Shown above is an early mention of Aston Villa’s nickname – the Villans – in a report of their match against Stafford Road that was published in the Midland Athlete, dated February 23, 1881.
An earlier mention of the nickname, but spelt “Villains”, appeared in the same journal – published November 17, 1880 – in the report for Villa’s away match against Notts Forest: “…but the attempt was frustrated by Simmonds, and the “Villains” coming down the right wing in pretty style…”
The “Villans” nickname was also given to another team at the time, known as Perry Villa. It’s recorded in a report – again in the Midland Athlete – for their match against Basford Rovers, a club from Nottingham. The match was played at Perry Barr on Saturday, December 17, 1881.
The ‘Villans’ nickname became the basis for a popular character developed by cartoonists during later decades. The cigarette card illustration shown above is a typical example.
During the time Villa’s home ground was at Wellington Road, in Perry Barr, the team was also given the nickname: “Perry Barr Pets”.