Outside of the so-called Premier League heavyweights of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Aston Villa are the only sides to have held a top-flight standing throughout the Premier League era.

You would imagine that such a level of consistency would be rewarded somewhere along the line, with a position among English football’s elite notoriously difficult to maintain for any club unable to call upon a billionaire owner and bankrolled by the riches provided by regular appearances in continental competition.

Villa and Everton have, however, continued to fly under the radar somewhat.

There have been highs, cup final appearances and top-four challenges, but nothing tangible to show for their efforts.


That could be all about to change, though, for the Villains, with there now a little over two weeks to go until they will head back to Wembley in an effort to wrestle the FA Cup away from holders Arsenal.

The Gunners ended their own barren run in 2014, with the collective sigh of relief let out around the Emirates after a nine-year wait for major silverware probably audible from space.

That wait was, however, nothing in the grand scheme of things.

For some, the pursuit of success can feel endless, with new generations of supporters nailing their colours to the mask since the last celebration party was held.

That is certainly the case for Villa and their younger followers.

Anyone brought into this world since the summer of 1996 will have no recollection of what it feels like to see claret and blue ribbons adorning a major trophy.

Some of those will recall what it feels like to come close, with FA Cup heartache in the last final to be staged at the old Wembley in 2000 followed by League Cup pain in 2010.

It is, however, now 19 years since Villa last savoured the refreshing taste of success, and some considerable time beyond that since they last hoisted English football’s most prestigious knockout prize aloft.

Only five clubs – the aforementioned ‘heavyweights’ – have graced the FA Cup final on more occasions than Villa, and they will draw level with Chelsea on 11 upon taking to the field on May 30.

Seven victories have been secured in the past, but the last of those came way back in 1957.

Two Peter McParland goals got the job done that day, as Manchester United were edged out 2-1 in front of close to 100,000 spectators.

Wembley should pack around 90,000 under its famous arch at the end of the month, and Villa will be determined to offer the travelling hordes from the West Midlands something to shout about.

FA Cup betting markets and exchanges, such as those at bet365, have them at 5/2 at the time of writing in a two-horse race, but this is the FA Cup and the competition’s fabled ‘magic’ means that anything is possible in a one-off encounter.

Tim Sherwood should have his troops finely tuned by the time the big day arrives, with Premier League relegation fears having eased over recent weeks, and will be drilling into his players the need to seize the moment and make themselves club icons deserving of a standing alongside McParland and co in the annals of Aston Villa history.