1981–82 season, after falling out with the chairman, with Villa in the quarter final of the European Cup. Sony VAIO PCG-7191L Battery

He was replaced by his softly-spoken assistant manager Tony Barton who guided the club to a 1–0 victory over Bayern Munich in the European Cup final in Rotterdam courtesy of a Peter Withe goal. The following season Villa were crowned European Super Cup winners, beating Barcelona in the final. Sony VAIO PCG-3C1M Battery

This marked a pinnacle though and Villa's fortunes declined sharply for most of the 1980s, culminating in relegation in 1987.[23] This was followed by promotion the following year under Graham Taylor and a runners-up position in the First Division in the 1989–90 season.[24]

Villa were one of the founding members of the Premier League in 1992, and finished runners-up to Manchester United in the inaugural season. Sony VAIO PCG-3F1M Battery

For the rest of the Nineties however Villa went through three different managers and their league positions were inconsistent, although they did win two League Cups and regularly achieved UEFA Cup qualification. Villa reached the FA Cup final in 2000 but lost 1–0 to Chelsea in the last game to be played at the old Wembley Stadium. Sony VAIO PCG-3H1M Battery

Again Villa's league position continued to fluctuate under several different managers and things came to a head in the summer of 2006 whenDavid O'Leary left in acrimony.[27] After 23 years as chairman and single biggest shareholder (approximately 38%), Ellis finally decided to sell his stake in Aston Villa due to ill-health. Sony VAIO PCG-3J1M Battery

After much speculation it was announced the club was to be bought by American businessman Randy Lerner, owner of NFL franchise the Cleveland Browns.The arrival of a new owner and of manager Martin O'Neill marked the start of a new period of optimism at Villa Park and sweeping changes occurred throughout the club including a new badge, a new kit sponsor and team changes in the summer of 2007. Sony VAIO PCG-8141M Battery

The first Cup final of the Lerner era came in 2010 when Villa were beaten 2–1 in the League Cup Final.[30] Villa made a second trip to Wembley in that season losing 3–0 to Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinal. Just five days before the opening day of the 2010–11 season, O'Neill resigned as manager with immediate effect. Sony VAIO PCG-8161M Battery

Reserve team manager Kevin MacDonald took over as caretaker manager,[32] before the club appointed Gérard Houllier as permanent manager in September 2010.[33] Houllier stepped down on 1 June 2011,[34] and was replaced by Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish, despite numerous protests from fans against his appointment. Sony VAIO PCG-3C2M Battery

This was the first time that a manager had moved directly from Birmingham to Villa.[35] McLeish only lasted eleven months in charge, his contract was terminated at the end of the 2011–12 season, that saw Villa finish in 16th place, only just above the relegation zone.[36]

On 28 February 2012, the club announced a financial loss of £53.9 million. Sony VAIO PCG-5N2M Battery

The club colours are claret shirt with sky blue sleeves, white shorts with claret and blue trim, and sky blue socks with claret and white trim. They were the original wearers of the claret and blue. Villa's colours at the outset generally comprised plain shirts (white, grey or a shade of blue), with either white or black shorts. Sony VAIO PCG-5P1M Battery

For a few years after that (1877–79) the team wore several different kits from all white, blue and black, red and blue to plain green. By 1880, black jerseys with a red lion embroidered on the chest were introduced by William McGregor. This remained the first choice strip for six years.

The chocolate colour later became claret.[38] Nobody is quite sure why claret and blue became the club's adopted colours.[38] Sony VAIO PCG-5S1M Battery

A new badge was revealed in May 2007, for the 2007–08 season and beyond. The new badge includes a star to represent the European Cup win in 1982, and has a light blue background behind Villa's 'lion rampant'. The traditional motto "Prepared" remains in the badge, and the name Aston Villa has been shortened to AVFC, FC having been omitted from the previous badge. Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1M Battery

The lion is now unified as opposed to fragmented lions of the past. Randy Lerner petitioned fans to help with the design of the new badge.[9] On 2 June 2008 it was announced that Aston Villa would forgo commercial kit sponsorship for the 2008–09 season; instead they would advertise the charityAcorns Children's Hospice, the first deal of its kind in Premiership history. Sony VAIO PCG-7171M Battery

The partnership continued until 2010 when a commercial sponsor replaced Acorns, with the hospice becoming the club's Official Charity Partner.

