Birmingham born inside left (he also often played outside left) Dennis Hodgetts played his early football for The Dreadnought in Birmingham in 1878, for Great Lever in Bolton in 1879 and for Birmingham St George’s, joining them in 1882 before joining Aston Villa in February 1886. The following year he scored the first goal in Aston Villa’s first FA Cup Final triumph, as Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at The Kennington Oval. He won his first cap for England in February 1888, when he played in a 5-1 win over Wales at The Alexandra Recreation Ground, Crewe, and the next month he scored his first England goal in a 5-0 win over Scotland at Hampden Park Glasgow, winning a further cap in April as England beat Ireland 5-1 at Ballynafeigh Park, Belfast, to seal the Home Championship.
When Aston Villa joined The Football League in 1888, Hodgetts made his League debut for them in their inaugural League match at Wolverhampton Wanderers that September, helping them to finish runners up in the League with 10 goals in the campaign. In January 1891, he scored 4 goals in a thumping 13-1 victory over The Casuals in an FA Cup tie. He also scored a hat-trick exactly a year later as Aston Villa beat Heanor Town 4-1 in a Cup tie. He was recalled to the England team for two further internationals in the spring of 1892, and won his sixth and final England cap in a 2-2 draw with Ireland at Cliftonville Gardens, Belfast, in March 1894. He also represented The Football League in a 4-1 victory over The Scottish League at Celtic Park in April 1895.
He was a member of Aston Villa’s 1892 FA Cup Final team that lost 3-0 to West Bromwich Albion at The Kennington Oval but in 1895 he avenged this defeat as he collected another FA Cup winners medal with Villa beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the Final at The Crystal Palace. He also twice won The League Championship with Aston Villa, missing one match in their triumphant 1893-94 campaign and playing most of their matches in 1895-96, a season which proved to be his last with Aston Villa having lost his place in the Villa line up at the start of February 1896.
One of the undoubted great early players for Aston Villa, in September 1906 the Aston Villa News & Record described him thus:
“A born football player. Remarkably clever with his feet, and possessed many original ideas. Effective in combination, an admirable coach, his skill and unselfishness having the happiest results. Shone especially in ‘nursing’ players lighter and less skilful than himself, many juniors coming into prominence on the strength of his tuition and example.”
In the summer of 1896, after scoring 81 goals in 204 appearances for Aston Villa during their League era, Hodgetts joined Small Heath (now Birmingham City), and played a single season for them in the Second Division, scoring 9 goals in 23 appearances before retiring at the end of the season. He then spent a year as a coach at Aston Villa before leaving football. In 1930 he was elected as Aston Villa’s vice-president, a position he held until his death, aged 81, in March 1945.