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George Ramsay

George Ramsay
Personal information
Full nameGeorge Burrell Ramsay
Date of birthMarch 1, 1855
Place of birthGlasgow, Scotland
Date of deathOctober 7, 1935(age 80)
Place of deathLlandrindod Wells, Wales

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George Burrell Ramsay (1 March 1855 in Glasgow, Scotland 7 October 1935 in Llandrindod Wells) was secretary/manager of Aston Villa Football Club in the most successful period of their history.

George Ramsay is a colossal figure in the history of Aston Villa Football Club. Had the rough Scotsman not come across a practice football match (in 1876) between a bunch of ill-organised, inexperienced cricketers, it is unlikely that the name Aston Villa would be a household name today. In fact, the infant club would probably have spluttered out of existence within the year. Such was the impact George Ramsay had on the club's early years.

Ramsay later described their approach to the game as 'a dash at the man and a big kick at the ball'. Ramsay was a gifted footballer, and amazed the players with his dribbling and control that day, so much so that he was persuaded to join them and was quickly made captain of the team. Soon people were coming to Villa matches just see him. He also took charge of training which saw dramatic improvement that showed in the results, introducing what was known as the "passing game". This had become the main style of play in Scotland whereas in England most teams relied on what was known as the "dribbling game".

In addition to the introduction of a radical change in playing style, Ramsay, along with John Linsay discovered the Wellington Road ground at Perry Barr in 1876, which meant the club was able to charge admission for the first time. He was also responsible for the recruitment of Villa legend Archie Hunter. Hunter later recounted the story in his 1890 memoir Triumphs of the Football Field. |} Villa played at Perry Barr until 1897 when the club moved to the Aston Lower Grounds, next to Aston Hall, which later became known as Villa Park. Club folklore has it that Ramsay was the first man to kick a ball at Villa Park.

Villa gradually improved under his guidance which culminated in Villa winning their first trophy, The Birmingham Senior Cup, in 1880, with Ramsay as captain. Ramsay retired from playing in June 1882, but remained at the club as Secretary from 1884 1926. This position pre-dates the modern role of a football manager, which meant that Ramsay was responsible for the team. His duties not only involved looking after the players but also included controlling recruitment and transfers, supported by a specialist trainer. Although the team was selected by the Committee each week, which consisted of such figures as William McGregor and Fred Rinder. He held this position for a remarkable 42 years, in which time Villa won the Football League and FA Cup 6 times each, establishing themselves as the premier football club in England.

In 1926, at the age of 71, Ramsay retired as Secretary and became honorary advisor and a vice-president of the Club. His replacement W. J. Smith was unable to continue Ramsay's success, although the club did finish runners-up in the league twice under his guidance. In 1934 Smith stood down and the club decided to appoint its first manager, Jimmy McMullan. The following year Ramsay died at the age of 80. Within a year of his death the Midlands giants were relegated, an unthinkable notion in the Ramsay era.

In all Ramsay's association with the football club lasted 59 years, a time which will always be known as Aston Villa's 'Golden Age'. Ramsay was laid to rest at St. Mary's Church, Handsworth, his gravestone reads "Founder of Aston Villa".

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