Aston Villa's current home venue is Villa Park, which is a UEFA 5-star rated stadium, having previously played at Aston Park (1874–1876) and Perry Barr (1876–1897). Sony VAIO PCG-7186M Battery

Villa Park is the largest football stadium in the English Midlands, and the eighth largest stadium in England. It has hosted 16 England internationals at senior level, the first in 1899, and the most recent in 2005. Thus, it was the first English ground to stage international football in three different centuries. Sony VAIO PCG-81112M Battery

Villa Park is the most used stadium in FA Cup semi-final history, having hosted 55 semi-finals. The Club have planning permission to extend the North Stand; This will involve the 'filling in' of the corners to either side of the North Stand. If completed, the capacity of Villa Park will be increased to approximately 51,000. Sony VAIO PCG-31311M Battery

The current training ground is located at Bodymoor Heath in north Warwickshire, the site for which was purchased by former chairman Doug Ellis in the early 1970s from a local farmer. Although Bodymoor Heath was state-of-the-art in the 1970s, by the late 1990s the facilities had started to look dated. Sony VAIO PCG-8152M Battery

In November 2005, Ellis and Aston Villa plc announced a state of the art GB£13 million redevelopment of Bodymoor in two phases. However, work on Bodymoor was suspended by Ellis due to financial problems, and was left in an unfinished state until new owner Randy Lerner made it one of his priorities to make the site one of the best in world football. Sony VAIO PCG-31111M Battery

The new training ground was officially unveiled on 6 May 2007, by then manager Martin O'Neill, then team captain Gareth Barry and 1982 European Cup winning team captain Dennis Mortimer, with the Aston Villa squad moving in for the 2007–08 season. Sony VAIO PCG-61111M Battery

The first shares in the club were issued towards the end of the 19th century as a result of legislation that was intended to codify the growing numbers of professional teams and players in the Association Football leagues. FA teams were required to distribute shares to investors as a way of facilitating trading among the teams without implicating the FA itself. Sony VAIO PCG-51112M Battery

This trading continued for much of the 20th century until Ellis started buying up many of the shares in the 1960s. He was chairman and substantial shareholder of "Aston Villa F.C." from 1968–1975 and the majority shareholder from 1982–2006. The club wasfloated on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 1996, and the share price fluctuated in the ten years after the flotation. Sony VAIO PCG-51211M Battery

In 2006 it was announced that several consortia and individuals were considering bids for Aston Villa.[44]

On 14 August 2006, it was confirmed that Randy Lerner, owner of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns, had reached an agreement of £62.6 million with Aston Villa for a takeover of the club. Sony VAIO PCG-51212M Battery

A statement released on 25 August to the LSE announced that Lerner had secured 59.69% of Villa shares, making him the majority shareholder. He also appointed himself Chairman of the club.[45] In Ellis's last year in charge Villa lost £8.2m before tax, compared with a £3m profit the previous year, and income had fallen from £51.6m to £49m. Sony VAIO PCG-41111M Battery

Lerner took full control on 18 September, as he had 89.69% of the shares. On 19 September 2006, Ellis and his board resigned to be replaced with a new board headed by Lerner.[44] Lerner installed Charles Krulak as a non-executive director and Ellis was awarded the honorary position of Chairman Emeritus. Sony VAIO PCG-41111V Battery

Aston Villa has a unique relationship with the Acorns Children's Hospice charity that is groundbreaking in English football.[46] In a first for the Premier League, Aston Villa donated the front of the shirt on their kit, usually reserved for high-paying sponsorships, to Acorns Hospice so that the charity would gain significant additional visibility and greater fund raising capabilities. Sony VAIO PCG-61412V Battery

Outside of the shirt sponsorship the club have paid for almost 300 national days of hospice care for the charity as well as regularly providing player visits to hospice locations.

