Game | #3367 |

Season | 1974-75 |

Matchday | #43 |

Manager Game | #43 |

Saturday, 1 March 1975

League Cup | Final | Neutral | Norwich City | Wembley Stadium | 95,946 |

Game Summary |

Manager | Ron Saunders |

FT Result | Won |

FT Score | 1-0 |

Last 5 Games | DLWWW |

Scorers | Ray Graydon | 79’ |

Line Up |

GK Jim Cumbes |

D Chris Nicholl |

D Ian Ross |

FB John Robson |

LB Charlie Aitken |

LB Bobby McDonald |

M Chico Hamilton |

W Ray Graydon | GOAL | 79' |

W Frank Carrodus |

F Keith Leonard |

F Brian Little |

Unused Substitute |
F Alun Evans |

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 26.19 | 

Oldest Player | LB Charlie Aitken | 32.85 |

Youngest Player | LB Bobby McDonald | 19.90 |

On this day 1 March 1975

Villa won the League Cup for the second time following their victory in 1960-61. 

Villa had now lost just once in the last 12 games.

Ron Saunders, appeared in his third successive League Cup Final with his third different club, having been a losing manager with Norwich City in 1973 and Manchester City in 1974.

Match Preview

*Birmingham Daily Post*

*Saturday 01 March 1975*

Final victory can light fuse at Villa Park, says Saunders


The Aston Villa manager, Ron Saunders, who makes history in today's League Cup final, thought for a moment and then said: "If we win at Wembley it will light the fuse of an explosion at Villa Park."

Saunders, speaking after Villa's final training session, added! "If we win, I feel the double is well within our capabilities. I have never liked beating my own drum perhaps I should have. And perhaps I should have beaten the drum about Aston Villa earlier.


"But that's not my way. I prefer to let performances and results speak for themselves.

"We all know about Villa's vast potential—it's been talked about for years but now we are on the verge of doing something about it. This club is near to an explosion."


It is the third successive year that Saunders has been to the League Cup final, all with different teams - a feat no other manager has achieved and one unlikely to be equalled.

How does this Villa side compare with the other two, the workmanlike but dour Norwich side and the flashy but brittle Manchester City team beaten by Wolves last year?

"I think this is a better balanced team," Saunders said. "I mean that not only in terms of ability but in heart and character as well."

"I think there will be one or two revelations at Wembley tomorrow. Taking away the experienced professionals in the side there are five youngsters with tremendous potential.

"For instance, the running power of Frank Carrodus is fantastic. and it's not aimless running either. It's intelligent.

"One of the mistakes I made with Manchester City last year was leaving out Frank. I can make it up to him tomorrow. And Brian Little has started to put his game together. He's got tremendous ability now he's imposed his work-rate.

This is, perhaps, Saunders's biggest attribute as a manager, the ability to draw more out of a player than even the player thought possible.


For instance, the Norwich team he took to Wembley two years ago was made up of players mostly of limited ability but who found themselves part of a successful team because they believed Saunders


"The biggest problem I had at Norwich was convincing the directors, players and the public that the club could be successful. They all thought in terms of the Cup run of 1958." Saunders said.


"It's different at Villa because the fans can't remember past triumphs, although they are always in the background."


Now, in his first six months at Villa Park, he has taken the team to the League Cup final, with its automatic entry into Europe, and near promotion


It's been achieved with most of the players who were unable to get Villa up in the last two years, but with significant difference.


Carrodus, at £90,000 from Manchester City, is one; Bobby McDonald, a positive, talented midfield player converted from fullback, is another. And the hurting power and surprising mobility of a thinner Keith Leonard is another.


There are differences, too, in Saunders's approach to the final this year.


An immensely superstitious man he favours omens. So Villa stayed at the same hotel in Hertfordshire that Wolves used before they won the final last year. They have the South dressing room, the one preferred by the England manager, Don Revie, rather than the North, which was used by Saunders's unsuccessful teams last year and the year before. And Saunders will wear the same suit, shirt and tie as he has at all Villa's League Cup games this season.

Today's final is the first major event at Wembley without a First Division club taking part but Saunders commented: "Anyone who says it's a second class occasion is second class themselves."


It could, in fact. be one of the best Wembley matches for years.


Without being parochial I agree with Villa's position as favourites. It could, indeed, be the dawning of a new era.


If so, the work Saunders has done in his first six months at Villa Park will be shown in a proper perspective. It will beat the drum for him.


