Saturday, July 21, 2007

Football Club Nicknames

With the new footy season only three weeks away and pre-season friendlies and club tours well and truly upon us, I thought it might be time to write a short piece on a source of information that every football supporter can relate nicknames.

The tradition of football clubs having a nickname often extends back to when the club was first created.

In Britain, football club nicknames basically fall into five broad categories:-

1/ Colours - not very imaginative for obvious reasons, e.g The Blues, The Reds, The Sky Blues.

2/ Animals - only slightly more creative, e.g The Rams, The Tigers, The Foxes, The Lions, The Terriers.

Birds are a particularly popular choice, e.g The Eagles, The Seagulls, The Robins, The Magpies, The Owls, The Canaries.

3/ The Town's Traditional Industry - e.g The Hatters, The Irons, The Railwaymen, The Silkmen, The Saddlers, The Chairboys, The Glovers, The Tractor Boys, The Cobblers, The Blades.

4/ Local Landmarks - e.g The Minstermen, The Imps, The Spireites.

5/ The Obscure - Often endlessly debated and ultimately incomprehensible, e.g The Baggies, The Monkeyhangers, The Shakers, The Pilgrims and Posh.

A glance through the League's nicknames is still a pretty reliable guide to 19th-century industrial England, when you could safely assume that shoes came from Northampton, chairs from Wycombe and saddles from Walsall.

From the 1960's some clubs began to discard nicknames that they felt didn't convey the right kind of image.
Such clubs included Chelsea (formerly The Chelsea Pensioners, now The Blues), Crystal Palace (formerly The Glaziers, now The Eagles) and Reading (formerly The Biscuitmen, now The Royals).

Bristol Rovers are officially known as The Pirates, but more commonly as The Gas, after the gasworks next to their former ground at Eastville.

Fans of Everton and Manchester City are these days reluctant users of their given names, The Toffees and The Citizens respectively.

Swansea City, officially The Swans, have also adopted the town's nickname of The Jacks, allegedly after the 1930's lifesaving exploits in Swansea docks of a black retriever called, unsurprisingly Jack.

Charlton have without doubt the least conclusive or decisive club nickname in the league, flirting between The Robins, The Valiants and The Addicks.
The Addicks is a corruption of the word 'haddocks' and named after a local fish and chip shop, and also apparently because a local fish man would shout 'haddocks'..........all very odd!

In 1997 after leaving their Roker Park ground, Sunderland formerly The Rokerites decided to be known as The Black Cats.

More recently a few clubs have adopted more snazzy go-getting names, such as QPR's 'Superhoops', Wimbledon's 'Crazy Gang' and Scottish club Livingston's 'Livi Lions.'
Thankfully football has been largely immune to the American-inspired rebranding efforts that have affected some sports, including rugby league and to a certain degree limited overs cricket.

Scotland has it's own tradition of colourful nicknames, most of which are attached to the more unassuming clubs e.g Forfar (The Loons), Montrose (The Gable Endies), and Arbroath (The Red Lichties).

The general rule of thumb is that the bigger the club the less likely it is to have an intriguing or unusual nickname.
Notable exceptions outside of Britain might be Real Madrid (The Meringues) and Juventus (The Old Lady).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What about a listing of simply the funniest songs from the terrace??