Everything you need to know about the home of Aston Villa - Villa Park.
Saturday 17th April 1897
Villa Park is the home stadium of one-time European Cup winners Aston Villa.
It is also one of the most common ‘neutral’ football venues in the country, having hosted more FA Cup semi-finals than any other stadium, due to it being mid-ground between clubs in the North and South of England.
Villa Park was constructed and opened in 1897. Costing £16,733 at the time, this may seem cheap, but it is actually around £25m nowadays.
It replaced their old venue of Wellington Road as it began to fall apart, and is built on the site of an old stately home belonging to Sir Thomas Holte, who the Holte End stand on the south side of the stadium is named after.
The current capacity of Villa Park is 42,682.
Yes, it is the subject of a £100m expansion project, containing a complete redevelopment of the North Stand and upgrades to the Trinity Stand, which will lead to the capacity climbing to over 50,000. On top of this, Aston Villa are creating an inner-city academy as well as a fan zone, commercial destination and high-quality public space around the ground for the community.
Astonishingly, the record attendance at Villa Park is 72,588. This attendance was achieved on the 2nd March 1946, for an FA Cup 6th round tie with Derby County, who won the game 4-3.
The pitch is currently measured at the maximum of UEFA’s regulations, which is 105m x 68m (115yd x 74yd). It has been varied throughout the years however, depending on the manager’s preference or the team’s style of play.
Villa Park is situated in Aston, which is about 1.5 miles North East of Birmingham City Centre.
You can visit Villa Park by train, with both Aston and Witton stations within a mile of the ground. If you are travelling from further away, you may have to include a change at Birmingham new Street Station.
Birmingham has a large bus network with varying bus routes stopping within walking distance of the stadium, Witton Square is highly convenient with 3different buses stopping there. You can find the key routes and bus stops on the Transport for West Midlands website.
Villa Park is located just off the M6 so is accessible by car easily, however it should be noted that there is resident only parking and road closures in place on matchdays. Therefore travelling via public transport is favoured.
Villa Park is open for visits on both matchdays and non-matchdays, as it is open all week. Tickets are available from the club website and ticket office for visiting on matchdays, while throughout the week there are regular stadium tours to take in the club’s vast amount of history.
Due to its very central location, Villa Park is a prime spot for major events. It was the first English ground to host international football in three different centuries and was a key ground throughout the 1966 World Cup and Euro ’96.
In terms of club football, Villa Park has seen Lazio win the final of the 1999 European Cup Winners Cup, Liverpool lift the League Cup in 1981 and Manchester City beat Chelsea 3-2 in the Community Shield. The historic ground was also home to the European Cup for a year in 1982, after Aston Villa beat Bayern Munich 1-0 in Rotterdam to lift the prestigious trophy, playing all of their home ties there.
Moving away from football, the Aston Ground, as it is sometimes known, has played host to multiple other sports. Boxer Dick Turpin became the first non-white fighter to win a British title there in 1948, and some time before that, Australia’s cricket team faced an England XI whilst on their 1884 tour of the UK. More recently, the ground hosted two pool matches for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, with Australia and South Africa winning games there on their way to the knockout stages.
Outside of sport, musicians and preachers have had the stadium packed numerous times. Artists such as Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Duran Duran have held concerts on the pitch, while Archbishop Desmond Tutu held a religious gathering for the Aston crowd in 1989.