In September 2010, Aston Villa launched an initiative at Villa Park called Villa Midlands Food (VMF) where the club will spend two years training students with Aston Villa Hospitality and Events in association with Birmingham City Council. Sony VAIO PCG-71112M Battery

The club will open a restaurant in the Trinity Road Stand staffed with 12 students recruited from within a ten-mile (16 km) radius of Villa Park with the majority of the food served in the restaurant sourced locally.

Aston Villa have a large fanbase and draw support from all over the Midlands and beyond, with supporters clubs all across the world. Sony VAIO PCG-81111V Battery

Former Villa chief executive Richard Fitzgerald has stated that the ethnicity of the supporters is currently 98% white. When Randy Lerner's regime took over at Villa Park, they aimed to improve their support from ethnic minorities. A number of organisations have been set up to support the local community including Aston Pride.[50] Sony VAIO PCG-81111V Battery

AVilla in the Community programme has also been set up to encourage support among young people in the region.[51] The new owners have also initiated several surveys aimed at gaining the opinions of Villa fans and to involve them in the decision making process. Meetings also occur every three months where supporters are invited by ballot and are invited to ask questions to the Board.[52] Sony VAIO PCG-81212M Battery

In March 2011, the club supported a supporter-based initiative for an official anthem in order to boost the atmosphere at Villa Park. The song "the Bell's Are Ringing" is to be played before and after games.

Like many English football clubs Aston Villa has had several hooligan firms associated with it: Sony VAIO PCG-81212V Battery

Villa Youth, Steamers, Villa Hardcore and the C-Crew, the last mentioned being very active during the 1970s and 1980s. As can be seen across the whole of English football, the hooligan groups have now been marginalised.[53]In 2004 several Villa firms were involved in a fight with QPR fans outside Villa Park in which a steward died.[54] Sony VAIO PCG-51111M Battery

The main groupings of supporters can now be found in a number of domestic and international supporters' clubs. This includes the Official Aston Villa Supporters Club which also has many smaller regional and international sections.[55] There were several independent supporters clubs during the reign of Doug Ellis but most of these disbanded after his retirement.[45] Sony VAIO VPCS13X9E/B battery

The club's supporters also publish fanzines such as Heroes and Villains and The Holy Trinity.

Aston Villa's arch-rivals are Birmingham City, with games between the two clubs known as the Second City Derby.[8] Historically though, West Bromwich Albion have arguably been Villa's greatest rivals, a view highlighted in a fan survey, conducted in 2003.[56] Sony VAIO VPCS12V9E/B battery

The two teams contested three FA Cup finals in the late 19th century. Villa also enjoy less heated local rivalries with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Coventry City. Through the relegation of West Brom and Birmingham to The Championship in the 2005–06 season in the 2006–07 Premiership season Villa were the only Midlands club in that League. Sony VAIO VPCS12V9E/B battery

The nearest opposing team Villa faced during that season was Sheffield United, who played 62 miles (100 km) away in South Yorkshire.[57] For the 2010–11 season, West Bromwich Albion were promoted and joined Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Birmingham City in the Premier League. Sony VAIO VPCF13M8E/B battery

This marked the first time that the "West Midlands' Big Four" clubs have been in the Premier League at the same time, and the first time together in the top flight since the 1983–84 season. However, Birmingham were once again relegated at the end of the 2010–11 season, meaning they would be playing Championship football the next season. Sony VAIO VPCF13Z0E/B battery

As of the end of the 2010–11 season, Aston Villa have spent 100 seasons in the top tier of English football; the only club to have spent longer in the top flight is Everton, with 108 seasons,[59] making Aston Villa versus Everton the most-played fixture in English top-flight football. Aston Villa are one of an elite group of seven clubs that has played in everyPremiership season, Sony VAIO VPCM13M1E/L battery

the other six being Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. They are fifth in the All-time FA Premier League table, and have the fourth highest total of major honours won by an English club with 20 wins.[6]

