Friday, July 15, 2011

On the Facts: The Origin of EPL Club Nicknames

Supporters of Premier League clubs often pride themselves on their nicknames, but do you really know the origin of them? Do you know the origins of the Baggies, Gunners, Red Devils, Toffees, Trotters, Hammers, Lilywhites and Citizens?
Let’s take a closer at look some of the interesting stories behind each of Premier League club’s nicknames.
Arsenal – The Gunners


Like many, Arsenal’s nickname goes right back to when the club was originally founded. Way back in 1886, workers at Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory decided to form a football club called Dial Square. The club would be renamed as Woolwich Arsenal before dropping the prefix in 1913, but their original connection with the armament industry would remain and the names Gunners is now synonymous with the club.
Aston Villa – Villans
Not the most fascinating story behind this one. Formed when a local cricket team Villa Cross needed something to occupy themselves during the winter months, the name Villa inevitably evolved to Villans.
Blackburn Rovers – Rovers
Again not the most imaginable nickname. Rovers is a common team name for a side which is willing to travel distances for victory. Logically fans shortened the clubs name to Rovers.
Bolton Wanderers – Trotters
There are a few reported explanations for this one. One explanation claims that like Rovers, the term Wanderers implies a side is willing to travel great distances for victory. The term Trotters is simply a variation. Another explanation claims that the Trotters nickname originates because people from Bolton have a reputation for being practical jokers. Pranksters are known locally as Trotters. The most bizarre explanation claims that an old ground was built next to a pig farm and stray balls would end up with the pigs.
Chelsea – Pensioners
The nickname comes from the well known Chelsea Pensioners – war veterans living in a nearby hospital. In 1905 the club adopted the crest of  the Chelsea pensioners, and the nickname followed on.
Everton – The Toffees
The famous nickname comes after a local sweet shop known as Mother Noblett’ sold and advertised the Everton mint. The sweet shop is located opposite Prince Rupert’s Tower, which forms the majority of the Everton crest.
Fulham – Cottagers
This nickname originates from the famous cottage which is an iconic part of Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground.
Liverpool – The Reds
Another nickname which doesn’t take two much explanation. When Liverpool adopted the city’s colour of red as the colour of their strip, the nickname of the Reds simply followed on.
Manchester City – Citizens/ The Blues
Again not the most fascinating story behind this nickname, the name Citizens has simply evolved from the term City, where as The Blues has obvious connections with the clubs home colours.
Manchester United – The Red Devils
A few conflicting stories describe the Red Devils nickname. One rumor suggests that during a tour of France in the 1960s the club were branded the Red Devils due to their red kit and Sir Matt Busby liked the name so much he asked for the club to incorporate a devil in the badge. Another story suggests it stems from local rugby Salford. The rugby club were nicknamed the Red Devils and with United formally training in Salford the nickname transferred over.
Newcastle United – Magpies / The Toon
The name Magpies originates from the clubs iconic black and white striped kit, where as ‘The Toon’ comes from a local pronunciation of town.
Stoke City – Potters
A fairly straightforward nickname that originates from the large connection with the pottery industry in North Staffordshire.
Sunderland – The Black Cats
In 1997 when Sunderland moved to the Stadium of Light the clubs supporters were also given the opportunity to vote on the clubs official nickname. With 11,000 votes the club announced their official nickname as ‘The Black Cats’.  The historical link with black cats goes way back to the 1800’s with a River Weir artillery base named “Black Cat Battery”. This name reportedly developed after a member of the local militia who was manning the station fled after thinking a black cat was a devil incarnate because of the howling wind and full moon at the time.
Fast-track to 1905 and a black cat was pictured sitting on a football next to the club chairman at the time, and three years later a black cat would appear in the clubs team photo. The fans believed that the animal brought them good luck and in 1937 Sunderland fan Billy Morris took a black cat to Wembley in his pocket, Sunderland would win their first FA Cup trophy that year. The connection grew even further in the 1960s when a black cat lived at Sunderland’s Roker Park ground and was cared for by the club.
Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs/ Lilywhites
Spurs is obviously a shortened version of Hotspur which comes from the clubs connection with Shakespeare character Harry Hotspur. Lilywhites simply comes from the colour of Tottenham’s home shirt.
West Brom – Baggies
One of the most debated nicknames around is West Brom’s. The popular belief is that the name originated from the baggie shorts that the players wore around in the early 1900s. But club historian Toby Matthews claims: “In its early days The Hawthorns had only two entrances, one behind each goal. On match days the gatekeepers would gather up the takings at each end and be escorted by policemen along the sides of the pitch to the centre line where there was a small office under the stand.
“The gate money, mostly in pennies, amounted to a considerable sum and was carried in large cloth bags. It wasn’t long before some wag in the crowd started shouting “Here come the bag men!” at their appearance in front of the main stand, and this developed into a chant of “Here come the Baggies,” giving the team its nickname.
Wigan Athletic – Latics
Wigan are not on their own with this nickname with League 1 side Oldham Athletic also claiming it. Latics is simply a corruption of the world Athletic.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – Wolves
Probably the most unimaginative nickname out of the bunch, but the most commonly used. Most football fans will know the Midlands club as Wolves, and there is no prize guessing why!
Credit to Mr James Beckett from epltalk.com

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