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Club Names Explained

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.


Are you an Albion fan? Or perhaps it's United? This article looks at the extensions that clubs all over the world have adopted, what they mean and where they originated. 
Albion is an ancient name for Britain, much used in poetry. Its strangest use in football is for the team from the small town of Coatbridge in Scotland, which calls itself Albion Rovers (a bit like being called City United, or County Athletic).
West Bromwich Albion, England
West Bromwich Albion were founded in 1878 and were also a founder member of the first Football League in 1888. They were First Division Champions, now the Premier League, in 1919-20. They have also won the FA Cup five times. They have been at their ground, the Hawthorns, since 1900.
Stirling Albion, Scotland
They were formed in 1946 following the bombing of King's Park FC during the Second World War. Stirling hold the British record for number of goals scored in a match. They beat Selkirk 20-0 in December 1984!
Other Albions
Albion Rovers, Scotland
Brighton and Hove Albion, England
Athletic has nothing to do with athletics, but is meant to convey a sense of fitness and strength. It does not always succeed. As a Lancashire (in England) cynic once quipped, 'Oldham Athletic - isn't that a contradiction in terms?' (implying that the Oldham Athletic team isn't fit and strong at all!). 
Oldham Athletic, England
Oldham were formed in 1895 and were in the top division in England when it became the Premier League in 1992-3. They were minutes away from an FA Cup Final appearance in 1994, when Mark Hughes of Manchester United volleyed an equaliser and forced a semi-final replay. Oldham lost and have since struggled.
Forfar Athletic, Scotland
Formed originally in 1881 as a local textile workers team, the "loons" joined a local side, Angus FC, to form Angus Athletic by 1883. However, the "loons" drew bigger crowds than the supposed first team and they broke away to form Forfar Athletic later that year.
Other Athletics
Athletic Club, Spain (thanks to Felipe Turpin, Spain)
Charlton Athletic, England
Cork Athletic, Republic of Ireland
Djoliba Athletic, Mali
Dunfermline Athletic, Scotland
Lija Athletics, Malta
St Patrick's Athletic, Republic of Ireland
Wigan Athletic, England
Hull City AFC, England (thanks to Richard Salthouse, England)
City can only be applied to British clubs that represent an area with official "city" status. Therefore it must have a cathedral or have been granted a Royal Charter. Any club could theoretically call itself United. However, not every city has a club called city. There are, for example, no clubs called Glasgow City (Scotland) or Liverpool City (England).
Bristol City, England
Bristol South End were formed in 1894 and became Bristol City in 1897. In 1905 City won 14 successive league games, which is still a joint record, held with Preston North End and Manchester United.
Manchester City, England
Became Manchester City in 1894 and have had an up and down history. Success follows disaster at this club, though they have been League Champions twice and won the FA Cup four times. In 1997-98 Manchester City slipped to the Second Division, two leagues below the Premiership. Despite this, their attendance averaged 27, 000. They moved back into the Premier League in 2000.
Other Cities
Adelaide City, Australia
Awassa City, Ethiopia
Birmingham City, England
Bradford City, England
Brechin City, Scotland
Cardiff City, Wales
Chester City, England
Cork City, Republic of Ireland
Coventry City, England
Derry City, Republic of Ireland
Exeter City, England
Hull City, England
Leicester City, England
Lincoln City, England
London City, Canada
Norwich City, England
Stoke City, England
Swansea City, Wales
Waitakere City, New Zealand
York City, England
County is a term for one of the traditional regions of Britain. Cricket teams are organised by counties (Sussex, Warwickshire, Yorkshire and so on). Regional football associations are also arranged into counties. To be part of the 'county set' in English social life is to be thought of as rather posh. None of this means anything in football. For example, there is no county called Stockport, but there is still a club called Stockport County.
Derby County, England
Derby County were a founder member of the Football League in 1888. They have reached fourCup Finals, winning the trophy in 1946. Their golden era began in the 1970s, when, under the charismatic Brian Clough, they won the First Division title in 1971-72. After Mr Clough's departure, former club captain Dave Mackay took over and led them to a second League title in 1974-75.
