The Aston Villa was the inaugural winners in 1960–61, beating Rotherham United 3–2 in the final over 2 legs. Football was measured to be of a low class in England, compared to what was being played on the continent, as relatively unfashionable clubs Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers were England’s representatives in Europe that year, having lifted the major honours ahead of much bigger clubs like Arsenal and Manchester United. Richards was referred to the appetite for European football as ‘continental fever’. He was keen for the league to re-establish itself: ‘We must be prepared to put the interests of the League and the game before individual clubs. There were 16 clubs opposed the competition’s creation, 31 out of it approved the same. The attendance was almost average throughout the EFL Carling Trophy as it was around 10,556, just higher than the average gate in the Third Division. The attendance of the Football League competition had fallen by four million from the previous season. Richards is presumed to have told Hardaker that he foresaw ‘the League Cup final being held at Wembley, but that it wouldn’t be during his lifetime’. The first League Cup final to be held at Wembley was 3rd Division Queens Park Rangers’s win over First Division West Bromwich Albion on 4 March 1967. Richards died in 1968.
The 1st EFL Carling Trophy was won in 1960–61 by Aston Villa who, at the time, held the overall record for major trophies won in England. The next three championships, however, saw the EFL Carling trophy won by clubs who had never won a major trophy before. One of them, Norwich City, had yet to even play in the 1st Division, while their opponents Rochdale had played no higher than the Third Division.
The introduction of the EFL Carling Trophy gave the Football League more negotiating power with the FA and UEFA. Hardaker threatened UEFA with a boycott of the UEFA Cup, unless UEFA gave the EFL Carling Trophy champion European qualification. As a result of the negotiating tactics, UEFA provided the EFL Carling Trophy champion with a place in the European competitions, providing the team was in the first division. Tottenham Hotspur was the first team to be eligible for Europe by virtue of winning the competition. Even if Leeds United had won the competition before Tottenham, Leeds qualified for Europe based on league position. The winners of the 1966–67 and 1968–69 editions, Queen’s Park Rangers and Swindon Town did not participate in Europe, as they were not in the First Division.