“A new and pretty costume”

Aston Villa 1883-84 – (Standing) Fred Dawson, Unknown, Albert Brown, Eli Davis, Tom Riddell, Joey Simmonds. (Seated) Edmund Lee, Alf Harvey, Unknown, Archie Hunter, Howard Vaughton.

This rare Aston Villa team photograph was taken at the end of the 1883-84 season and features some of the players who helped the club retain the Birmingham Senior Cup and also the Mayor of Birmingham Charity Cup.

There is evidence that Villa may have used three different kits during the season. Although it might be assumed that the shirts in the photograph represent the traditional claret and blue colours associated with the club, this is not so. They are two shades of green!

Villa had started the 1883-84 campaign wearing the blue and white hooped shirts that the club had switched to two seasons before. The team also used black jerseys for some games, possibly to avoid any clash with the colours worn by the opposition.

Villa first turned out in their two-tone green shirts for the match against Wednesbury Town, played at Perry Barr on Monday, March 24, 1884. This is confirmed by a note in the Aston Villa Minutes Book.

March 17, 1884 – Shirts: Mr McGregor seconded proposal of Mr Mason “That the trainer has charge of the new shirts and that they be used for Monday next”. Black Jerseys to be used for Saturday next.

The first newspaper reference to Vila’s new colours was recorded in the Daily Gazette on Monday, April 7, in the report for the Birmingham Charity Cup match between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion played at the Lower Grounds on the previous Saturday. Villa were described as being “attired in a new and pretty costume”.

The question of new shirts and colours was raised at a Committe meeting on February 4, 1884. The Minutes Book records that “eventually Messrs McGregor, Archie Hunter and O. W. Whateley were appointed a Sub Committee to arrange and report at a future meeting”.

Two weeks later, on February 13, “Mr McGregor showed several sets of colours – in combinations of two – and eventually after inspection it was agreed upon proposition of Mr Jefferies, seconded by Mr Bowen, to have two Greens”.

Excellent graphic examples of Aston Villa’s colours and kit styles through its history can be viewed at the Historical Football Kits website.

5 thoughts on ““A new and pretty costume”

  1. What a great find, I’ve never see this photo before!
    As Arthur Brown is missing, I’d suggest its the 1884 Birmingham Charity Cup Final (Villa won 3-2 against WOA).
    Looks like Alf Harvey is seating next to Teddy Lee. In-between him and Archie Hunter is probably Olly Whateley. The chap with the long neck will be Tom Riddell.

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  2. The other player will be George Price (generally referred as Richard Price in the complete record books). Its just a question of which is Price and which is Whateley.

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    • I don’t see Whateley on the group. What about David Anderson as the player seated on Hunter’s right, and Billy Roberts standing next to Dawson on the back row?

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      • Billy Roberts is a possibility, but he didn’t play in the BCC final of 1884.
        Anderson’s last season with the Villa was 1882-83.
        I think further investigation is needed!

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