Hunter Archie Image 2 Aston Villa 1887

Hunter Archie Image 2 Aston Villa 1887


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The older brother of Aston Villa player Andy Hunter, Joppa, Ayrshire born centre forward Archie Hunter played for Ayr Thistle and Third Lanark, featuring on the losing side in the 1878 Scottish Cup Final when they were beaten 1-0 by Vale of Leven at Hampden Park, before coming to England to join Aston Villa in August 1878, just four years after their formation. His Aston Villa career began 10 years before the commencement of the first Football League season. In his League career (1888–1890) he played 35 matches scoring 11 goals.

Despite being one of the greats of the 19th century game, Hunter never played for Scotland because at the time the Scottish Football Association had a policy of not picking ‘Anglo-Scots’ i.e. Scots who played for English clubs.

Hunter originally came to Birmingham planning to sign for Calthorpe FC, but after failing to locate them was persuaded to sign for Villa instead after hearing of Aston Villa’s Scottish connections. Hunter later recalled in his memoirs;

“Aston Villa to me was a club that had come rapidly to the fore and asked me to become a member of it. I hesitated for some time, but at last my friend told me that a “brother Scot,” Mr. George Ramsay, was the Villa captain and that decided me. Mr. Ramsay was a Glasgow man and had exerted himself very considerably to bring the Villa team into the front rank.”

[Archie Hunter, Triumphs of the Football Field]

He was idolized by the crowds and became the first player to score in every round of the FA Cup in Villa’s victorious 1887 campaign, scoring their second goal in their 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup Final at The Kennington Oval.

“Archie Hunter was a prince of dribblers. It was not an unusual performance of his to start at the half way mark, and dribble through the whole of the opposing team! He would not lose the ball until he had literally dribbled it between the posts.” [Association Football And The Men Who Made It (1906)]

During a Football League match against Everton in January 1890 Hunter suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He never played again, and died at the age of 35 in 1894. It is said that, on his death-bed, he asked to be lifted up one last time to see the crowd going to Perry Barr (then Villa’s home).

The headstone on his grave reads:

This monument is erected in loving memory of Archie Hunter, the famous captain of Aston Villa, by his football comrades and the club as a lasting tribute to his ability on the field and his sterling worth as a man.

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