The thing with supporting the Villa is that the club is steeped in folklore, whether it be stories of gas lamps, the melting down of a lost FA Cup trophy or a star inter-war forward keeping chickens in his front room. The list can go on and on, but the story about Charlie Athersmith and an umbrella is something I thought I could actually look up and see if was true or not.
Below is a few newspaper snippets regarding the league game at Wellington Road on Monday 12/11/1894 vs Sheffield United (Villa won 5-0).
Basically the local Birmingham papers failed to mention Athersmith running down the wing with the umbrella. However, the local Sheffield papers clearly states that it did happen.
A Match Summary:
Apparently, it was a little bit chilly and a little bit wet!
Early in the second half United went down to 10 men (Villa winning 1-0 at the time).
Shortly afterwards, they went down to 9, then 8, then 7 men.
We then started to rotate our players in order for them to have a warm drink from the trainer on the touchline (apart from poor old Tom Wilkes who was in goal, however someone from the crowd gave him an umbrella for his trouble).
With the lack of numbers in the United attack, Jimmy Welford left his full back position and joined in the forward line.
Jack Devey decided the best course of action was to reappear wearing an overcoat. Alas, this didn’t last long. The overcoat wasn’t claret and blue and so the skipper had to continue without it.
Athersmith did indeed start playing down the wing with an umbrella in hand. However, he didn’t manage to get himself on the scoresheet.
Just before the end the United goalie, Fatty Foulkes, got injured so they finished the game with 6 men. Foulkes had to be carried from the field (all 20+ stone of him).
After the match, our Charlie, despite the use of the umbrella, was overcome in the changing tent and fainted.