Notable kits of yesteryear
12 September ~ DWS Investments UK – not COWS as it appeared, to near-constant ridicule – is the domestic arm of Deutsche Bank. Between 2004 and 2006 they were Aston Villa's chief shirt sponsor. It was to be a troubled period in the club's history and not just because of this yellow monstrosity. Following a shaky start to 2003-04, David O'Leary's team rallied a sixth-place finish. Only a draw against Southampton and defeat to Manchester United in the final two games kept Villa out of a Champions League spot.
After falling to tenth-place the following year the 2005-06 season started badly, with Villa managing only one win in their first eight games. By October rumours began to circulate that chairman Doug Ellis was looking to sell his controlling stake in the club. Takeover bids by Irish property developers Brian and Luke Comer, as well as former pro Ray Ranson, were mooted but no agreement was reached. Amid such uncertainty, DWS Investments UK announced in January 2006 that they had no intention of renewing their sponsorship deal.
On the field Villa flirted with relegation, eventually clawing their way to a 16th-place finish that cost O'Leary his job. With supporter unrest growing, Ellis agreed to sell the club to American businessman Randy Lerner, who installed Martin O'Neill in the dugout and poured millions of pounds into the club in pursuit of the Champions League, a chase that was never quite successful. Joe Sharratt