Aston Villa currently hold the record number of league goals scored by any team in the English top flight; Sony VAIO VPCM13M1E/W battery

128 goals were scored in the 1930–31 season, one more than Arsenal who won the league that season for the very first time, with Villa runners-up.[60] Villa legend Archie Hunter became the first player to score in every round of the FA Cup in Villa's victorious 1887 campaign. Villa's longest unbeaten home run in the FA Cup spanned 13 years and 19 games, from 1888 to 1901.[61] Sony VAIO VPCF22M1E battery

Aston Villa are one of five English teams to have won the European Cup. They did so on 26 May 1982 in Rotterdam, beatingBayern Munich 1–0 thanks to Peter Withe's goal.

There have been many players who can be called notable throughout Aston Villa's history. These can be classified and recorded in several forms. Sony VAIO VPCF11M1E/H battery

The Halls of Fame and PFA Players of the Year are noted below. As of February 2011, Aston Villa had provided more England internationals than any other club, with 71.[67]Aston Villa have had several players who were one-club men. In 1998, to celebrate the 100th season of League football, Sony VAIO VPCF13M0E/B battery

The Football League released a list entitled the Football League 100 Legends that consisted of "100 legendary football players." There were seven players included on the list who had formerly played for Villa: Danny Blanchflower, Trevor Ford, Archie Hunter, Sam Hardy, Paul McGrath, Peter Schmeichel and Clem Stephenson.[68] Sony VAIO VPCYB2M1E battery

Three Aston Villa players have won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. At the end of every English football season, the members of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) vote on which of its members has played the best football in the previous year. In 1977 Andy Gray won the award. In 1990 it was awarded to David Platt, whilst Paul McGrath won it in 1993. Sony VAIO VPCYB3V1E battery

The PFA Young Player of the Year, which is awarded to players under the age of 23, has been awarded to four players from Aston Villa: Andy Gray in 1977; Gary Shaw in 1981; Ashley Young in 2009 and James Milner in 2010. The National Football Museum in Preston, Lancashire administers the English Football Hall of Fame which currently contains two Villa teams, two Villa players and one manager. Sony VAIO VPCY11M1E battery

The 1890s team and 1982 team were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July 2009. Joe Mercer was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the same time for his career as a manager including his time at Aston Villa.[69] The only two Villa players in the Hall of Fame are Danny Blanchflower and Peter Schmeichel.

In 2006, Aston Villa announced the creation of an "Aston Villa Hall of Fame." This was voted for by fans and to this date there has been one induction of 12 players in 2006. Sony VAIO VPCS12L9E/B battery

A number of television programmes have included references to Aston Villa over the past few decades. In the sitcom Porridge, the character Lennie Godber is a Villa supporter.[71] In the first episode of Yes Minister, Jim Hacker MP says he needs to get off early to watch Aston Villa play. However, in a later episode, he launches a campaign to save his local team, the fictional "Aston Wanderers".Sony VAIO VPCF11S1E/B battery

When filming began on Dad's Army, Villa fan Ian Lavender was allowed to choose Frank Pike's scarf from an array in the BBC wardrobe; he chose a claret and blue one—Aston Villa's colours.[72] The character Nessa in the BBC sitcom Gavin and Stacey was revealed as an Aston Villa fan in an episode screened in December 2009.[73] Sony VAIO VPCYB3V1E/R Battery

Aston Villa have also featured on several occasions in prose. Joseph Gallivan's book "Oi, Ref" is about a referee who is a Villa fan who conspires to turn an FA Cup semi-final in his team's favour.[citation needed] Stanley Woolley, a character in Derek Robinson's Booker shortlisted novel Goshawk Squadron is an Aston Villa fan and names a pre-war starting eleven Villa side. Sony VAIO VPCF23P1E Battery

Together with The Oval, Villa Park is referenced by the poet Philip Larkin in his poem about the First World War, MCMXIV.[74] Aston Villa are also mentioned in Harold Pinter's play The Dumb Waiter.

