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Ever Wonder why the lion is key to Aston Villa’s identity?

Joe Prince-Wright dives into the unexpectedly Scottish roots of Aston Villa and how the club ended up with the lion rampant on its crest.

Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Check out our ‘Ever Wonder’ series in full ]

Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.

Ever Wonder why there is a lion on Aston Villa’s badge?

Everywhere you look at Villa Park there are lions. But why? And why is there a lion on Aston Villa’s badge?

Well, first up, this isn’t any old lion. It is The Rampant Lion from Scotland.

Okay, I hear you, Aston Villa aren’t based in Scotland. That’s correct. Let me explain.

Villa and Scotland map

Pioneering duo of McGregor and Ramsay

The Rampant Lion of Scotland was chosen to be on Aston Villa’s badge by two of their early administrators and players, William McGregor and George Ramsay, who were key in founding the club as a professional outfit after it was set up Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel.

After joining and then becoming a leading figure in Aston Villa’s committee in 1877, McGregor is famous for being the first-ever chairman of the Football League as he set up the league system in 1888. That same system is still used in England today and Aston Villa were one of the 12 founding members as McGregor wrote to Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers and asked them to start a league where they would play for points.

William McGregor

He worked closely alongside George Ramsay to create a professional team at Aston Villa and McGregor also ran a linen’s draper store near Villa Park, with his brother.

In 1879 Ramsay helped Aston Villa enter the FA Cup for the first time and the club was well on its way to becoming a leader among the first batch of professional teams in England. Ramsay played for Villa from 1876 and became their first manager, as he is widely regarded to be the first-ever football manager in the game when he was hired in 1886.

Ramsay was Villa’s manager for 42 years as they won six football league titles and six FA Cups and the era is known as Aston Villa’s ‘Golden Age.’ He was connected to the club for 59 years. He passed away in 1936 on his headstone it details him as the ‘Founder of Aston Villa.’

George Ramsay

But why did they choose the lion? Scottish roots from the start

One: because the Lion – according to the club – represents “bravery, valor and strength.”

Two: The Rampant Lion is from the flag known as the Royal Standard of Scotland which is the homeland of McGregor and Ramsay, and many of Aston Villa’s first-ever players and administrators.

Rampart Lion

New badge, same lion

Throughout its history, the club has had various iterations of its badge.

Next season, it will debut a redesigned crest, with the famous Rampant Lion remaining front and center.

Next step: give that Lion a kilt to wear and some bag pipes.

New Villa badge

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