Stockport County, England
Formed in 1890, following seven years as a local church team, County joined the league in 1900, but it wasn't until 1905-06 that County established themselves as a league team. In the 1933-34 season Alf Lythgoe scored 52 goals for them, which is still their record. They have kept their name despite Stockport ceasing to be a county in 1974.
Other Counties
Notts County, England
Ross County, Scotland
Rangers in common with rovers and wanderers, are people who move around a lot, particularly in search of plunder, which in football means trophies and glory. The term ranger is also used officially in military and preservation circles. Rangers' teams will be pleased with this because it implies more organisation and purpose than rovers and wanderers.
Glasgow Rangers, Scotland
Rangers are Scotland's most successful club by some margin. By 2000 Rangers had won the Scottish League Championship 47 times, the Scottish Cup 27 times, the League Cup 20 times and in 1971-72, they won their only European trophy, the Cup Winners' Cup. In the seasons of 1931-32 and 1933-34, they scored an incredible 118 goals in 38 League games.
Queen's Park Rangers, England
Another of England's old clubs, QPR changed from St. Jude's in 1886, but it wasn't until 1926-27 that they started wearing their famous blue and white hooped-shirts, though it seemed to distract them, as they forgot to enter the FA Cup that year.
Other Rangers
Berwick Rangers, Scotland
Carrick Rangers, Northern Ireland
Enugu Rangers, Nigeria
Kota Rangers, Brunei
Manning Rangers, South Africa
Nchanga Rangers, Zambia
Rangers International, Tanzania
Rangers, Hong Kong
Rangers, Namibia
Rovers is a term similar to ranger and wanderer, though its meaning has exciting links to pirates. This romantic connotation applies to Rovers teams in that they can travel great distances in search of games and glory. Rover is also a term used in the sport of croquet describing a shot involving the ball going through all the hoops, and it is also the name given to the player who plays such a shot. However, most footballers might distance themselves from this definition.
Blackburn Rovers, England
Blackburn were formed in 1875 and played their first game on December 18 of that year. However, their biggest season was when they became the first team apart from Manchester United to win the Premier League in 1994-95. The combination of Kenny Daglish's management, Colin Hendry's defending and the deadly strike partnership of Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer bought the title to Ewood Park, despite an end of season defeat at Liverpool. Chairman Jack Walker, who invested millions of pounds into his boyhood club, sadly died in 2000.
Bristol Rovers, England
Formed in 1883, Rovers have two of the best nicknames in football: the "pirates" because of their club crest or "the gas", as their old stadium was built next to the local gasworks. Unfortunately, the stadium, in Eastville, Bristol, had to be sold because of financial difficulties. After a few years ground-sharing in nearby Bath, Rovers have returned to Bristol's Memorial Ground, once home to Bristol Rugby Union Club.
Other Rovers
Albion Rovers, Scotland
Doncaster Rovers, England
Napier City Rovers, New Zealand
Raith Rovers, Scotland
Shamrock Rovers, Republic of Ireland
Sligo Rovers, Republic of Ireland
Tranmere Rovers, England
Town is nowadays almost a badge of mediocrity. Football clubs with this name have rarely been world-beaters. The last 'Town' club to win the top division in England was Ipswich Town in 1962. Could the name itself be a curse, or is it simply that towns are no longer big enough to sustain a top-flight team? The last truly mighty club called 'Town' in England was Huddersfield Town, winners of the First Division three seasons in a row, back in the 1920s.
Ipswich Town, England
Formed in 1878, though did not turn professional until 1936. Since then, they have won the League title once in 1961-62. In their Centenary year, 1978, Ipswich won the FA Cup and then the UEFA Cup in 1981. Ipswich Town have also provided two of the England national team's most successful managers: Sir Alf Ramsey, who won the World Cup in 1966 and Bobby Robson, who reached the semi-finals in Italia '90.
Luton Town, England
Formed in the 19th Century, Luton had their best period in the late 1980s. In 1986-87 they achieved their highest league placing: seventh. The following season they won the League Cup, which is England's third trophy, as well as reaching the FA Cup semi-final. They were the first team to play on an astro-turf pitch.
