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From the Archives: Hampton and Benteke up front? Ouch!
A look at 'Happy' Harry Hampton.
5th Dec 2012
From the Archives: Hampton and Benteke up front? Ouch!


Brown

Christian Benteke has already proven his worth to the Villa faithful with his strong, powerful style, bossing the opposition backlines with ease.

It's hard to think of a modern-day player to rival the awesome attributes he brings but if you go back in claret and blue history there's one man who stands out, head and shoulders above the others.

That's 1900s ace 'Happy' Harry Hampton, who terrorised defences in the decade before World War One.

One publication of the time summed his game up best: "Hampton has absolutely no fear, such is his determination to score. If the goalkeeper gets in the way, then that is his bad luck."

Another writer commented: "Hampton has a penchant for the opposing goalkeeper and likes to have a game of roly-poly with him somewhere in the region of the back netting."

Can you imagine an all-time Villa team, featuring Benteke and Hampton in the forward positions? It doesn't bear thinking about!

With an impassive face and the cold eyes of an assassin, Hampton terrorised defences and goalkeepers with his fearless style.

In the days when barging goalkeepers was lawful he would often throw himself head first and knock them into the back of the net.

Naturally, the fans loved his reckless approach.

His fame spread when, at Stamford Bridge in 1913, he charged Scotland goalkeeper James Brownlie over the line with the ball in his hands for the only goal of the match to give England the International Championship.

But it wasn't all power, as Hampton had a good touch, playing long passes out to the wings and running on to take the crosses and anything else that got in his way.

Indeed, as John Lerwill points out in the 'Aston Villa Chronicles', Hampton was included as a mere 20-year-old in the renowned four-volume 'Association Football and The Men Who Made It' publication, which came out in 1905.

There was a three-page section about Hampton, saying: "He does not make sensational dribbles but he is always lying in wait, ready for the ball to come into the centre. Then he takes it on the run and goes straight for the goal with it.

"He turns neither to his right hand nor to his left. It is his business to get the ball between those posts he sees in front of him. With that view in end he goes straight on and if he gets a fair chance of shooting, the odds are that he scores.

"He has that indescribable dash which no man seems able to acquire unless nature had planted the instinct in him."

He joined Villa from Wellington Town in Shropshire in 1904.

He came to spearhead an exciting and entertaining Villa side, with quick sharp forwards in Joseph Walters, Edmund Eyre, Alistair Wallish and Walter Gerrish.

"The Villa forwards are too clever for us, they danced and jigged around us and made us look laughing stocks," said English McConnell of Sheffield Wednesday after a heavy defeat in which Harry scored a hat-trick.

They started the decade as champions in 1900 and ten years later were champions again, the last time for 70 years.

Villa won the FA Cup in 1905 and 1913 and Harry gained four England caps.

But he is best remembered for his goalscoring, as Villa's greatest league scorer with 215, only a couple less in all competitions than Billy Walker.

He played on after the Great War despite suffering badly in a gas attack on his platoon. He moved to Birmingham City in 1920 and helped them to the Second Division title and eventually played for Newport before he settled in retirement. He died in March 1963 but his legend lives on.

Benteke and Hampton in the same team? God help the opposition!

Snap up your tickets and back the boys against Stoke.

Jackson

 

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