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A-Z of West Midlands Football

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 03, 2013

  • George Burrell Ramsay

  • Fred Ramscar

  • Villa's double winning team of 1896-7

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GEORGE BURRELL RAMSAY was born in March 1855 in Glasgow and was 80 when he died in Llandrindod Wells in October 1935.

Secretary-manager of Aston Villa during the most successful period of the club's history, his record of six League Championships is second only to Sir Alex Ferguson and his record of six FA Cup victories as manager is still standing.

George, in fact, was a very talented footballer, with terrific dribbling skills and ball control who played briefly for Rangers (juniors) and Oxford FC, and worked as an office clerk in a Birmingham brass foundry before signing for Villa (after a trial) in August 1876.

Always seen wearing a polo cap on the pitch, he was named captain of the team and starred in many local competitions, helping Villa win their first-ever trophy, the Birmingham Senior Cup in 1880. Unfortunately a knee injury ended his career in June 1882. He remained with the club and two years later became secretary-manager, serving in that capacity until 1926.

In addition to the introduction of a radical change in playing style, George, along with John Lindsay, discovered Villa's Wellington Road ground in Perry Barr and was also responsible for the recruitment of the legendary Archie Hunter.

George then oversaw Villa's move to the Aston Lower Grounds, next to Aston Hall and this was later renamed as Villa Park (1897). In fact, he was the first man to kick a ball on Villa's current ground!

Although the Villa team was selected by a Committee each week, which included William McGregor, founder of the Football League in 1888, it was George who made all the major decisions!

George officially retired at the age of 71 and was immediately made an honorary advisor and a vice-president of the club. His association with Villa lasted 59 years, a time which will always be known as the club's 'Golden Age'. He was presented with two Long Service medals by the Football League (1909 and 1927).

Subsequently laid to rest at St Mary's Church, Handsworth, his gravestone reads "Founder of Aston Villa".

FRED RAMSCAR was born in Salford near Manchester in January 1919. An inside-forward, he represented Salford Boys' Club and was an amateur with both Manchester City and Stockport County before being whisked away as a 20 year-old to fight in WW2 in France and Germany. On his return to the UK, in August 1945, he immediately signed for Wolves. He stayed at Molineux for two years, scoring once in 17 outings before moving to QPR in October 1947.

After his spell at Loftus Road, he assisted Preston North End (November 1949, when he linked up with Tom Finney at Deepdale), Northampton Town (from July 1951), Millwall (signed in September 1954), Peterborough United and finally Wellingborough, retiring in 1960.

As a 16 year-old Fred was offered a contract by Manchester United but chose to stay at Edgeley Park instead! It is believed he died circa 1992.

SIR ALF RAMSEY was born in Dagenham, Essex in January 1920 and died following a heart attack in an Ipswich hospital in April 1999. A very efficient right-back, he played for Portsmouth (as an amateur), Southampton (for six years: 1943-49 – making over 100 appearances) and Tottenham Hotspur; also for six years, 1949-55 – having 254 starts. He also gained one 'B' and 32 full caps for England.

After retiring he managed Ipswich Town for nearly eight years (up to 1963), guiding the Tractormen to the First Division title in their first season in the top Division.

Alf then became manager of England, a position he held for 11 years, until 1974. He guided his country to a 4-2 World Cup final victory at Wembley Stadium in 1966 – the only man to achieve this feat so far – and in recognition of his achievement was knighted in 1967.

In January 1976, Sir Alf was appointed a director of Birmingham City and from September 1977 until the summer of 1978, he acted as team manager at St Andrew's, leaving his position due to poor health.

In tribute to his achievements, Ipswich Town commissioned a life-size statue of him which is positioned directly in front of the club's ground, Portman Road.

ARTHUR RANDLE was a very astute and capable right-half who some believe should have played for England. He starred in 143 League and Cup games for West Bromwich Albion (two goals scored) between April 1901 and May 1908 when he left The Hawthorns for Leicester Fosse.

Born in West Bromwich in December 1880, Arthur attended and played for Springfield School and was registered with Lyng Rovers, Oldbury Town and Darlaston before joining the Baggies who he helped with the 1902 Second Division Championship and reach the FA Cup semi-final five years later. He retired as a player in May 1912 (due to cancer) and sadly died a year later, in September 1913, in a Coventry hospital. He was just 32.

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