The Sports Archives – What’s In a Name?

Red Devils, Toffees, Hatters, Gunners, Blades, Canaries….English football clubs have a plethora of nicknames beloved by their supporters.

But how did they come about?

Many revolve around team colours – like Manchester United’s Red Devils and Man City’s Sky Blues.

Some come from their home towns and the industry around them, like the hat makers of Luton and the cutlery manufacturers of Sheffield.

And some have monikers whose origins have simply become lost in the mists of time.

Here are a few to whet the appetite:

Everton Toffees – from a sweetshop near their home at Goodison Road

Ipswich Tractor Boys – from local links to agriculture

Not Just a Play on Words

West Ham Hammers – not just a play on words; crossed hammers on the club crest signify iron-making tools used by original founders Thames Ironworks

Southampton Saints – from the local St. Mary’s Church Young Men’s Association

Norwich Canaries – originally due to the local popularity of breeding canaries; also associated with the team’s bright canary yellow strip

Middlesbrough Smoggies – refers to the industrial pollution from steel and chemical plants surrounding the town

Bolton Wanderers Trotters – possibly from their 19th century pitch situated next to a piggery. Players had to ‘trot’ through the pigsties to retrieve wayward balls

Chelsea Pensioners – originally a tribute to the war veterans living at the nearby Royal Chelsea Hospital

West Bromwich Albion Baggies – either from the players’ baggy trousers in the club’s early days, or named after the ‘bagmen’ who carried the matchday takings away from the turnstiles in large leather bags

Charlton Athletic Addicks – a corruption of ‘haddocks’ in reference to the local chip shop

Come On You Blues

Birmingham City Blues – from the colour of the club kit

Sheffield United Blades – from the club’s links to the local steel and cutlery industry

Arsenal Gunners – a reference to the local military arsenal – the club’s founders were workers at the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory

Plymouth Argyle Pilgrims – named after those who set sail for the New World from the south coast port

Watford Hornets – from the colour of the strip

Blackpool Seasiders – the club is based in the tourist resort on the northwest coast

Newcastle Magpies – from the black and white home strip; also known as the ‘Toon’ from the local pronunciation of ‘town.’

Stoke City Potters – a reference to the local pottery industry in Staffordshire

Nicki Williams is an armchair football fan writing for Gear-Zone, specialists in sportswear and equipment for football, cricket, rugby, tennis, fitness, running and athletics

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