Aston Villa: Cumbes, Robson Aitken. Ross. Nichol), McDonald. Graydon. Little, Leonard. Hamilton, Carrodus. Sub: Evans. — Norwich from: Keelan; Machin Sullivan, Morris. Forbes. Stringer, Miller. Steele. MacDougall, Boyer. Suggett. Powell, Butler, Grapes , Goodwin. 

Match Preview

*Birmingham Daily Post*

*Saturday 01 March 1975*

Viva Villa !


Although Aston Villa were the first winners of the Football League Cup in 1961 the competition has gained a great deal in stature since then and has the dignity of a Wembley final. The Villa were unsuccessful there in another League Cup final a few years ago but this time they will be eager to beat their Second Division rivals, Norwich City, to clinch the trophy. There is a lot of confidence at Villa Park, and among supporters, and we hope that it will be justified this afternoon. it could, after all, be Stage One, in a triumphant " double " for the 1974-5 season. 

Best wishes to the Villa


Sir, Francis Bacon (Post, February 26) is fortunate in being able to recall the Aston Villa of the thirties and the legendary stars who played for the club. When I started to watch them in 1945 most of the older players had gone and others such as Eric Houghton and George Cummings were approaching the end of their playing careers. My indoctrination, therefore, was based on the glories of past achievements, the like of which would never be seen again. Mr. Bacon rightly states that to support Aston Villa is almost a way of life. This way of life was also passed on to me by my father and I am delighted to say that the enthusiasm has rubbed off on to my son in whose eyes this great football club and its players can do no wrong. There have been many disappointments, particularly during the slump of the middle and late 1960s. On the other hand, there have been times of glory such as the FA Cup win in 1957 and that of the League Cup in 1961, besides numerous lesser and more recent achievements. There is a feeling in the air that the club are on the verge of better times with a chance to win the League Cup again and the First Division at last within their grasp. Ron Saunders and his revitalised team have provided us with a memorable and exciting season and are to be congratulated for bringing back Villa Park's unique atmosphere and its famous "roar". We wish them good luck and look forward to continuing success. W. L. Hales. Birmingham 26.

Match Report

*Birmingham Daily Post*

*Monday 03 March 1975*

Victorious Villa

The confidence we noted in Aston Villa before Saturday's League Cup final was justified even if the thousands of supporters were driven to miss a heart-beat before that decisive goal was scored. But it was a fine victory and one that brings an important trophy back to a team that once had the best of cup-fighting reputations. There is still a chance of another trophy coming to the city this year—even though the Blues' prospects in the FA Cup are not highly rated by the experts. In the meantime, congratulations to the Villa for whom one success is reality. Now we can only hope that they make that success absolute by clinching promotion to the First Division. 

*Birmingham Daily Post*

*Monday 03 March 1975*

Wembley victory to supply the impetus 

Promotion can repay the fans  


Aston Villa 1, Norwich 0

Aston Villa's players must forget that the club is in Europe for the first time, must recover from the surfeit of champagne, avoid the dizzy whirl of celebration and prepare for the next task—promotion. It seems a shame that they have to force Saturday's League Cup final out of their minds so soon but they have Second Division game with Bolton at Villa Park on Wednesday. And welcome as the Wembley win was, a return to the First Division is the only way which Villa's fans can be 'Paid for the remarkable support they gave on Saturday. The dressing room end throbbed with sound, the air aflame with the traditional colours of claret and blue, and those garish yellow green colours of Norwich into the evening. The League Cup was back in the hands of the first club win it and there was a sense of something on the move, the rebirth of one of football's most historic clubs.




Everyone connected with Villa, from the chairman, to Manager, to the players, caught the mood. They all thought that Saturday's victory, would provide Villa with impetus they need to get past Norwich and into the promotion zone. They can start going for it Wednesday, because if they win they will move above Norwich into third place. There is sure to be a massive, emotional crowd at Villa Park to see them try.


The Wembley victory is not good only for Villa. It is good for the city, although its immediate effect is to put pressure on the two other clubs In the immediate area, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion. Blues are fortunate in that they can sustain their supporters with their continuing involvement in the FA Cup, but Albion's season appears to be in pieces after the 3-0 defeat at Sunderland. But, ultimately, the listless West Midland football scene can only profit if Villa rise again.


