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Aston Villa, Everton and a memorable FA Cup Final

A look back at the 1897 FA Cup Final.

Stu Forster

Tomorrow, Aston Villa will travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton. The two teams have played some memorable matches in past few years. Most notably was Villa's 3-2 win away in December 2008. However, the was another big 3-2 win Villa once had over Everton. In this edition of Holte History, we'll take a look at the 1897 FA Cup Final.

Heading in to April 10, 1897, Aston Villa found themselves top of the English First Division by seven points with three games remaining. On that same day, they traveled down to London to take on Everton in the FA Cup Final.

Villa began their 1896-97 FA Cup campaign with a 5-0 home win over Newcastle United. In the second round, they beat Notts County, before knocking out Preston North End in a replay in the third round. In the semifinals, they beat Liverpool 3-0 to book their place in the FA Cup Final. Waiting for them in the final was Everton, who had beaten Bolton Wanderers, Bury, Blackburn Rovers and Derby County to get there.

Villa were arguably the best team of that era. They had won the league the season before, the FA Cup two seasons before and the league again in 1893-94. Their starting eleven on the day featured some of the best players of the era, including previous Holte History subjects Howard Spencer and John Devey.

Villa struck first in the match when John Campbell scored in the 18th minute. That began a frantic 25 minutes of play that would decide the FA Cup. Jack Bell equalized for Everton in the 23rd minute. Two minutes later, Dickie Boyle gave The Toffees the lead. Villa were said to have been the better team early, but now found themselves down a goal. After that Everton began to look like they would put the match away. But because of the craziness of this match, that wouldn't last long. Fred Wheldon struck back for Villa in the 35th minute. And then right before halftime, Jimmy Crabtree headed in a goal from a corner to put Villa back in front. After five first half goals, there would be none in the second half. Villa won the FA Cup with a crazy 3-2 win.

Elsewhere on that day, Derby County, the only team with a mathematical chance to catch Villa in the league, lost to Bury 1-0. That win meant that Aston Villa both clinched the league and the FA Cup on the same day. They are still the first, and only, English team to have won both trophies that make up "The Double" on the same day.