1980–81 Aston Villa F.C. season

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Aston Villa
1980–81 season
Chairman Ron Bendall
Manager Ron Saunders
First Division 1st (Champions)
FA Cup Third Round
League Cup Third Round
Top goalscorer League: Peter Withe (20)
All: Peter Withe (21)
Highest home attendance 47,998 vs West Bromwich Albion
(8 April 1981)
Lowest home attendance 23,622 vs Leeds United
(27 August 1980)

This season was something of a "throwback" to the 19th Century. Not only were Aston Villa champions again, but they did it with just 14 players, of whom no fewer than seven (Jimmy Rimmer, Kenny Swain, Ken McNaught, Dennis Mortimer, Des Bremner, Gordon Cowans and Tony Morley) were ever-present. Gary Shaw made 40 appearances, Allan Evans 39 and Peter Withe 36 with Gary Williams (22 appearances) and Colin Gibson (21) contesting the remaining spot in the starting XI. David Geddis and Eamonn Deacy made nine appearances apiece.

Villa began the season well, winning 2-1 at Leeds United and beating Norwich City at Villa Park, but a third straight win was denied them when Manchester City came from 2-0 down to claim a draw at Maine Road. Victory over Coventry City followed and Villa also beat Leeds over both legs in the second round of the League Cup before their unbeaten start ended at Ipswich Town who would prove to be Villa's main challengers for the title as the season progressed.

Defeat at home to Everton was followed by a 12 match unbeaten run and although three of the next five matches ended in defeat a further unbeaten run of 10 matches ensued, including seven straight wins. A key performance during this period was a second v first clash at home to Liverpool who at the time headed the table on goal difference. Goals from Withe and Mortimer confirmed Villa as genuine contenders as they beat the reigning champions 2-0.

Ron Saunders' team were neck-and-neck with Ipswich when the two clashed at Villa Park in mid-April and a 2-1 victory for the visitors appeared to swing the destiny of the championship in their favour. However, Ipswich lost their next two matches while Villa beat Nottingham Forest and drew with Stoke City to reclaim the initiative. Victory over Middlesbrough in their final home match left Villa four points ahead with one to play, although Ipswich had a game in hand.

At half-time on the final Saturday of the league season, Villa trailed 2-0 at Arsenal and with Ipswich 1-0 ahead at Middlesbrough the title was still hanging in the balance. No further goals were added in the second half at Highbury but the home side scored twice without reply at Ayresome Park, confirming Villa as champions for the first time since 1910.

Peter Withe ended the season as the First Division's joint leading scorer with 20 goals. He had previously won championship honours with Forest in 1978 and also played for Southport, Barrow, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Birmingham City and Newcastle United before joining Villa in the summer of 1980. He later played for Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town. He won 11 caps for England and his longest time spent at one club was at Villa where he scored 74 goals in 182 League games.


First Division[edit]

Pos Club Pld W D L F A GA Pts
1 Aston Villa 42 26 8 8 72 40 +32 60
2 Ipswich Town 42 23 10 9 77 43 +34 56
3 Arsenal 42 19 15 8 61 45 +16 53

Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GA = Goal average; Pts = Points

League Cup[edit]

FA Cup[edit]