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British Club Nicknames

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Some British teams have very strange nicknames. Why are Arsenal called the Gunners, who are the Imps? Find out here.
These teams have birds on their club crests and their nicknames have grown from this. The Owls of Sheffield Wednesday have a different reason which is also given.
Bradford City, England
Cardiff City, Wales
Barrow AFC, England (thanks to Rob, England)
Norwich City, England
Black Eagles
Bestika, Turkey (thanks to Kartal, Turkey)
Crystal Palace, England
Newcastle United, England
Notts County, England (thanks to Stuart and Ross, UK)
Sheffield Wednesday, England
Reason: because their ground is in the Owlerton district of Sheffield.
Bristol City, England
Swindon Town, England - because they play in red and white (thanks to Peter Harris and JD, UK)
Brighton & Hove Albion, England
Swansea City, Wales
Yellow Canaries
Fenerbahçe SK Istanbul, Turkey (thanks to Sener Yelkenci, Turkey)
These teams have all taken their nicknames from the colour of their strip.
All Whites
New Zealand national team (thanks to Dale Arnett, US)
Birmingham City, England
Chelsea, England
Chester City, England
Everton, England
Manchester City, England
Stranraer, Scotland
Bournemouth, England


Burnley, England
Dark Blues
Dundee, Scotland
Light Blues
Rangers, Scotland
Arsenal, England
Liverpool, England
Nottingham Forest, England
Sky Blues
Coventry, England
Blackpool, England
These nicknames come from an odd source. They also tend to be unique to one club.
Charlton FC, England
Reason: Addicks derives from the South London slang for the Haddock fish. Accounts vary as to why this became Charlton's nickname but it is likely that it was due to the original teams love of eating Haddock or the fact that they took opponents for a fish supper after the games.
The Arabs
Dundee United, Scotland
Reason: their pitch was really sandy years ago. (thanks to Andrew Boyle)
West Bromwich Albion, England
Reason: the team was formed as a works team for the local iron works and the trousers that the foundry workers wore were called baggies. (thanks to Paul Bird)
Bristol Rovers, England
Reason: their old ground was next to a gasworks.
Reason: The official nickname of the club is the Pirates (from Bristol' s seafaring past and obvious connotations with Rovers). However the nickname of The Gas (not Gasmen) derives from Bristol City fans mocking Rovers for the smell from the Gasworks and singing out "The Gas, the Gas" and holding their noses as if complaining of the smell. Rovers fans reversed this by singing back, "The Gas, The Gas you'll never beat the Gas". Such is the legend!
(thanks to Gerry Prewett, UK)
The Rams
Derby County, England
Reason: so named after a local myth of an 100ft Ram that was said to have appeared in the city. (thanks to Darren Holden)
Red Devils
Manchester United, England
Reason: possibly a modern invention, although some say it is a natural follow-on from the older nickname, Heathens, used when the club was called Newton Heath.
Reading, England
Reason: Reading were for many years the Biscuitmen but, after biscuit-making declined in the town in 1974, a competition was held to choose a new nickname. Royals was chosen because Berkshire is also deemed to be a royal county, being also the home of Windsor Castle.
Bury, England
Reason: asked about his team's chances against the might Blackburn Rovers in the 1892 Lancashire Cup Final, Bury's chairman was reported to have said, 'We'll shake 'em!'
Some teams nicknames came about because of where the club is located or where they play.
Berwick Rangers, Scotland
Reason: although situated just inside England's borders, for convenience Berwick play in the Scottish League.
Carlisle United, England
Reason: they are from the county of Cumbria.
Exeter City, England
Reason: Grecians was the nickname given to local market boys in the area.
Lincoln City, England
Reason: Lincoln's cathedral is famous for its Imp, a stone figure of the devil.
York City, England
Reason: the city's cathedral was originally known as Yorkminster.
Chelsea, England
Reason: British soldiers who have retired to the Chelsea army hospital are known as Chelsea Pensioners. Dressed in their bright uniforms these distinguished old men can be seen at every match at Stamford Bridge, as guests of the club.
Southampton, England
Reason: the club was originally called Southampton St. Mary's.
Blackpool, England
Reason: Blackpool is one of Britain's most known seaside resorts.
Everton, England
Reason: Everton mints, produced in the Liverpool district of Everton, are a popular mint toffee. Before every game at Goodison Park free toffees are thrown into the crowd by the famous Toffee Lady, dressed in a traditional skirt, shawl and hat.
Football in Britain was traditionally followed by members of the working classes. Indeed, many of the stadiums in Britain are built in the heart of working class areas of towns and cities. Most British clubs were founded in the late 19th Century, at a time when the country had become heavily industrialised and rural to urban drift was increasing, as workers sought employment in the factories that were springing up in cities, particularly in the north.
With such massive population shifts, a sense of self-identity became increasingly important to the new urban dwellers when faced with the bleak, industrial landscapes. This identity was found in the shape of the local football team, many of which were founded by local workers from one trade or industry. Here are some of those clubs which were founded by those workers.
Sheffield United, England
Reason: the city of Sheffield is known for its steel manufacture.
Arsenal, England
Reason: the original Arsenal team were munitions workers at Woolwich Arsenal in south east London.
Northampton Town, England
Reason: Northampton was a centre for the shoe-making industry and someone who makes and repairs shoes is known as a Cobbler.
The Drill Fielders
Northwich Victoria, England
Reason: They are sometimes referred to as "The Drill Fielders" - The Drill Field being the name of the ground, and this came from the fact that Northwich has always been a salt-mining town. (thanks to Matt Jones, Thailand)
West Ham United, England
Reason: the first West Ham side were part of Thames Ironworks and an ironmonger's main tool is a hammer.
Grimsby Town, England
Reason: Grimsby is a sea-side town whose main industry is fishing.
The Saddlers
Walsall, England
Reason: Walsall has a long tradition of leather goods and in particular Saddles, many of which are/were provided to Royalty. (thanks to Lin Ashford, UK)
Stockport County, England
Reason: Stockport's large hatting industry. They even have a hat museum. (thanks to Karl Atkinson, UK)
Luton Town, England
Reason: Luton also had a large hat-making industry; a hat is even present on the club crest! (thanks to Sean Wood, UK)



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