England Football Online
Players Index Page Last Updated
5 March 2020

Eric Houghton

Aston Villa FC

7 appearances, 5 goals, 1 penalty missed

P 7 W 6 D 0 L 1 F 28: A 12
86% successful


captain: none
minutes played:


Full name William Eric Houghton
Born 29 June 1910 in Billingborough, Lincolnshire [registered in Bourne, September 1910].
Attended Donington Grammar School
School notes "Eric Houghton, of Billingborough, at the Grammar School sports at Donington won the 100 yards handicap in 11sec., the 220 yards in 22 3-5th sec., the 440 yards, was second for throwing the cricket ball, second for the long jump (17ft. 3½in.), second in the mile, and third for the high jump." - Saturday, 13 August 1927, The Grantham Journal

Census Notes

According to the 1911 census, the nine month-old Eric is the only child of George and Mary Ethel. His father is a baker and they live in Billingborough High Street.

According to the 1939 register, William E., a professional footballer and a fish frier, is married to Muriel, and with one son, William (record blocked), they live at Sandhurst Avenue, in the Hodgehill area of Birmingham.
Married to Muriel Trevor Cooke (b.28 May 1914), on 29 June 1936 at Blyborough Parish Church [registered in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, June 1936]. Eric, by this time, was living at Rippingale, near Bourne. Muriel is an nurse at Nottingham Eye Hospital.
"The bride, whose father gave her away, wore a gown of heavy ivory lace, with draped skirt of tulle, and headdress of ivory tulle to which was attached a long veil and she carried cream roses. The two elder attendants were colleagues of the bride, Miss Betty Mitchell, and Miss Elsie Summers. They wore dresses of pale stiffened lace with crinoline hats to match and carried pink carnations. The best man was Mr. Reg Goodacre, of Billingborough, who has played for West Ham, and was with Gainsborough Trinity last season. The honeymoon is being spent in a motor tour of the South Coast." - Monday, 29 June 1936, The Lincolnshire Echo
They had four children, Robert E. (b.1937 d.4 April 1938), William N. (b.2 March 1939), Gillian M. (b.24 November 1944) and Eric A. (b.1948).
Eric was best man for Reg Goodacre when he married Jean Margaret Crosby on 27 September 1941.
Died 1 May 1996 in Sutton Coldfield, aged 85 years 307 days [registered in Lichfield, Staffordshire, May 1996].
Height/Weight 5' 8¼", 11st. 10lbs [1938].


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990] & FindMyPast.com

Club Career

Club(s) Began his playing career at Billingborough FC and Boston Town FC, before he signed for Aston Villa FC as an amateur on 24 August 1927 following a trial match, turning professional in August 1928, but not before playing for Birmingham FA juniors. He guested for Leicester City FC and the RAF, where he was stationed, then Nottingham Forest FC and Cventry City FC, during the war. Houghton would make 361 league appearances for Villa, amassing 160 goals, up until 27 December 1946, when he joined Notts County FC and made a further 55 league appearances, scoring ten goals, until he hung up his boots on 25 May 1949 to become the club manager.
Club honours Football League runners-up 1930-31, 1932-33; Division Two winners 1937-38;
Individual honours Football League (four appearances)
Distinctions In May 1927, while still a Billingborough lad, Houghton "received a chequed for £55, part share of the £1,000 offered by a Sunday paper." for "forecasting the score and the correct number of spectators passing through the gates at Wembley for the English Cup Final."
Houghton also played seven first-class matches for Warwickshire CCC and also minor counties cricket for Lincolnshire CCC. He also played club cricket for Sleaford, Aston Unity and Olton Cricket Clubs.
Nephew of Cecil Harris
(Aston Villa FC & Grimsby Town FC, 1922-27), Great uncle of goalkeeper, Chris Woods. Various members of the Houghton clan played football also, including Roy (Notts County 1938)


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990].