Other Towns
Athlone Town, Republic of Ireland
Grimsby Town, England
Halifax Town, England
Huddersfield Town, England
Macclesfield Town, England
Mansfield Town, England
Newry Town, Northern Ireland
Northampton Town, England
Omagh Town, Northern Ireland
Shrewsbury Town, England
Swindon Town, England
United means that all the members have decided to 'unite' under the same banner. They are committed to the same cause. They are 'united'. For example, there were a number of clubs playing in Newcastle in the 1880s, including Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End. When East End took over the St James' Park ground of West End in 1892 it was decided to adopt a new name that would bring together all the supporters in the city. Hence Newcastle United. In other cases, clubs adopted the name because they liked its sense of purpose. Most famously, Newton Heath FC changed their name to Manchester United in 1902.
Central United FC, New Zealand
This club was formed by Dalmatian immigrants whose love of football gave them a sense of community while they settled into a new country. Their progress was held up, despite good results, because they didn't have a youth or junior team. Once that problem was dealt with, they were promoted from division four to division one in four years, starting in 1984. They won the Chatham Cup in 1997 and 1998. They were also crowned New Zealand Club Champions in 1999.
West Ham United, England
Formed in 1895 as the Thames Ironworks team, the "Irons" became West Ham in 1900. They have won the FA Cup three times and contributed three key players to England's World Cup success of 1966; Bobby Moore, the captain, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.
Other Uniteds
Arcadia United, Zimbabwe
Ayr United, Scotland
Ballymena United, Northern Ireland
Cambridge United, England
Caps United, Zimbabwe
Carlisle United, England
Christchurch United, New Zealand
Colchester United, England
D.C. United, USA
Drogheda United, Republic of Ireland
Dundee United, Scotland
Fontenoy United, Grenada
Galway United, Republic of Ireland
Geylang United, Singapore
Gladstone United, Australia (thanks to Matty Mcgrath)
Gombe United, Nigeria
Hartlepool United, England
Hazard United, Jamaica
Jasper United, Nigeria
JEF United, Japan
Kwara United, Nigeria
Leeds United, England
Leventis United, Nigeria
Mathare United, Kenya
MDC United, Malawi
Newcastle United, England
North Shore United, New Zealand
Okwahu United, Ghana
Oxford United, England
Peterborough United, England
Pettah United, Sri Lanka
Plateau United, Nigeria
Rotherham United, England
Scunthorpe United, England
Seba United, Jamaica
Sheffield United, England
Southend United, England
St Michel United, Seychelles
Sunrise Flacq United, Mauritius
Supersport United, South Africa
Suzuki Newtown United, St Kitts & Nevis
Sydney United, Australia
Torquay United, England
Udoji United, Nigeria
United Petrotin, Trinidad & Tobago
Wanderers are people who roam around from place to place. The first winners of the FA Cup, in 1872, were called simply The Wanderers, a name the club adopted in 1864 after moving from east London to Battersea Park in south London. But the name also conveys the sense of a group of travelling gentlemen who play for pleasure rather than to win - a very English sentiment, particularly in the late 19th Century when most clubs were formed.
Sliema Wanderers, Malta
This side was formed in 1908 out of various local teams in the area. In the 1907-08 season Wolverhampton Wanderers of England won the FA Cup and this influenced the name of the Sliema team. They have since gone on to be league champions over 20 times. They also play for the FA Trophy which was awarded to the Maltese FA by the English FA. This was for the support that the England team got from the Maltese fans during their 1-1 draw with Italy in Rome in 1933. Sliema won the first three competitions and have gone on to win it 13 more times.
Bolton Wanderers, England
Bolton were formed as Christ Church in 1874, but changed to Wanderers in 1877. They won the first FA Cup to be played at Wembley in 1923, the "White Horse Final" in which news cameras recorded a white police horse forcing the huge crowds off the pitch so the game could carry on. There were around 200,000 people inside the stadium, with another 50,000 outside who couldn't get in. Bolton now play at the modern Reebok Stadium.
Other Wanderers
African Wanderers, South Africa
Bray Wanderers, Republic of Ireland
Montevideo Wanderers, Uruguay
Mufulira Wanderers, Zambia
Riodairibord Wanderers, Zimbabwe
Telecom Wanderers, Malawi
Wolverhampton Wanderers, England
Wycombe Wanderers, England

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