Aston Villa have a lot to show to prove that they are a big club in English football. If seven FA Cups and five League Cup titles aren’t enough, the Villains have won seven First Division titles and also have one European Cup to their name.
As things stand, they seem close to an unlikely trophy win. After having beaten Leicester City in the semi-final of the League Cup, they will meet Manchester City in the final of the competition as they aim to make it six titles in history.
While the bettors can certainly bet against Pep Guardiola’s men winning, it won’t be a straight-forward task for Dean Smith’s men at all. Especially considering how they lost 6-1 too them in the Premier League not too long ago, betting against City seems like a rather ambitious task – but leading online bookmaker silentbet.com are offering the best odds on a Villa win. Never say never.
Betting against Villa will be a more viable option, but it would be worth pointing out a time when Villa actually lost the cup. They didn’t lose the final. In fact, they did win the final, but the trophy was officially declared lost mere days after it was won.
It was way back in 1895- when the game was in the pre-mature years of professionalism that the game was still growing. It was only 21 years after Villa was founded by four members of the e Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel in Birmingham. Interestingly enough, the club’s first game against an Aston Brook St. Mary’s side saw the first-half get played under Rugby rules. Only the second-half was contested under Football Association rules.
In the Victorian age, Villa were one of the most successful clubs in England. They won as many as five first division titles, also racking up a total of three FA Cups. One of these FA Cups was their title win in 1895.
In this period of domination, Villa would win trophies on a consistent basis. The structure of the FA Cup competition was very much different back then to how it is today. It did start from the preliminary round, but went on till the fourth round qualification stage. Once that was over, teams would take part in the tournament from First Round Proper Round. What would today be the quarter-final was then known as the Third Round Proper. This was followed by the semi-final and then the final.
The First Round proper would have 32 teams and the elimination would go onto be similar to how it is today.
During that season, Villa were managed by the hugely successful George Ramsay. The Scotsman is known to be one of the greatest managers in English football history, let alone the club’s history. He was one of the chief reasons why the club gained so much success in the Victorian era.
The club was on the chase for its third English title in the 1894-95 season, but was pipped to it by Sunderland. In what a 16-team table, Villa finished third behind the Black Cats and Everton. The Toffees had finished only five points behind Sunderland, with Villa finishing eight points behind the outfit from the north of the country.
The disappointment saw Villa give their all in the cup. Ramsay was desperate to win it and in what was a rather up and down tournament for them, they amassed two huge wins. One came against Nottingham Forest, with another coming against Newcastle by a 7-1 margin.
Like it was meant to be, Villa had to lock horns with Sunderland themselves in the semi-finals of the competition. On the 16th of March 1895, both sides took to the Ewood Park Pitch in a competitive tie in Lancashire. Villa did emerge as the winners, but another potentially frenetic tie awaited them in the final.
Unlike Villa, West Bromwich Albion had won all their games by a slim margin. Be it Small Heath, Sheffield United, Wolves or the Wednesday, all the wins game by a one-goal margin. While that was in stark contrast to that of the Villains, it was meant to be a huge Midlands derby anyway.
In another fiercely contested tie, Villa came out on top. While it wasn’t a comfortable win by any means, but a first-minute strike from wing-half Bob Chatt saw them win the game. Chatt’s goal came in the 30th minute- a record that stood for the next 114 years till the 2009 FA Cup final.
Ramsay had done it again. Villa didn’t go the season trophyless. Well, technically they didn’t. But they literally, they did go trophyless.
After the trophy celebrations were done and the trophy was passed throughout the Villa area of Birmingham, it was reserved a spot in a sports shop in Aston. But days later, it went missing. It was believed that a burglary had taken place on the night of the 10th of September that year and the trophy was nowhere to be seen on the 11th of the month.
No trace of where the trophy went was found. There were no arrests and zero suspicions of who could have taken it away. Villa did get a new trophy, but the mystery remained unsolved for the next 60 or more years.
It was in February 1958 though, a man called Henry James Burge came out and said that he had committed the thievery back in 1895. An article from the Sunday Pictorial carried an article about him and had Burge showing exactly how the burglary had taken place. He revealed that the FA Cup trophy was melted during the robbery to make them into fake crowns.
Inconsistencies were spotted later in what Burge said and what the shop owner had seen. And in the end, efforts to find the trophy didn’t lead to anything conclusive. Whoever was to find the trophy would have got a reward of £10, but the money came straight back to the authorities.
Aston Villa owners, in fact, had to pay £25 to make up for the lost trophy. What happened to the trophy is still unknown. Burge was never arrested and neither were his claims ever taken seriously. But he was found guilty for housebreaking and was sentenced to two years’ probation in 1957- it was found. Months after he had made the claims, Burge was sentenced to a seven-year-long preventive detention for stealing cars.
This was a case that was never seen again. And perhaps, will never be seen in the future ether. But that is what makes this story unique.