Villa Park is a football stadium in the district of Witton, Birmingham, England with a seating capacity of 42,788. It has been the home of Aston Villa Football Club since 1897. Sony VAIO VPCF23N1E Battery

The team previously played at Aston Park from 1874 to 1876 and Perry Barr from 1876 to 1897. The ground is less than a mile from both Witton and Aston railway stations and has hosted sixteen England internationals at senior level, the first in 1899 and the most recent in 2005. It was the first English ground to stage international football in three different centuries. Sony VAIO VPCY21S1E/L Battery

Villa Park has hosted more FA Cup semi-finals than any other stadium, having hosted 55 matches in total.

In 1897 Aston Villa moved into the Aston Lower Grounds, a sports ground in a Victorian amusement park situated in the former grounds of Aston Hall, a Jacobean stately home. OSony VAIO VPCY21S1E/G battery

ver the course of its history the stadium has gone through various stages of renovation and development, resulting in the current stand configuration of the Holte End, Trinity Road Stand, North Stand and the Doug Ellis Stand. The club has initial planning permission to redevelop the North Stand, which will increase the capacity of Villa Park from 42,788 to approximately 50,000. Sony VAIO VPCF24M1E battery

Before 1914 a cycling track ran around the perimeter of the pitch where regular cycling meetings were hosted as well as athletic events. Aside from football-related uses, the stadium has seen various concerts staged along with other sporting events including boxing matches and international rugby league and rugby union matches. Sony VAIO VGN-AW110J/H Battery

In 1999, the last ever final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup took place at Villa Park. Villa Park also hosted the 2012 FA Community Shield, as Wembley Stadium was unavailable due to it staging the final of the Olympic football tournament.

The Aston Lower Grounds, later renamed Villa Park, was not the first home of Aston Villa F.C. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H Battery

Their previous venue, the Perry Barr ground faced increasing problems including a lack of access and exorbitant rents.[6][7] As a result, in 1894, Villa's committee began negotiations with the owners of the Aston Lower Grounds, "the finest sports ground in the district."[6] Situated in the former grounds of Aston Hall, a Jacobean stately home,[8] the Lower Grounds had seen varied uses over the years. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B Battery

Originally the kitchen garden of Aston Hall's owner Sir Thomas Holte, the man who gave his name to the Holte End stand, it later became a Victorian amusement park complete with aquarium and great hall. The current pitch stands on the site of the Dovehouse Pool, an ornamental pond drained in 1889. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU/Q Battery

In place of the pool the owners of the Lower Grounds built a cycle track and sports ground that opened on 10 June 1889 for a combined cycling and athletics event that drew an estimated crowd of 15,000.[9] Negotiations continued for two years before the Villa committee reached agreement with the site's owner, Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B Battery

Edgar Flower, to rent the Lower Grounds for £300 per annum on a 21-year lease with an option to buy the site at any point during the term.[10] The committee immediately engaged an architect who began preparing plans for the site, which included construction of a new 440 yards (400 metres) cement cycle track to replace the existing cinder one. Sony VAIO VGN-AW120J/H Battery

The main stand was to be built to the east on the Witton Lane side, with the track and pitch fully enclosed by banking. Construction of the final phase of the stadium began in the winter of 1896 following negotiations with contractors over the price.[11] Several months behind schedule, the almost-complete stadium finally opened on 17 April 1897. Sony VAIO VGN-AW150Y/H Battery

The process of fixing issues with the building work would continue for a number of months thereafter.[12] As built, the stadium could house 40,000 spectators, most of whom would stand in the open on the banking.[8] The first match at the ground, a friendly against Blackburn Rovers, took place on 17 April 1897, one week after Aston Villa had completed the League and FA Cup 'Double'. Sony VAIO VGN-AW160J/Q Battery

After winning the league championship in 1899, Villa's record-breaking average crowd of 21,000[13] allowed the club to invest in a two-stage ground improvement programme. The first stage extended the terrace covering on the Trinity Road side at a cost of £887 while the second cost £1,300 and involved re-laying all terracing around the track to remedy a design flaw that caused poor sightlines for the majority of the crowd. Sony VAIO VGN-AW170Y/Q Battery