Management Career

Club(s) Stepped into the manager's shoes at Notts County FC after he retired from playing on 25 May 1949 until he tended his resignation on 17 August 1953, effective from 31 August. A month later, on 3 September, he returned to Aston Villa FC as their new manager, and he remained until his resignation on 18 November 1958. After scouting for Walsall FC, he was rumoured to be becoming Billy Walker's assistant at Nottingham Forest FC in April 1959, instead, he was employed as their Chief Scout on 16 July 1959 and remained until a row with manager Andy Beattie forced his resignation on 12 November 1960. Appointed as Southern League side Rugby Town FC secretary-manager on 14 February 1961. On November 1961, Houghton turned down a lucrative offer (£50 per week) to manage Division Two side Charlton Athletic FC. He remained with Rugby until he handed in his resignation on 16 January 1964, effective from the end of the season, citing lack of public support for the club. On 29 July, he returned to Aston Villa FC, as the full-time organiser of the Villa Supporters' Association Fund Raising Competition. Rejoined Walsall FC as a director on 10 January 1966. Returned to Aston Villa FC again, this time as a director on 27 September 1972, as Doug Ellis won his boardroom battle. Another battle for the Villa Park boardroom ensued in November 1979, with Houghton giving up the battle and announcing his retirement on 30 November, effective from 31 December. Re-joined Walsall FC as general secretary in the early part of the 1980's.
Club honours Football League Division Three (South) winners 1949-50; FA Cup winners 1956-57; FA Charity Shield runners-up 1957;

England Career

Player number One of five who became the 553rd players (557) to appear for England.
Position(s) Outside-left
First match No. 173, 20 October 1930, England 5 Ireland 1, a British Championship match at Bramall Lane, Highfield, Sheffield, aged 20 years 113 days.
Last match No. 184, 7 December 1932, England 4 Austria 3, a friendly match at Stamford Bridge, Fulham Road, Fulham, London, aged 22 years 161 days.
Major tournaments British Championship 1930-31, 1931-32;
Team honours British Championship shared 1930-31, winners 1931-32;
Individual honours England Junior (1928)
Distinctions His second England goal, the penalty kick against Belgium, 16 May 1931, made him the youngest at the time to take a penalty-kick, and the youngest to score from one, 20 years 321 days.

Beyond England

Remained in football in some capacity throughout his life. He was awarded MCC's advanced coaching certificate in 1971. - An English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Douglas Lamming (1990). Hatton Press, p.136/7.

England Disgrace

"William Eric Houghton, of Billingborough, was summoned for not having a Road Fund licence in the prescribed position on a motor-cycle, at Billinghborough, on May 9th.--Pleaded Guilty.―Sergt. Sayer stated defendant, who was riding his cycle with the licence exhibited on the right handlebar, said he thought that as long as he had the licence exhibited he was complying with the regulations. When told he was in the wrong, defendant said he would have the licence put right. Witness added that the defendant, within a few minutes of being stopped, altered the position of the licence. The Chairman said they accepted the statement of the constable, and the case would be dismissed." - Saturday, 8 June 1929, The Grantham Journal.

England Tragedy

"Eric Houghton, Aston Villa's left-winger, played at Burnley last night under the shadow of bereavement. The day previously his six-month-old son {Robert] died following an operation." - Wednesday, 6 April 1938, The Birmingham Gazette
[The funeral was on Thurdsay, 7 April]


Eric Houghton - Career Statistics
Squads Apps comp. apps mins. Goals goals ave.min comp. goals Capt. Disc.
7 7 4 630 5 126 min 3 none none
minutes are an approximation, due to the fact that many matches rarely stick to exactly ninety minutes long, allowing time for injuries and errors.


Eric Houghton - Match Record - All Matches
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
Home 3 3 0 0 12 4 +8 0 1 4.00 1.333 100.0 +3
Away 4 3 0 1 16 8 +8 0 1 4.00 2.00 75.0 +2
All 7 6 0 1 28 12 +16 0 2 4.00 1.714 85.7 +5


Eric Houghton - Match Record - By Type of Match
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
British Championship 4 4 0 0 18 3 +15 0 2 4.50 0.75 100.0 +4
Friendly 3 2 0 1 10 9 +1 0 0 3.333 3.00 66.7 +1
All 7 6 0 1 28 12 +16 0 2 4.00 1.714 85.7 +5


Eric Houghton - Match Record - Tournament Matches
British Championship Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 1930-31 2 2 0 0 9 1 +8 0 1 4.50 0.50 100.0 +2
BC 1931-32 2 2 0 0 9 2 +7 0 1 4.50 1.00 100.0 +2
BC All 4 4 0 0 18 3 +15 0 2 4.50 0.75 100.0 +4
All Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 4 4 0 0 18 3 +15 0 2 4.50 0.75 100.0 +4
All 4 4 0 0 18 3 +15 0 2 4.50 0.75 100.0 +4

