The official programme/handbill for the Loughborough v Aston Villa Birmingham Cup match – Saturday 10 March 1894, Athletic Grounds, Loughborough.

The fortunes of the professional football association in the town have always been precarious. Yet on an epoch-making occasion, Loughborough AFC achieved an almost legendary feat of football prowess by beating Aston Villa in the Birmingham Senoir Cup. The match took place on 10 March 1894 on the Nottingham Road ground behind the Greyhound Hotel. That season Loughborough Town had entered for the English Cup, the Bass Charity Cup and the Birmingham Cup competitions, much of the success in securing their entry to the latter being due to the efforts of Mr. Walter Cockain, licensee of ‘The Stag and Pheasant’ (Nottingham Road). Famous teams taking part included Small Heath, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion. Loughborough were members of the Midland League. Over 6,000 spectators thronged to the enclosure. The report in The Loughborough Echo read:-

“As Aston Villa trotted into the gaze of the spectators there seemed to be about them an air of victory, an

easy carriage that never dreamt of defeat, a condescension, in fact, that they, the champions of England, should come to show their form in thrashing a village team.” With one goal each at the interval, the second half provided no score, and with ten minutes to go in the extra half-hour, Carnelley “bags the ball into the net at a terrific speed.” The report adds, “Carnelley, who was an international player, always played in his cap. It is known and recorded that when Carnelley, who was the hero of the hour, removed his cap, a goal was a certainty, and that is what happened!” At that time the Villans were leaders of the First Division and winners of the League Championship for 1893-94. It was hailed as a famous victory and the public houses of the town that night, with beer at 3d and 2½d per pint, were full to over-flowing. The report concludes: “I won’t say that the better team won, but I can truthfully say that the losing team were downright beaten after trying all they knew to win and exerting every effort to make a draw.” It would also appear that the victory was expected, in view of the obituary notice, reproduced above which was on sale outside the ground immediately following the game. There is a story told about this match to the effect that Aston Villa were so confident of beating Loughborough Town that when they were passing through Trent Junction on the train, one of the players poked his head out of the carriage window and shouted to a porter – “Hey, where’s Loughborough?” On the return of the team through Trent Junction the same porter was on duty and noticing the team sitting rather disconsolately in their carriage, he shouted – “Hey, you know where Loughborough is now, don’t you!” In the semi-final at Aston, Loughborough were beaten 6-1 by West Bromwich Albion, who shared the cup with Wolverhampton Wanderers following a 3–3 draw in the final.