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Author Topic: They passed this way but once  (Read 728 times)

Online dave.woodhall

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They passed this way but once
« on: October 04, 2020, 12:05:19 PM »
All the machinations at the foot of the fourth division means that there are now several clubs that Villa have never played in league competition but I thought I would concentrate on those we have actually only met once.





First up, because I would not want to upset the populace of north Derbyshire, is Glossop. Which begs the question - who else knew that Glossop was in Derbyshire? Anyway, Glossop became an unlikely addition to the second division when it was expanded in 1898. As is the way of these things in their first season they immediately won promotion, finishing runners-up to Manchester City and avoiding the test matches which had been abandoned as part of the expansion deal. As indicated by the nature of this article their seasons in the top flight was to be short-lived, namely the minimum.

It did not help that their first away game was at the home of the champions and would-be champions. They went home shell-shocked, the recipients of a nine goal thrashing. But to the amazement of the entire footballing community Glossop ran out winners by the only goal when it came our turn to visit their meadow. They scored an early goal and held on like grim death.

This was not enough to save them from an instant return to the second tier, where they continued to flounder about in the bottom half of the table until they finished last in the wartime season. Whereupon economics took a hand and owing to their very limited fan base they were unable to sustain a top class club and so resigned from the league.

Next up are Stockport County, who were not even waiting for us when we relinquished our place at the top table in 1936 and embarked on a tour of some of the outposts of English soccer. While we were failing to win the second division at the first time of asking they were winning the third division north. So shortly before Christmas 1937 they arrived at Villa Park hopeful of an early gift. They went home empty-handed, Shell-shocked. Literally.





Frank Shell, playing only his second game in the colours, staked his claim for a permanent spot with a hat-trick. But it was a short-lived fame, a one-season wonder.  An end of season 3-1 win at Edgeley Park sealed their fate and their destiny to remain in the shadow of the Manchester twins while we were simultaneously winning promotion.


Another excursion into the second division enables Scunthorpe and Lindsay United to feature in this article. Like Stockport County they earned their mention by winning the third division north whilst at the same time we were dragging Portsmouth down with us.

Every Villa supporter knew that Scunthorpe played in claret and blue – or thought they did. Colours they had chosen in their early days because they wanted to emulate the famous Aston Villa.’ They arrived at Villa Park at a very bad time for them. We were cresting waves having just beaten Charlton Athletic 11-1 and had won 5-0 at Bristol City.  Goals were the order of the day and goals we got although some were disappointed at the final tally of just 5-0





Scunthorpe was not an easy place to get to by train from New Street, so British Railways abandoned the idea of trying to cater for the hordes of Villa supporters now on the glory trail and we were obliged to fall back on Stockland coaches. I have no recollection as to whether Scunthorpe actually played in claret and blue but think not. Instead, they quickly change their colours to red because with the demise of the Villa they now wanted to emulate not Manchester United but Liverpool, the new kids on the block.

The game at Scunthorpe will forever be remembered thanks to the munificence of manager Joe Mercer. The following week Villa were due to play in an FA Cup semi-final at the Hawthorns against Wolves. Tickets were going on sale at Villa Park next day. Seeing the crowd of Villa supporters outside the Old Show Ground Joe came over and said that if everyone would be there after the game he would give them a voucher to allow them to avoid the queue in Trinity Road next day. We wondered how he would achieve this promise.

True to his word, after another two goal virtuoso performance by Gerald Archibald Hitchens (2-1) Joe came along with some vouchers he had purloined from the home club and everyone went home more than happy.

Lincoln City might justifiably have preceded Scunthorpe in this one off tale, but like Northampton Town who come next they have previously featured in H&V as being amongst the four teams ‘we couldn’t beat’ and I try not to repeat myself. Hesitation and deviation are fine but the editor rightly draws the line at repetition.





So I am left with Gillingham. They were already waiting for us when set out to visit pastures new. They only just made it by the skin of their teeth, only just avoiding the drop into the fourth division. An unwanted fate that was to await them at the end of this campaign so they never got to appear when we stayed around for a second session in the third tier. Two goals in the first four minutes at Villa Park was sufficient to put an end to any dreams they had of success though they did pull one back

Gillingham on a Wednesday night was no easier to get to than Scunthorpe on a Saturday, so why bother? We were still licking our wounds after our disappointing League Cup final loss to Tottenham at Wembley. A drab goalless stalemate did not improve matters – and Halifax, who were above us at the time and stayed there, were up next. We said goodbye to the last place Gills.

John Russell

Online Brazilian Villain

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Re: They passed this way but once
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2020, 12:36:06 PM »
Very interesting stuff with yet another mention of Glossop on H&V.

Never knew Firewall FC were once known as Scunthorpe and Lindsey United nor that they had switched from claret & blue to Man U red in 1969 before seeing the light in 1982/83 (presumably because we'd now won the European Cup). Historical kit gloryhunters!

Offline dave shelley

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Re: They passed this way but once
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2020, 12:46:35 PM »
I was at that 5-0 against Scunthorpe and also the 11-1 vs Charlton.  As an aside, some years ago a young lad at work approached me and asked where Scunthorpe was, I told him and asked the inevitable question: why?  He said he was looking for a team to support and liked the name.  Kudos to him for refusing to become a glory hunter.

Not too long after he asked me where he could get a Scunthorpe shirt from, I said he'd have to get one from their club shop as he'd have. Better chance of finding hen's teeth.  How do I do that was the next question?  I explained and then he asked if I had one?  Long story short, I bought it for him and he paid me and off he went so if any of our Irish posters see a bloke walking around in a Scunthorpe shirt, it can only be him.

Online Brazilian Villain

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Re: They passed this way but once
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2020, 12:52:46 PM »
Not too long after he asked me where he could get a Scunthorpe shirt from, I said he'd have to get one from their club shop as he'd have. Better chance of finding hen's teeth.  How do I do that was the next question?  I explained and then he asked if I had one?  Long story short, I bought it for him and he paid me and off he went so if any of our Irish posters see a bloke walking around in a Scunthorpe shirt, it can only be him.

Not the ending I foresaw. I thought you were going to give him a Villa shirt as it was also claret & blue and convert him to the cause.

Some people are just perverse. A guy in my course at Uni in the 80s was from Dundalk and had decided to support Rangers. 

Offline selly park trinity

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Re: They passed this way but once
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2020, 03:43:39 PM »
Jesus! A brave/stupid thing to do around there!

 


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