I’ve always had a soft spot for the names Dynamo Kiev and Dagenham & Redbridge Harriers. Then there’s the linguistic perfection of the fantastic tongue twister, East Fife 4 Forfar 5. I have a friend who once put on his boots for Harrogate Railway (back in the day, huge rivals of Harrogate Town, who now play in League 2.) The town with the longest name? Well that’s easy, from the Land of My Father’s (i.e. Wales), it’s Clwb Pêl Droed Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Football Club (otherwise known as Llanfairpwll F.C.), writes David Little, a Partner in our Commercial department who increasingly handles Sports Law cases too.
Let’s kick off with Accrington Stanley, a name that instantly transports me to the realms of nostalgia. This Lancashire-based team owes its name to a defunct dairy company, “Accrington Stanley.” In the 1980s, a memorable milk advertisement featuring two young boys discussing football became a cultural sensation. One boy, with a strong northern accent, proclaimed, “Accrington Stanley, who are they?”.
If you’re wondering how a down to earth team like Wigan became Wigan Athletic it was originally founded as a rugby club in 1932, but it later transitioned to football. The addition of “Athletic” to the name was a common convention during that era to distinguish the sport from other activities.
Leyton Orient’s name, might potentially evoke images of exotic cultures and far-off lands, but its connection to the team’s origin is much simpler. Orient is a direct reference to the Leyton district of East London, where the club was founded in 1881. The term “Orient” here is derived from the club’s geographical location in relation to central London, indicating its eastern orientation.
Venturing north to Northumberland, we encounter Blyth Spartans, a team whose name correctly evokes thoughts of ancient Greek warriors battling it out on the pitch. The reality behind their name, however, lies in the club’s formation during a meeting at the Blyth Spartans Sports Ground in 1899. Inspired by the bravery and resilience of the ancient Greek Spartans, the club adopted their name, embodying the qualities they hoped to emulate on the football field.
Non-league football provides an ideal breeding ground for unique team names that often reflect local culture, history, or simply embrace a sense of humour. Sheppey United, the club based on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent has the endearing nickname “The Itchies and Scratchies” due to the island’s reputation for having a higher number of mosquitos compared to other areas.
Ever come across Brimscombe & Thrupp – “The Lilywhites”? The Gloucestershire-based team, might sound like a dynamic comedy duo, but their nickname, “The Lilywhites,” has a more elegant origin. paying homage to the club’s traditional white home kit, which resembles the purity and beauty of lilies.
Atherstone Town, a Warwickshire-based club, strikes fear into the hearts of their opponents with its nickname, “The Adders.” Of course it’s got absolutely nothing to do with venomous snakes. Instead, it refers to the town’s historical association with the leather industry. Atherstone was renowned for producing high-quality leather goods, including saddles. “Adder” is an old English term for a type of leather used in saddlery, making it a clever choice for the team’s moniker.
Located in the picturesque fishing village of Mousehole in Cornwall, Mousehole AFC has a name that brings a smile to the faces of soccer enthusiasts. Their nickname, “The Seagulls,” is a playful reference to the coastal location of the town and the seagulls that frequent the area. It captures the essence of their unique seaside charm, reminding us of the beauty of grassroots soccer and its connection to local communities.
Let me know if I’ve missed any obvious candidates for a list of amusing or interesting names. The Four Four Two website has a glorious article identifying some of the more extreme names from around the world: F C Santa Claus play in Finland. And who could resist an international clash between Prima Ham, Japan v Botswana Meat Commission?
As we celebrate the joys of the new season let’s not forget the laughter and whimsy that daft team names bring to the beautiful game. After all, football isn’t just about the top leagues; it’s about the passion, camaraderie, and delightful surprises that exist in every corner of the UK’s non-league football landscape.
Contact our Sports Lawyer
David Little, is a Partner in the Corporate & Commercial team and also Head of Sports Law for the firm. If you would like to contact him please quote Ref CB411 on either 07968 027343 or 020 7631 4141 or email email@example.com.
The above is accurate as at 21 July 2023. The information above may be subject to change.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.