On Saturday it was like December, 1968, all over again, although this time the feeling of optimism was sparked by an achievement rather than a change of directors. This was Villa's first achievement in those six turbulent years. The Third Division championship was won in style but the supporters claim that Villa should not have been so low down anyway. There was never any doubt that they deserved to win on Saturday. The only man who stood between them and one of Wembley's heaviest victories was Kevin Keelan, the Norwich goalkeeper, who started his career with Villa. Villa had 23 goal attempts on or near the target, Norwich had five. Villa had 15 corners, Norwich four, and John Miller put two of those into the side netting. The difference between the teams was as clear cut as the statistics indicate.


Norwich approached the game in a negative way. So much for John Bond's claims that his team play flowing, imaginative football. They were like a fishing net covered in oil. Nothing much got through it wasn't any good to anybody. The spearhead of Ted MacDougall and Phil Boyer, much lauded before the game, became snagged on Chris Nicholl and his partner, lan Ross, the captain. A pair of opposites these two. Nicholl was the best player on the field, bold and hard and winning everything in the air. Juggler Ross was neat and unobtrusive. A gap opened, Ross read it and it closed. He would be there, juggling the ball clear, easing it forward. His header off the line from MacDougall in the 30th minute in Norwich's only period of dominance was the turning point. After that Jim Cumbes had nothing to do. 


In midfield Carrodus's athletic running and clever skills gave Villa an extra dimension and Bobby McDonald can expect Willie Ormond to become Scottish Under-23 cap in hand. Brian Little, too, could win Under-23 honours for England after stretching Norwich's defence with elusive runs. Graydon, perhaps, wasn't at his best. He found his immediate opponent, Colin Sullivan, difficult to beat and it seemed that the burden of being everybody's favourite match-winner was too much. But after 79 minutes when Mel Machin stopped Nicholl's header with his hand, Graydon scored the winner. Keelan pushed Graydon's penalty on to the post. The ball bounced back and Graydon slammed it home. 

Post Match

*Birmingham Daily Post*

*Monday 03 March 1975*

Saunders settles for peace


Even at the height of the celebrations at the Savoy, and that was pretty high, Ron Saunders could not bring himself to be vindictive. All through last week the Aston Villa manager was the target of what seemed to be a campaign by Norwich's manager, John Bond to unsettle him psychologically. The problem was aggravated by the fact that Bond had taken over from Saunders at Norwich and had made disparaging remarks about the team he inherited. Last week ended with a statement that was out of order even for such a natural publicist as Bond. Saunders, he said, was a short term manager. That must have annoyed Saunders and it rebounded on Band in that it irritated the Villa players as well.


Their victory gave Saunders the perfect opportunity and right to reply. But instead of answering in kind he preferred to say: "As a manager I've had a lot of good things said about me by managers of proven ability Iike Bill Shankly, Don Revie and Dave Sexton. I'm not really interested in what lesser managers have to say. "He was talking about things he doesn't understand. He was under pressure and he had a lot to live up to. I felt he was whistling in the dark. "All that talk was a sign of the pressure he was under and he possibly hasn't had the experience to control it. This game is cruel enough without people in it knocking each other. "He did the talking all the week, my players did the talking today."


Another of Bond's pronouncements was that he would not feel sorry for Saunders if his team lost the League Cup final. But Saunders said: "I have every sympathy for the players, their wives, their children, their relatives and their friends. I have every sympathy for John Bond as well.' Saunders had commiserated with the Norwich players as they collected their losers' tankards and slouched from the pitch to the dressing room. He knew most of them, of course, and he had a special word for Colin Suggett, whom he bought from West Bromwich Albion. "I knew how they felt," he said. "Having lost twice myself it makes this victory all the sweeter. It makes you appreciate it more."


Despite being superstitious Saunders had changed his routine this year. On Friday he said: "I'll tell you what I've done differently after the game." 

It turned out he had driven his players even harder in training. "The main thing was that after getting to Wembley I stepped up training and became more critical, both with individuals and the team. The players have responded marvellously." He almost slipped up, though, in not telling Ray Graydon that Kevin Keelan dives to his right at penalties. Graydon put the 79th minute spot kick that way and Keelan brushed it onto the post. "I thought I'd made a mistake in not telling Ray" Saunders said "But it bounced back to him and he hit it in."

Saunders' ability as a manager was underlined by captain Ian Ross. He said "I've played under Bill Shankley and for my money Ron Saunders is a better manager than Shanks."