In 1911, Villa bought the freehold of the ground for £8,250, the office buildings in the old aquarium and car park area for £1,500 and the carriage drive and bowling green for £2,000.[8] This was the first stage in plans drawn up by ambitious Villa director Frederick Rinder, that would see the capacity of Villa Park increased to 104,000. Sony VAIO VGN-AW180Y/Q Battery

In June 1914, another phase of enhancements began at Villa Park to compete with improvements at other grounds around the country, includingEverton's Goodison Park, where a new two-tiered stand had just been completed. The first stage of improvements saw the cycling track removed, new banking at the Holte Hotel End (Holte End) and a re-profiling of all the terracing to bring it closer to the newly squared-off pitch. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190JAH Battery

Rinder turned to the renowned architect Archibald Leitch to design a new Villa Park. Their joint plans included large banked end stands at the Holte and Witton ends and the incorporation of the original Victorian Lower Grounds buildings, including the aquarium and the newly acquired bowling greens. The outbreak of the First World War severely hampered design and construction efforts.[15] Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NAB Battery

As a result of the worsening economic situation, 1919 quotes for the implementation of the pre-war construction plans came to £66,000, compared to the 1914 quote of £27,000. By March 1922 this price had reduced to £41,775 and the directors pushed ahead with the plans for the new Trinity Road Stand.Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NBB Battery

Construction began in April 1922 with the stand partially opened in August that year. Construction continued throughout the 1922–23 season with the stand officially opened on 26 January 1924 by the then Duke of York, later King George VI. He commented to Rinder that he had "no idea that a ground so finely equipped in every way—and devoted to football—existed."[ Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NCB Battery

On completion the Trinity Road Stand was considered one of the grandest in Britain, complete with stained glass windows, Italian mosaics,Dutch gables in the style of Aston Hall and a sweeping staircase. Several commentators including Simon Inglis consider it to be Leitch's masterpiece, described in 1960 by a Sunday Times reporter as the "St Pancras of football." Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YAB Battery

The final cost of the stand and associated 1922–24 ground developments was calculated at £89,000, a sum that enraged the club's directors who ordered an investigation into cost and in 1925 forced the resignation of Rinder.

Villa Park was to remain in much the same state for another 30 years with no major developments until the late 1950s. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YBB Battery

During the 1930s the earth and timber terraces with wooden crash barriers were completely replaced by concrete terracing and metal barriers, a process first begun by Rinder. In 1936 he was voted back onto the board at the age of 78 after the club were relegated to the Second Division. Nearly 25 years after he had created his 1914 masterplan, Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YCB Battery

Rinder resurrected it and looked to carry out the third phase of his developments. He died in December 1938 after Leitch who had died in April 1938, leaving his construction business to his son, Archibald Junior. The complete redevelopment and extension of the Holte End began in early 1939 supervised by Archibald Junior. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YDB Battery

When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, all construction across the country stopped. Unusually, given the austerity measures in place at the time, Villa acquired a special permit to continue construction of the Holte End; Simon Inglis notes "How they achieved this is not recorded." Sony VAIO VGN-AW220J/B Battery

Work on the ground was completed by April 1940 and the stand was immediately mothballed as Villa Park switched to its war time role. The Trinity Road Stand became an air-raid shelter and ammunition store while the home dressing room became the temporary home of a rifle company from the 9th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Sony VAIO VGN-AW230J/H Battery

German bombs caused £20,000 worth of damage to the Witton Lane Stand, which was not remedied until 1954.[22]

Apart from running repairs and fixing bomb damage, no major projects were undertaken until 1958–59 when four projects were announced. Sony VAIO VGN-AW235J/B Battery

As a result, the old Bowling Green pavilion on the Trinity Road became a medical centre, the basement of the aquarium building was converted into a gym, four large floodlight pylons were installed and a training ground was purchased 500 yards (460 metres) from Villa Park. The floodlights were first used in November 1958 for a friendly match against the Scottish side Heart of Midlothian. Sony VAIO VGN-AW290JFQ Battery

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