Then and Now At Villa (12)
Let The Lion Stand Proud!
There was a time when R-R wasn't only the acronym for Rolls-Royce. It also stood for Rinder-Ramsay, who were the 'Rolls Royce' partnership of the day in football management terms.
Both these gentlemen were involved in Aston Villa until their deaths. George Ramsay's deep involvement with the Villa lasted for 60 years (1875-1935), while Rinder was involved for 57 years (1881-1938) but he only became well known over 10 years after first becoming a member of the club. From 1893 to 1925, these two were the main driving force in the club's management, and immediately from the time Rinder had a senior role, the club took off and dominated the world of association football at club level. Furthermore, after effectively being ousted in 1925, Rinder was called back when Villa's status was reduced by relegation in 1936. Aged 78, he immediately set off to Europe sign up a new team manager, the then famed Jimmy Hogan, and died on Christmas Day, 1938 having seen his beloved club brought back into the top flight and with players that were a credit to the club.
But since Rinder's death Aston Villa has seen virtually no-one on the board of directors that has been able to measure up to his understanding of what is needed to even begin to restore Aston Villa back to greatness. Yes, between 1969 and 1982 there was a further marvellous resurrection of the club, but it can be argued that those achievements were more to do with the club being carried forward on a wave of pent-up emotion: in 1982, and despite its then recent great successes, the club was substantially in debt and haemorrhaging badly. Cue the return of Doug Ellis to bring back financial control but also a more limited vision and the reduction of the club to the backwaters since the start of the Millennium. And a state of affairs today when we're back to the status of affairs prevalant at the end of Ellis's reign.
ASTON VILLA. As John Gregory famously and proudly said, there's a symmetry in those two 5-letter words. The club's name once stood as the finest - the Rolls-Royce (another two words of 5 letters!) - of what was best in football. Aston Villa was once the most famous football club in the world and until 1982 it stood a good chance of re-claiming that status as it's lead as the nation's biggest winner of domestic trophies had only just been overtaken by Liverpool. And Villa had just become only the fourth English club to win the European Cup.
The restoration of Aston Villa to anything near top status will today require a club owner with a combination of sound business skills, a real affinity with football and a substantial amount of money. And, probably, his acceptance that he's not going to make personal profit out of his investment. It's not like the situation in Rinder's day, but it does require leadership of the kind that Rinder possessed. Restoration of the club cannot be expected to take place overnight, and the FFR situation rather points (in my opinion) to the need for Villa to re-build from grass roots. The club does have a good infrastructure for youth development, though it requires a greater throughput of Premier League talent. We have had too many players come through who promised much in their early years (the Moore brothers etc.) but then fell away.
But building from youth was the way that the club, under Rinder, re-built itself after 1900 when Villa's old stars retired. And when a young player didn't come through to fill a particular spot, then the club went out and bought the needed player. And there was always a careful blend of young and experienced players. It was a commonsense approach that worked. And it can work again. Someone has to develop new players as future stars, so why not Aston Villa?
The Lion can, and will, roar again!
Up the Villa!
For more history and stats , why not visit John's history site: www.lerwill-life.org.uk/astonvilla/. Further, why not enjoy an in-depth read of Villa's history? Click here for more info.