Aston Villa, in common with local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion, have been starved of success in recent years. Prior to 2016, however, the club could at least claim to have spent only one season out of the top flight since the mid-1970s. But a play-off defeat by Fulham means that Villa fans including HRH Prince William and Nigel Kennedy must now endure a third season of Championship football following relegation from the Premier League in 2016.
Poor though the team might currently be, the same cannot be said of Villa Park, which has throughout its existence been one of the most imposing stadia in the country. The current iteration of the stadium began in 1976-77 with the construction of the North Stand to replace the old Witton End Stand.
The stand is one of the first examples of the so-called ‘goalpost’ construction technique and is a fairly typical example of the Brutalist architectural style popular at that time.
Next to be redeveloped was the Witton Street Stand between 1993 and 1994. This time a more conventional cantilever design was chosen. The stand was later renamed for then-chairman Doug Ellis, a move that was not universally popular with supporters.
Shortly afterwards, the Holte End – originally a terrace holding 20,000 – was redeveloped as a two-tier stand. Its exterior was given a redbrick frontage based heavily on the then still existent 1920s Leitch-designed Trinity Road Stand.
The car park is entered via these fine iron gates, guarded by a pair of lions.
The final phase of the masterplan was carried out in 2000 with the rebuilding of the Trinity Road Stand, to give the ground a capacity of 42,500.
Aerial view of Villa Park.
(Photo credit: Peter Schaad)
Sports historian and Villa fan Simon Inglis once noted that a building is never finished, only started. This may well be true of Villa Park with plans to rebuild the North Stand and eventually to increase the capacity to 60,000.