Dennis Hodgetts was born in Birmingham on 28th November 1863. He played football for The Dreadnought, Birmingham St George's and Great Lever before joining Aston Villa in 1886.
Aston Villa did very well in the 1886-87 season. They lost very few games and scored over 130 goals in the process. Stars of the team included Archie Hunter, Albert Brown and Howard Vaughan. Aston Villa also had a good run in the 1886-87 FA Cup. They beat Wolverhampton Wanderers (2-0), Horncastle (5-0), Darwen (3-2) and Glasgow Rangers (3-1) to reach the final for the first time. Their local rivals, West Bromwich Albion, also reached the final.
The final was to be played at the Kennington Oval. The experienced Archie Hunter believed that this ground would be to the advantage of Aston Villa: "Our style of play is suited to a big ground, and the Albion with their long passing have the advantage on a small field. On the Oval we both shall have an equal chance, and where things are equal the short passing game is always the best. These are my reasons for thinking we will win on Saturday."
West Bromwich Albion was the better team in the first-half. However, in the second-half Aston Villa took control and it was no surprise when Richmond Davis, the team's outside-right, crossed for Dennis Hodgetts to sidefoot the ball in the net. WBA players claimed that Hodgetts was offside but the referee, Francis Marindin, who was also president of the Football Association, refused to change his mind.
In the 89th minute Archie Hunter raced through the West Bromwich Albion defence. He appeared to have pushed the ball too far ahead of him and the WBA goalkeeper, Bob Roberts, dashed forward but Hunter, stretching to the full, managed to get one final touch on the ball. As Hunter and Roberts collided the ball trickled over the line. Hunter was the first player to score in every round of the FA Cup competition.
Hodgetts won his first international cap for England against Wales on 4th February, 1888. The England team included Fred Dewhurst, John Goodall, Bob Howarth and George Woodhall. England won the game 5-1. He also played in the games against Scotland (5-0) and Ireland (5-1) that season.
The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. Preston North End won the first championship that year without losing a single match and acquired the name the "Invincibles". Eighteen wins and four draws gave them a 11 point lead at the top of the table. Aston Villa finished in second place with 29 points. Hodgetts scored 7 goals in 17 games.
As Tony Matthews points out in his book, Who's Who of Aston Villa: "Hodgetts was a born footballer, very powerful, who could also play both inside and outside left, but preferring the latter. With his immaculately waxed moustache and parted hair, he was a star performer, adored by the fans. Strong, decisive, clever with many original ideas, he could use both feet, was difficult to dispossess and could unleash a terrific shot."
Aston Villa also had a good run in the FA Cup beating Heanor Town (4-1), Darwen (2-0), Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-1) and Sunderland (4-1) to reach the final against West Bromwich Albion. In his book, Association Football in Victorian England, Philip Gibbons argues that: "Villa dominated the early proceedings, with Athersmith and John Devey exerting pressure on the Albion fullbacks. However, the West Bromwich side soon responded as Billy Bassett passed to Roddy McLeod, who crossed the ball to the waiting Geddes. He shot towards the Villa goal and Warner failed to collect the ball clearly. It rolled between the Villa goalposts to secure a surprising one-goal lead for the Albion team."
Billy Bassett was also involved in WBA's second goal. He won the ball on the halfway line and after running at the Aston Villa defence he passed to Alf Geddes. His shot was saved but the goalkeeper could not hold onto the ball and Sammy Nicholls had the simple task of scoring from the rebound. Jack Reynolds scored the third with a shot from 25-yards.
Aston Villa finished in 4th place in the 1892-93 season. Once again John Devey was the top scorer with 19 goals in 30 matches. Hodgetts was fourth in the list with 8 goals.
Aston Villa won the First Division of the Football League championship in the 1893-94 season. The club scored 84 goals in 30 games. The main contributors included John Devey (20), Dennis Hodgetts (12) and Charlie Athersmith (10). Defenders, James Cowan (centre-half), Jack Reynolds (right-half) and Willie Groves (left-half) were also key members of the team.
Dennis Hodgetts won the last of his six international caps against Ireland on 3rd March 1894. The England team that day included Jimmy Crabtree, John Devey, Bob Holmes, Johnny Holt, Bob Howarth, Joe Reader, Jack Reynolds and Fred Spiksley.
In the 1894-95 season Aston Villa finished in 3rd place in the First Division of the Football League. The club scored 82 goals in 30 games. Top scorers were John Devey (19) and Stephen Smith (13). Dennis Hodgetts scored 11 in 25 games.
Aston Villa had victories over Derby County (2-1), Newcastle United (7-1), Nottingham Forest (6-2), Sunderland (2-1) to reach the 1895 FA Cup Final against West Bromwich Albion. The Villa outside-left, Robert Chatt, scored the only goal of the game after 39 seconds. Hodgetts had won his second cup winners' medal.
Aston Villa also won the First Division title in 1895-96. For the first time since he joined the club, Devey was not top scorer. He only scored 16 goals, whereas Johnny Campbell, who had been signed from Celtic, managed to net 26. Other members of these outstanding team included Charlie Athersmith, James Cowan, John Cowan, Jack Reynolds, Jimmy Crabtree, Howard Spencer and Stephen Smith.
As Philip Gibbons pointed out in Association Football in Victorian England: "Aston Villa had twice won the League Championship, as well as the FA Cup, during the three previous seasons, with a team generally acknowledged as the finest in the land."
Dennis Hodgetts left Aston Villa in August 1896. During his time at the club he scored 91 goals in 215 games.
After playing for Small Heath he returned to coach the club in 1899. However, after one season, he became the licensee of the Salutation Inn in Aston. Hodgetts also served as vice president of Aston Villa (1910-1945).
Dennis Hodgetts died in Birmingham on 25th March 1945.