Joshua Evan Margoschis (known to his friends as JEM) was born in Poland in 1847. In his twenties he emigrated to England, lodged with a Mrs Smith in Leamington Spa and subsequently married her daughter. The couple then moved to Birmingham to open a cigar shop in Constitution Hill, not far from the site of Wiliam McGregor’s drapery in Summer Lane. The cigar shop became known as “The Same Old Spot”. Margoschis also worked part-tme as a representative for the MItchells and Butler brewery.
As a football enthusiast he became friendly with the Aston Villa football club secretary George Ramsay who, recognizing his talents and enthusiasm, invited Margoschis to become a member of the Aston Villa committee. He was given the post of personnel officer, where his kindness, generosity and understanding of the problems of football players proved invaluable.
He could, however, deal firmly with any person who transgressed on and off the field of play and always let it be known that sportsmanship above everything else was the first requirement of anyone who wished to play for the club. Furthermore, on the rare occasions of dissent within the management of the club, JEM was always there with his charm and smiling manner to iron out these difficulties. He was also the first to volunteer to arrange fund-raising schemes to help deserving causes.
In the early days Villa had no proper headquarters so players, the press and others made frequent visits to the tobacconist shop to gossip and learn the latest team news.
JEM’s enthusiasm for the game and Aston Villa was best illustrated in the FA Cup Final of 1887 when the club won the trophy for the first time. With five minutes to go, Villa were leading West Bromwich Albion 1-0 when Archie Hunter scored the second and decisive goal. This prompted the normally staid JEM and William McGregor to throw their hats into the air and dance the fandango around the press table.
Ten years later, Margoschis had been appointed club chairman by the time Villa won ‘the double’ and to commemorate the even the club presented him with an inscribed gold medal.
In 1918 Mr Margoschis completed forty years valued service for the club, but died a year later. This Aston Villa lost one of the greatest servants and best friends the club ever had.
• Derrick Spinks