Archie Hunter

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Archie Hunter
Archie hunter.jpg
Personal information
Full nameArchibald Hunter
Date of birth(1859-09-23)23 September 1859 [1]
Place of birth Joppa, Ayrshire, Scotland
Date of death 29 November 1894(1894-11-29) (aged 35) [1]
Place of death Aston, Birmingham, England
Position(s) Forward [1]
Senior career*
? Ayr Thistle ? (?)
1878–1890 Aston Villa 32 (8)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Archibald Hunter (23 September 1859 in Joppa, nr. Ayr, Scotland – 29 November 1894 in Aston, Birmingham, England), was the first captain of Aston Villa to lift the FA Cup, in 1887. He was one of Victorian football's first household names.


Life and career

Hunter played at Third Lanark, Ayr Thistle, and Aston Villa, whom he signed for 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 73 matches scoring 42 goals. Also his 33 goals for Villa in the FA Cup (including 3 in 1888–1889) remains the Aston Villa record for the competition. [2] Archie Hunter made his League debut on 15 September 1888 at Wellington Road, as a forward, against Stoke. Aston Villa won 5–1 and Archie Hunter scored one of the goals. He missed 3 League games (out of 22) in 1888–1889 (he played in all 3 FA Cup ties) and Hunter scored six League goals including two-in-a-League-match once. As a forward he played in a forward-line that scored three-League-goals-or-more-in-a-match on no less than on ten occasions. He scored 10 goals in 1888-1889 which made him Villa joint 3rd top scorer along with Denny Hodgetts. [3]

Despite being one of the greats of the 19th century game, Hunter never fulfilled his dream of playing for Scotland against England. This is because at the time the Scottish Football Association had a policy of not picking 'Anglo-Scots' (i.e. Scots who played in the English League).

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 as 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.

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 1890 Hunter suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He never played again, and died at the age of 35. 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).

His brother Andy also played for Villa, and scored their first ever FA Cup goal.

One source said that there was no doubt that the auburn-haired Hunter was a great player - one of the best footballers of the 1880s and 90s. He was an individualist with a commanding personality; he was robust yet decidedly fair and never committed a foul in anger. Known as ‘The Old Warhorse’, he was a mixture of toughness and cleverness, a player who often ran down the touchline, pulling defenders all over the field. [4]


In 1998, Archie Hunter was inducted into the English Football League's list of 100 legends.

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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  1. 1 2 3 "Archie Hunter Bio". Aston Villa Player Database.
  2. Metcalf, Mark (2013). The Origins of the Football League. Amberley. ISBN   978-1-4456-1881-4.
  3. "English National Football Archive" . Retrieved 24 December 2017. (registration & fee required)
  4. Matthews, Tony (2004). Who's Who of Aston Villa. Mainstream Publishing. pp. 155–156. ISBN   1-84018-821-9.