From the Archives: What's in the name Aston Villa?
There's just something exceedingly magical about the name - Aston Villa.
But where did it come from?
Well, the area of Lozells where Villa Road, Lozells Road and Heathfield Road joined was known as "Aston Villa" - so-called after a large Georgian house of that same name, which stood at the junction of Lozells Road and Heathfield Road.
The house eventually became the "Villa Cross" pub and the original building was replaced by a new pub in 1937.
But backtracking a little, in 1850 the "Aston Villa Wesleyan Chapel" came to be established close-by the house and this was followed by a more substantial building in 1865.
From here a cricket club was started in 1872 followed two years later by the football club.
It's amazing to think that all these years later, the name conjures up such delightful emotions.
Whitehead, author of the book Children of the Revolution, put "the beautiful name" in his list of 50 things that make the club special.
He wrote: "There are loads of Uniteds, lots of Citys and Towns, a goodly sprinkling of Wanderers and Rovers and even a few Albions.
"But there is only one Villa - the greatest name in football in every sense.
"John Gregory, our former manager, had an eye for the populist quote and never more so than when he said: "There's an aura about this club, a sense of history and tradition. Even the name is beautifully symmetrical, with five letters in each word."
"He's right, too. Just try writing it down now in upper and lower case. Aston Villa - heartstoppingly lovely."
The chance switching-on of his hotel television while promoting his latest blockbuster in the capital led to megastar Hanks's love of our glorious club.
He explained to Paul Lambert pitchside before the Portland Timbers friendly this summer: "The first time I was in London promoting a movie - around 24 years ago - I saw the football scores on BBC One. It was the morning before I was due to leave.
"There were loads of teams I had never heard of before - Stoke City and Wolverhampton Wanderers were certainly two of them.
"Then, all of a sudden, Aston Villa came up. I thought - what a lovely name.
"Some reporter asked me later that day if I liked football. I took him by surprise when I said: "Yes, I love that Aston Villa!" Once you declare your allegiance you stick with it all the way."
Child, meanwhile, whose Jack Reacher-inspired books have sold millions worldwide, has been hooked on Villa since the early 1960s, yet he might easily have supported Albion.
He continued: "Where I lived was almost equidistant between The Hawthorns and Villa Park. I was about eight or nine and I had a friend called David Harris. He and his dad were Baggies fans.
"There was a run of games where David's dad was working overtime on Saturday afternoons so I used his season ticket.
"On my third or fourth visit it was Albion v Villa and there was just something about Villa that captured my imagination. The name. And they were like a swaggering bunch of pirates!
"From that point Villa were the team for me and I went to Villa Park all the way through primary school and high school."
Our 1957 FA Cup winning skipper Dixon famously wrote to the club asking for a trial - and he admitted some years later that it was the name which enticed him.
He added: "It was the name Aston Villa that made me write to the club for a trial. Nothing to do with anything else, just the name."
That's not all either. Not many clubs feature in the work of Nobel prize-winning playwrights, but - as I have explained - the Villa are not just any club.
Harold Pinter's 1960 play The Dumb Waiter features a conversation between Gus and Ben about a visit to Birmingham.
Gus gets excited about the possibility of going to see "the Villa" the next day until Ben tells him that they are away from home.
Gus recalls - somewhat hazily, this is Pinter, remember - a previous visit to Villa Park and a match settled by a disputed penalty for the visiting team.
Ben: Didn't touch him! What are you talking about? He laid him out flat!
So there you have it. Villa - beautiful name, magical club.
Make sure you're here to back the boys against Norwich City.
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