The Cup that was lost forever

There’s a mischievous old taunt which says that Aston Villa have lost the FA Cup more often than neighbours Birmingham City have won it. The claim is true. But the joke merely covers a historical blemish on the club’s conscience. Aston Villa DID lose the Cup. And they never got it back.

More than a century ago, in season 1894-95, Villa won the English Cup by beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at Crystal Palace, but on the night of September 11, 1895 it was stolen from a window of football outfitter W. Shillcock in Newtown Row, Birmingham. The Cup was never recovered, no culprits were apprehended, and a replacement trophy was produced.

Before agreeing to loan the trophy to Shillcock’s, the Villa directors had given the Football Association a guarantee of £200 against theft. To cover this they had taken out a movable policy for the same amount so that it was covered while on public display. Shillcock had also insured the Cup against theft for the same amount.

Villa were subsequently fined £25 by the FA for losing their English Cup, the same amount it cost the FA to have a new one made by Vaughton’s of Birmingham (the family firm of Howard Vaughton, the former Villa and England player). The original Cup had been manufactured by Martin Hall & Co for around £20.

At one time, because of the high value of insurance, it was proposed having the replacement made in gold. This would suggest that certainly Villa and the FA went ‘past go’ and collected their £200 insurance claim when the original Cup was stolen.

source: Claret & Blue magazine, Number 11, January 1995.

When every penny counted

In these days of multi-million pound budgets set by football clubs and vast salaries paid to their players, this early Aston Villa balance sheet summarising the 1877-78 season is a fascinating insight to the finances of a fledgling football club. The report is provided by E. B. Lee, both a playing member of the club and its financial secretary.

Bearing in mind that the season was effectively only its third, the club was already running two teams, first and second.

Gentlemen, I have much pleasure in laying before you a BALANCE SHEET of the ASTON VILLA FOOTBALL CLUB for the Season 1877-78

Although there appears on the Statement a small balance in your favour, the Club is still in debt £4 4s. for printing expenses not yet paid. On the other hand, since the accounts were audited, I have received a little over £1 for ticket money from the Sheffield Heeley match, and shall no doubt shortly receive more, as there are tickets out, not yet accounted for. There are also outstanding subscriptions to the amount of £1 5s.

No doubt the slight deficiency stated above is accounted for in the improvements which have been effected on the ground, staking, roping etc., and also in the great expense gone to in arranging some very important matches, which are certainly for the advantage of the Club in a playing point of view, and probably in a financial one in regard to next season.

I am, Gentlemen, Yours faithfully, EDMUND BOTTERILL LEE, Financial Secretary