Of boots and balls and celebrated football goods…

IMPORTANT: In consequence of unprincipled Firms offering Worthless imitations of my CELEBRATED McGREGOR FOOTBALL GOODS I am compelled to warn my customers that none are genuine unless stamped with my Registered Trade Mark.

A letter from G. B. Ramsay to Arthur Loach, 15 September 1886

Dear Sir
I am very sorry you did not turn up for training, please try and do so tomorrow Thursday. Our Trainer is on the ground from 6 till 9 o’clock and besides I would like to see you. I hope you have your new boots. You have been selected to play for us on Saturday at Perry Barr v Druids. Kick-off 3.30 pm prompt. Please be early and oblige.
Yours sincerely
Geo B Ramsay

A letter from G. B. Ramsay to Fred Dawson, 17 September 1886

Dear Sir
A short time ago you told me you had a new ball belong to the Villa. Will you kindly send it down by Saturday. I will depend upon it and do try your very best to play on Monday.

Noted accomplishments

If you are a collector of ephemera then this item may interest you – an Aston Villa Football Club letterhead produced for use in the first decade of the 20th century.

It’s printed in three colours, predominately blue, but a second shade of blue is used for the club crest and also what now appears to be a discoloured gold ink.

Shown right is a better example of the crest’s colours from a version of the club’s letterhead used 50 years later: light blue, embossed in a gold colour.

Notice the telegraph address – Villa, Birmingham – used by the club for communication. No email in those days! No mention of Villa Park, either. The registered office is Aston Villa Grounds.

Ramsay less than impressed

Here’s the front and back view of Aston Villa’s fixture card for season 1889-90. It shows the club’s reserve team fixtures and was printed by John Gateley, a letterpress printer whose company was located in Weaman Street (where the Birmingham Mail offices are now.). In 1891 John Gateley was living in Grosvenor Road, Handsworth, with his wife and two servants. He was also a season-ticket member of the club.

George Ramsay, the Villa Secretary once wrote to Gateley – in March 1887 – complaining about some posters he printed for the club and said this:

“I have just seen the Port Vale Bills which are not to order and the Committee have refused to accept them. You must therefore print anotheer 100 in the proper diamond form. Last time you printed across the diamond I told your people how disappointed we were and that we would never have any more done that way. If you were trying to save time we would rather wait a couple of days than put out such an abominably ugly thing. I have told Smart to return them. Please do the others at once. Yours Geo. B. Ramsay”

E. Smart was an employee of Gateley. Two months earlier Ramsay issued another complaint via Smart:

“Can I depend on you having about half a dozen Bills for January 8th match pasted about the ground next Saturday, 3 on the back of the big stand, 3 in the road, 2 at Bowan’s Corner. In explanation to my last card your son tells me Mr Gateley told him he had no Bills left. This was not true as I saw Gateley thereafter who told him to come back in a few minutes and he would have them ready and they were lying there for him. Besides if he could not get them he should have let me know at the time. I hope it will not occur again or I will get some one else to do it that I can depend on. If you cannot do it this week let me know at once.”

Lacking discipline

A letter from G. B. Ramsay to A. Brown, 15 September 1886

Albert Brown.
Notice the cigar butt in his right hand.
And he’s not wearing football boots!

Dear Sir
I am much disappointed and the Committee annoyed at your not turning up to Training last night, as you promised me you would, and they hope you will go down regularly every Tuesday and Thursday in future. I have also been told that your Boots are not fit to play with, and must request you to get another pair at once. I have also heard expressions from the Committee to the effect that you don’t seem to work very agreeably with Rich Davis when he is your partner, and they hope you will try to improve this point which will be to the further interests of both of you. I hope you will give this your earnest attention, as all are on the look to make any improvement whatever, towards the better making of the Team in view of the great match we have before us. You have been selected to play on Saturday at Perry Barr, kick-off 3.30 prompt.
Yours etc
Geo B Ramsay
Manager