Altrincham fan and media student LUCA POGSON has provided the club's website with the following blog, in which he takes an alternative look at the names the Robins will be coming up against in the season ahead.
What’s in a non-League nickname?
I guess it is straightforward to recognise why Premier League side Chelsea are nicknamed the Blues and why Manchester United are called ‘The Red Devils’, but have you ever wondered why Everton are called ‘The Toffees’ or why Crystal Palace are called The Eagles?
I became so intrigued with the whole history of nicknames and decided to turn my attention to the Vanarama National League North. So here are a few of Altrincham’s rivals, what their nicknames are and where they originated.
AFC Telford - ‘The Bucks’
Based in the West Midlands, Telford is still referred to as a new town built on the land previously known as Dawley in 1969. Now 50-years young, Telford’s history may not be as prolific as some other towns, however in the same year the town was officially recognised, Wellington FC became AFC Telford. The current stadium was built in 2000 on the same site of the previous Bucks Head ground and therefore named after the previous pub, The Bucks Head public house.
Alfreton FC - ‘The Reds’
This is one of the easier ones. Alfreton FC play in red shirts and red shorts, the colour of their home kit.
Blyth Spartans AFC - ‘The Spartans’
One of the oldest teams in the English leagues, Blyth Spartans were founded in September, 1899. Fred Stoker was a physician in London's Harley Street and the club's first secretary. In the hope that the players would give everything they could when they went onto the [battle] field of football, Stoker thought it was appropriate to give the team a reference to the Greek Spartan army. It was commonly accepted that "one Spartan was worth several men of any other state". Blyth is their home town in Northumberland in the north-east of England.
Boston United FC - ‘The Pilgrims’
For those with a knowledge of nautical history, Boston Massachusetts on the east coast of North America was the destination for the Pilgrim Fathers, who left England in 1620 from Plymouth on ‘The Mayflower’. History tells us the Pilgrims originally set out from Boston in Lincolnshire. And that explains why the club's crest is the Pilgrim Fathers' ship 'The Mayflower’.
Bradford (Park Avenue) FC - ‘The Bantams’
Back in 1909, the club was originally known as Manningham FC, based on the main road that is famous in the City of Bradford. Manningham FC’s colours were claret and amber. When the club was renamed Bradford FC, they retained these colours and thought they resembled the plumage of a bird. That bird was to become the bantam, a small but fearless fighting bird.
Chester FC - ‘The Seals’
As far back as 1906, Chester FC were located on Sealand Road, an area and stadium much loved by the fans until 1990 when ‘The Seals’ moved into their new home at The Deva Stadium. Chester FC are also known as ‘The Blues’, the colour of their home kit.
Curzon Ashton FC - ‘The Nash’
Located near Ashton-under-Lyne in the east of Greater Manchester, Curzon Ashton’s third team was formerly known as Ashton National and was based at Curzon Ashton’s ground. Named after the local National Gas & Engine Oil Company, ‘The Nash’ is an abbreviation of either Curzon Ashton or Ashton National.
Darlington FC - ‘The Quakers’
Football has been played at the original Feethams ground in Darlington since 1861 and was originally rented from John Beaumont Pease, a respectable member of the local Quaker community. This led the founder’s religious persuasion to reflect the team’s nickname, ‘The Quakers’.
Farsley Celtic FC - The ‘Celt Army’
It will come as no surprise that The Celt Army is the nickname associated with Farsley. With the shoulder to shoulder tight group mentality, all fighting for the same purpose.
Gateshead FC - ‘The Tynesiders’
With their home overlooking the Tyne River as it flows into the North Sea, it’s no surprise Gateshead are known as ‘The Tynesiders’.
Gloucester City AFC - ‘The Tigers’
Whilst it has not been well reported why Gloucester City adopted ‘The Tigers’ as their nickname, it appears there are moves to remove all reference. In 2019 the tiger on the club motif was replaced with Gloucestershire’s coat of arms, with the kit moving from the yellow and black, [maybe a reference to tigers?] to predominantly black for the new 2019-20 season.
Guiseley FC - ‘The Lions’
From tigers to lions. Whilst media regularly reference the lions with Guiseley AFC “on the prowl” or “licking their wounds’, history does not easily reveal why this club in the north of Leeds, in the county of West Yorkshire, should be nicknamed The Lions. The club crest is a cross and doesn’t incorporate any relevance to a feline big cat. I’ll keep researching.
Hereford FC - ‘The Bulls’
No-one seems to know the exact nickname for Hereford FC, who are known as ‘The Whites’ or ‘The Lilywhites’. No guesses the main colour of their kit is white whilst ‘The Bulls’ is a reference to one of Hereford’s most recognised livestock, the Hereford Bull, which is also represented on their club badge.
Kettering Town FC - ‘The Poppies’
Kettering Town are called the Poppies due to the colour of their home kit being a poppy red. Kettering made history in 2008, with the team winning 30 consecutive games, leading to the success of winning the league.
Kidderminsters Harriers FC - ‘The Kiddies’ and ‘The Carpetmen’
The definition of a harrier is:
a person who engages in persistent attacks on others or incursions into their land.
Formed in 1886, Kidderminster Harriers were a highly successful athletics and rugby union club. An amalgamation in July, 1880 between the athletics club and Clarence rugby club led to the formation of the 'Kidderminster Harriers and Football Club'. As a result, The Kiddies became their nickname. If you do not recognise the reference to The ‘CarpetMen’, you’ll soon make the connection, with Kidderminster being the founding history for England’s carpet history.
King's Lynn Town FC - ‘The Linnets’
So what is a Linnet, nickname to the club based in Norfolk?
Here’s the definition:
a mainly brown and grey finch with a reddish breast and forehead
This explains the small bird captured on the club motif. It also crossed my mind if the association with ‘Lynn’ and ‘The Linnets’ is too close to be a coincidence. By the way, after a long history, this is one of our newest clubs, resurrected in 2010 as King's Lynn Town from a history as King's Lynn FC.
Leamington FC - ‘The Brakes’
One of the most interesting nicknames and one of my favourites, ‘The Brakes’ is the recognised nickname for Leamington FC. The reason for that specific nickname is that Leamington is recognised for the local ‘Automotive product’ factory, which mainly manufactured aircraft brakes. This doesn’t explain the windmill on their club motif. The reason why there is a football seemingly attached to one of the windmill sails is the name of the stadium, close to the Windmill pub.
Southport FC - ‘The Sandgrounders’
I never knew the local population of Southport were known as The Sandgrounders, simply the ground made of sand. Not sure there’s an easy rhyme for the club song with Sandgrounders.
Spennymoor Town FC - ‘The Moors’
Another one of our rival clubs based in the north-east of England, Spennymoor is located in County Durham, adjacent with the North Yorkshire moors. This was originally an expanse of thorny and bushy moorland, hence the nickname: The Moors.
York City FC - ‘The Minstermen’
York has a rich heritage, recognised by its famous minster, hence the Minstermen.
By the way, why a Minster and not a Cathedral? York Minster is both a cathedral and a minster. A minster is a church established during the Anglo-Saxon period as a religious teaching church, usually attached to a monastery.