Birmingham Sports History Part 1
Sports in Birmingham part 1
This is such a huge topic that we’ll just concentrate on the main football teams for now.
These are… West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Walsall Town. Fierce rivalry exists, especially between the top four who regularly play each other in emotion charged, feisty “derby” games.
Each club has a long and illustrious history.
Birmingham City Football Club is based in Small Heath, Birmingham, England. Formed in 1875. It was called Small Heath Alliance. The name was changed in the late 1880s (1888) to just Small Heath. In 1905 they became plain Birmingham before becoming Birmingham City in 1943.
They were the first ever champions of the Football League Second Division, when they were called Small Heath. Really, their golden period was the nineteen fifties and early nineteen sixties. In 1956, they finished 6th in the First Division (now called the Premiership). The also fought their way to the Football Association (FA) cup final in 1956. They also reached the final of the intercity Fairs Cup (which became the Cup Winners Cup and then the Europa League) in both 1960 and 1961. They also won their first high level trophy (League Cup) in 1963. They beat their fiercest city neighbours Aston Villa in a second city derby over two legs three goals to one. They won it a second time in 2011, beating overwhelming favourites Arsenal with a last grasp goal.
They have been at their present home ground, St Andrews, since 1906. It’s unusual as the “home end” is actually at the side of the ground. Known as the Blues (due obviously to the blue coloured shirts they play in). Their biggest rivals are the “Villains”, Aston Villa Football club).
In 1874, four members of the Handsworth Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel, Frederick Matthews, Walter Price, Jack Hughes, and William Scattergood formed the football club. The first match was pretty unique. They played Aston Brook St Mary’s Rugby team. The match had to be played under two different sets of rules. The first half was played under Rugby rules and the second under football rules!
The first trophy of note was the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1880, just four years after moving to their new ground at Wellington Road. In 1899, they won both the First Division and the Sheriff of London Charity Shield (this was shared with the then Queens Park). More was to come though. In 1887 they won the first of many FA Cup Final victories. To date, they have won it seven times as well as being one of only five English clubs to win the ultimate trophy, the European Cup / Champions League. They were also one of the twelve founder members of the original Football League, back in 1888. They won the League and Cup Double in 1897, the same year that they moved to their present home (officially called Aston Lower Grounds). Of course, everyone calls it Villa Park. Well that is enough for now. In part two we’ll talk about West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Walsall Town. We may even cover Sutton town (Sutton Coldfield) and Solihull Moors (Solihull). You’ll find more about Birmingham sporting history here.