Aston Villa’s Club Crest Lion History and Scottish Heritage

Aston Villa’s Club Crest Lion History

Last month saw the release of the book World Football Club Crests: : The Design, Meaning and Symbolism of World Football’s Most Famous Club Badges, which tells the tales of identity of 200 club crests selected from 20 different leagues around the world.

The book charts the continuing evolution of the designs and describes the changing styles, varied influences and controversies that have shaped
football’s most iconic crests.

Aston Villa’s crest proudly features on the cover of the book.

The latest Villa badge is a relative new design appearing in 2016 and despite the cries from some quarters for the return of the 1980’s round badge, the current design will remain for the foreseeable future.

This was confirmed at a previous Villa Fan Consultation Group (FCG) meeting – it has to be remembered that changing the badge is a six-figure rebranding exercise.

Bloomsbury Sport publishers have kindly allowed MOMS to print the below Aston Villa excerpt of the book, which is currently selling at a good price on Amazon, if you want to add this classy book to your collection.

Aston Villa’s Scottish Roots



Aston villa lion design

The Scottish lion and the word ‘Prepared’ have been part of the Aston Villa crest since the club’s foundation in 1874 and modifications have been few.

Historically, Aston Villa is one of England’s most important football clubs. The team from Birmingham was, in fact, one of the 12 first participants in the English League, though it took until 1894 before Aston Villa won their first League title.

The club chairman William McGregor played an important role both for the club and for English football in general. During his time in charge, Villa won six league titles and took the FA Cup home four times – the most brilliant period in the club’s history.

McGregor also founded the country’s top division, in 1888, and carried through reform on a national level, which resulted in the professionalisation of the game. Thanks to McGregror, English players were now able to earn money from their sport.

McGregor had been enticed to Aston Villa in the first place by a strong connection to Birmingham’s Scottish community. McGregor was himself Scottish and felt a kinship with Villa, so in 1877 he chose to work for them.

The Scottish identity assumed its greatest importance when he decided the lion from Scotland’s royal crest should be the emblem of Aston Villa. Thus for over a hundred years the Scottish national crest has symbolised one of England’s most successful clubs.

After McGregor’s death in 1911, Aston Villa never quite reached the same heights again, even if the club did develop into one of England’s strongest brands. The victory in the European Cup in 1982 was their greatest achievement – a title that was, incidentally, won with four Scottish players in the squad.

Recent Villa Badge Timeline

  1. 1973-1992. The rampant lion from Scotland’s national crest was Aston Villa’s first emblem and has never been replaced. Prior to this badge the lion could be seen without the surrounding shield as well.
  2. 1992–2000. The original lion was red, but during the 20th century there were white, claret and light-blue variations until this one was introduced in 1992. Since then, Villa’s lion has been yellow.
  3. 2000–2007. With the arrival of the new millennium the lion was modernised and the abbreviation F.C. was dropped. The claret and light-blue stripes symbolise the colours of the shirt, which haven’t changed since 1887.
  4. 2007–2016. On August 14th, 2006 the American Randy Lerner bought Aston Villa for £62.6 million. To symbolise the beginning of a new era, this emblem was introduced the following year. The white star reflects the victory against Bayern Munich in the 1982 European Cup. The motto Prepared has been used since 1878.
  5. 2016–present. In the spring of 2016 Aston Villa completed an historically poor season. The team came bottom of the Premier League and were relegated. In the midst of all this, the club introduced a new emblem costing around £100,000 – a huge sum for minor alterations like the lion’s acquisition of a more heraldic look… and claws. On top of this the motto ‘Prepared’ was removed to make the lion bigger.

Extracted from World Football Club Crests: : The Design, Meaning and Symbolism of World Football’s Most Famous Club Badges by Leonard Jägerskiöld Nilsson. Published by Bloomsbury Sport.

(Currently on offer on Amazon. Click on book image to buy)

MOMS previously gave away five copies of the book to My Old Man Said patrons. 

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