“Hilarity with Heraldry” (4)

Last time we were looking at the old badges of mainly football clubs in the late 1950s and early 1960s:

As well as coats of arms, animals, birds and flowers, some football clubs have a story behind their badge.

The English FA Cup Final was played from 1895 onwards near to the famous Crystal Palace Exhibition building. The owners of the latter attraction wanted other things for the tourist to do (or rather, to pay to do) and so a football team was formed. It was called, rather imaginatively, “Crystal Palace Football Club”:
Here’s the building and the badge:

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Heart of Midlothian was a team formed in Edinburgh by a group of dance loving friends from the Heart of Midlothian Quadrille Assembly Club. Midlothian is a Scottish county and the Heart of Midlothian is a heart-shaped mosaic in the pavement near St Giles Cathedral in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. People spit on it for good luck, so don’t go too close if you visit it. The pavement can be treacherous:

Another Scottish club, Third Lanark, went out of business in 1967. They began as the football team of the Third Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers on December 12th 1872. The soldiers were inspired by the first ever international match between England and Scotland just two weeks previously:

Three teams at least display the Moslem symbol of the crescent moon and star. There are many, many explanations offered for Portsmouth:

The rugby club Saracens supposedly adapted the emblem because of the “endurance, enthusiasm and perceived invincibility of Saladin’s desert warriors”. More likely is the fact that the other local team was already called the Crusaders:

The best story is that of Irish football team, Drogheda United. Around a million people perished in the Great Potato Famine in Ireland in 1847. The Ottoman Emperor, Sultan Abdülmecid I, sent three ships full of food to Drogheda and a gift of £10,000. This wonderful gesture was praised worldwide. Even Queen Victoria had sent only £2,000.

No problem about embarrassment for the Queen of Mean, though. The Ottoman Emperor was asked by the British Government to reduce his gift to £1,000 so that the impoverished Queen of England and Empress of India was not embarrassed by her own frugality.

The Sultan was not forgotten though, and the crescent and star went onto the city’s badge and in 1919, that of the football club:

In a Festival of Original Thought, a lot of badges are formed merely from initial letters. These here are the rather imaginative badges of Blackburn Rovers Supporters Club, Hartlepool United Football Club, Headingley Football Club (who play rugby), the Scottish team, Stranraer Football Club and Watford Football Club:

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When the letters are really seriously tangled, though, it gets a lot more difficult. Try sorting, one from another, “Edinburgh Academical Football Club” and “St Johnstone Football Club”, from Perth in Scotland. I have deliberately removed the name of one club:

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Three badges, I thought, were just plain strange. They were Bective Rangers, a rugby club from Dublin:

Second was Stockport County near Manchester. Does the shield have three diamonds on it? And why?

The last one is a Scottish club called Dunfermline Athletic. Ever since I glued it into my Tiger album of football club badges in 1961, it has haunted me. No idea why!

I checked in Wikipedia and I wasn’t far wrong

“The current Dunfermline Athletic badge was created in 1957 by Colin Dymock, an art teacher at Dunfermline High School. It was allegedly inspired by one of his nightmares. The tower is Malcolm Canmore’s Tower, adopted by the town of Dunfermline for its own coat of arms. Malcolm Canmore was King of Scotland from 1057-1093, and lived in what is now Pittencrieff Park. The park is represented by the stormy, ghostly blue and black night scene behind the tower, including the park’s infamous hanging tree. The green area represents the club’s stadium.”


Filed under Football, History, Personal

10 responses to ““Hilarity with Heraldry” (4)

  1. That Crystal Palace is a magnificent building. It appears the Emperor of the Ottoman Empire practiced the Muslim religion as it was meant.

    • Absolutely. There have been periods when Islam flowered and was far more tolerant than the Christianity of the time.
      And yet now, the news programmes struggle to find a conflict which does not involve at least one side which is Muslim. Indeed, after Ukraine v Russia, I’m struggling myself.
      And yet it took me less than ten seconds on google to find:
      “Ma’mun, who came to power in AD813, who was to truly launch the golden age of Arabic science. His lifelong thirst for knowledge was such an obsession that he was to create in Baghdad the greatest centre of learning the world has ever seen, known throughout history simply as Bayt al-Hikma: the House of Wisdom.”

  2. Another fascinating insight into these badges. The history and origins of them are just remarkable and in many cases, so obscure!

    • You are absolutely right. I particularly enjoyed the story of the Ottoman Emperor, Sultan Abdülmecid I who was so much more generous than our future Empress of India. And the badge of Dunfermline Athletic is so strange!

  3. That was absolutely fascinating and in particular I enjoyed the story of the Sultan. History is so cool to revisit.

    • It certainly is! Particularly those little footnotes in history, such as that Ottoman Emperor who just took it into his head to help people thousands of miles away that he would never meet. It’s such a pity that the Islamic rulers of that type are the ones who quickly get forgotten when lunatics such as Isis and the Taliban are on the news night after night.

  4. Jan

    The founders of England’s professional football clubs were not the most imaginative of people when it came to naming their teams were they? A league full of Uniteds, Cities and Towns with club logos by and large borrowed from the front of the town hall.

    • To be honest, I think that the founders of the football teams were often quite imaginative, but the money men preferred them, in time, to adapt a name and an identity which was more in keeping with their improving status and greater importance.
      Today, it is the non-league teams which are often the ones with the more imaginative names as a glance at the Scottish Highland League will show. A while back, I wrote a blog where I listed the often strange names of the opponents of my favourite team, non-league Gresley Rovers. It’s at https://johnknifton.com/2018/06/17/the-end-of-the-war-in-europe-and-church-gresley-4/
      and you will find such gems as Ibstock Penistone Rovers, John Knowles A, Leicester Nomads, Loughborough Brush, Measham Imperial, Midland Woodworkers, Newbold Vernon, Old Dalby and Whitwick Holy Cross.

  5. Jan

    I agree. There must have been something in the water during the second half of the 19th Century that led English public school boys to invent, codify and proselytize just about every major (and minor) sport that we know today.

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