True colours

During its formative years Aston Villa Football Club took the field in various colours and styles. Seemingly the norm was to use the team strip for a couple of seasons and then change to new colours and another style.

The transition to claret and blue began in season 1885-86 when the club colours were described by secretary George Ramsay as Coral and Mauve jerseys. In the Alcock Annual for the same season Villa’s colours are listed as Coral and Maroon. As to the style, club captain Archie Hunter, referred to it as “the piebald uniform which was inartistic and never popular.”

In November 1886, the team switched to wearing a vertical-striped jersey, described in the club minutes as Chocolate and Light Blue, although one newspaper report noted the Chocolate colour as Cardinal [Red]. The team continued wearng these striped jerseys and colours until the end of 1887-88, as confirmed by team photographs and the mention of Chocolate and Blue in the Alcock Annual of 1887 as Villa’s colours for that season.

Aston Villa team group taken in November 1886 (notice the leaves on the ground) to unveil the club’s new shirts. (Standing) Joe Gorman, Frank Coulton, James Warner, Fred Dawson, Albert Allen, Joey Simmonds. (Seated) Richmond Davis, Albert Brown, Archie Hunter, Howard Vaughton, Dennis Hodgetts. (Ground) Harry Yates, Jack Burton.
Aston Villa in striped shirts with their trophies on display to complete the 1887-88 season. (Standing) Tom Vaughton, Philip Clamp, Albert Brown, Isaac Whitehouse, Harry Devey, William McGregor, Joshua Margoschis, James Warner, Alfred Albut, Albert Allen, William Cooke, George Ramsay, Dennis Hodgetts, J. Vickerstaffe, Joe Gorman. (Seated) Dr Vincent Jones, Frank Coulton, Fred Dawson, Archie Hunter, Harry Yates, Jack Burton, Gershom Cox, Henry Jefferies.

It was at a General Meeting of Aston Villa on June 2, 1888, when members voted and defined the official club colours. Rule 3 stated: The Club Colours shall be CLARET and LIGHT BLUE.

An item in the Club Minutes, August 17, 1888, made mention of an order for new jerseys: Resolved we have 1 dozen new jerseys, Club Colours but in quarters. Quotations from Gr[?] and Mr McGregor.

Ten days later another mention of new jerseys appeared in the minute book: Quotations not having been received, it was decided that they are not now obtained. Resolved instead of Jerseys we have Shirts, the Club Colours in quarters and same be had of Mr McGregor.

Aston Villa 1888-89

This historic team photograph, the first ever depicting the official club colours of Claret and Blue, was taken on June 22, 1889. The two trophies are the Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity Cup and the Birmingham Senior Cup. The lineup is: (Back row) Frank Coulton, Harry Devey, James Warner, Harry Yates, Gershom Cox, Fred Burton, Joe Gorman. (Front row) Arthur Brown, Albert Allen, Archie Hunter, Dennis Hodgetts, Bartholomew Garvey.

Special thanks to Vic Garvey, grandson of ‘Bat’ Garvey, for the use of this picture.

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