Match History

 Club: Aston Villa F.C. - seven full appearances (630 min), five goals

F.A. International Selection Committee - seven full appearances (630 mn)x

Age 20
1 173 20 October 1930 - England 5 Ireland 1, Bramall Lane, Sheffield BC HW Start 40 ol
2 174 22 November 1930 - Wales 0 England 4, The Racecourse, Wrexham BC AW Start ol
3 176 14 May 1931 - France 5 England 2, Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, Paris tour AL Start ol
4 177 16 May 1931 - Belgium 1 England 4, Stade DC Bruxelles, Bruxelles AW Start 42 ol

Age 21
5 178 17 October 1931 - Ireland 2 England 6, Windsor Park, Belfast BC AW Start r60,85 ol
6 181 9 April 1932 - England 3 Scotland 0, Empire Stadium, Wembley BC HW Start ol

Age 22
7 184 7 December 1932 - England 4 Austria 3, Stamford Bridge, Fulham Fr HW Start 77 ol


When Eric Houghton kicked a football, it was sensible not to stand in its path. Between the wars, as an Aston Villa and England left-winger, he established a reputation as one of the most destructively powerful marksmen the game had seen. Off the pitch, though, the author of those famously violent strikes was a mild and courteous fellow, and throughout his subsequent career as a manager, the highlight of which was leading his beloved Villa to FA Cup glory in 1957, he ruled by a quiet strength of character which earned him widespread respect.

Houghton had seemed destined for a life in soccer since his teenage days as a prodigiously prolific centre-forward who revelled in turning out for his school on a Saturday morning, then playing for his village side in the afternoon. After excelling in local non-League circles, notably with Boston Town, he was recommended to Aston Villa by an uncle who had once played for the club, signing amateur forms in 1927 and giving up a bakery job to turn professional a year later.

Having been converted into a flankman - Villa were magnificently served in the centre by the revered "Pongo" Waring - Houghton gained rapid promotion to the senior side, uncharacteristically missing a penalty on his debut in January 1930 but impressing generally with his dashing style, his slick manipulation of the ball and, above all, his shooting prowess.

Clearly the eager rookie offered immense promise, but no one expected the Houghton star to ascend quite so instantly as it did during the season of 1930-31, in which he scored 30 times as Villa finished as First Division runners-up, and he was rewarded by an England call-up. He netted in that game, too, a 5-1 victory over All Ireland, and could count himself unlucky that his prime coincided with that of Arsenal's Cliff Bastin, whose brilliance ended Houghton's international involvement only two years later.

At club level, however, the Villa man continued to flourish, and he played a major part in the club's Second Division championship triumph of 1938. All the while the Houghton "howitzer" grew in renown and he became a dead- ball specialist, many of the 170 senior goals he netted before leaving Villa Park in 1946 having come from penalties and free-kicks.

Houghton's new club was lowly Notts County, for whom he played until 1949 when he took over as manager and, with England centre-forward Tommy Lawton at his disposal, led them to the Third Division (South) title in his first campaign at the helm. Three terms of unspectacular consolidation followed before he took the job closest to his heart, that of bossing Aston Villa. Quietly but firmly, he set about revitalising a once-great club now fallen on mediocre times. He gave youngsters a chance and he spent heavily on well-known recruits, but could not achieve his ambition of mounting a realistic championship challenge.

There was uplifting consolation in 1957, though, when the Villans upset the odds to beat newly-crowned League champions Manchester United in the FA Cup Final, albeit in controversial circumstances after United's goalkeeper was seriously injured. However, hopes that the Wembley victory would inspire a general recovery were dashed and, with his side struggling near the foot of the table, a sad Houghton was sacked in November 1958.

Thereafter the popular Eastcountryman joined Nottingham Forest as chief scout and bossed non-League Rugby Town in the early 1960s, before serving Walsall in various capacities, including director. Next he enjoyed a second return to Villa Park, pioneering the club lottery before taking a seat on the board for seven years from 1972, and in 1983 was elevated to senior vice-president.

Houghton - who in his youth had been a sporting all-rounder proficient enough at cricket to play for Lincolnshire at Minor Counties level and Warwickshire Seconds - retained his fervour for football to the end, watching Villa regularly at senior, reserve and youth level until ill health curtailed his activity during the current season. He never tired of reminiscing with supporters, never refused to sign an autograph, was never less than a perfect gentlemen. When Eric Houghton died, Aston Villa lost one of their most loyal servants and an ambassador of immeasurable worth. - The Independant Obituary