The
WALTER
PILKINGTON
COLUMN

Whatís In A Name ??

 

It was during a wet afternoon that my son asked me to give him a test on Premier League football team nicknames. When it got to Newcastle United, he thought hard. He knew it was a bird, but couldnít remember which one. " Is it ĎThe Pigeonsí ?" he asked enquiringly. It then set me thinking how teamís nicknames could have turned out if only a strange turn of fate had taken a hand.

Our close rivals could have originally been known as "The Gummers", as the Lead used in munitions manufacture at Woolwich used to swell the flesh inside the mouth, turn it blue and cause the teeth to fall out. Derby County also could have returned to their roots - local public transport routes that is, which terminated near the old Baseball Ground and went back the way they came after rotating on a turntable. Yes, they could easily have become "The Trams".

In Nottingham, you might have discovered that Forest, before they became "Tricky", were simply known as "The Trees". This derived from their massed defence, where you could not see the wood(work) for the Trees. Another nickname that almost arose from their tactics was that of Sheffield Wednesday, whoís stop them at all costs methods nearly earned them the moniker of "The Fowls". One team who could have cleaned up was Blackburn Rovers, who considered taking their nickname from a thriving local factory and become "The Hoovers".

West Hamís old home ground could have been sandwiched between a pet breeding establishment, a metal factory and a chemical plant. All were well established local industries and they were all keen to have the prestige of the Football Clubís nickname reflect their trade. West Ham rejected "The Hamsters" and were left with a straight choice between the remaining two. And so it came to pass, that the East End club became "The Irons" rather than "The Ions". Southampton are another side who might have been associated with a local industry, but they decided "The Paints" didnít sound quite right. Although after their poor early performances, perhaps they should have adopted "The Pants" !!

If Chelsea had been formed by a collection of old boys from a nearby school, they might have become "The Codgers" rather than "The Pensioners" and rather than "The Blues", they were considering changing it to something more trendy in the 60ís and toyed with "The Beat Poets" as a change.

The fox is the well-known symbol of Leicestershire, but having their ground situated in Filbert Street might have persuaded people to call them "The Nutters". Everton Mints are a very popular form of confectionery, but this association nearly lead to them being known as "The Polos" because of the large hole that was evident in the middle of their defence. Across Stanley Park, "The Reds" angered some of the more liberal constituents of Liverpool who tagged them "The Trots" after the legendary Russian revolutionary.

Of all the teams, Middlesbrough nearly landed a nickname which would have been very embarrassing. The area around Ayresome Park was heavily inhabited with rabbits and the local followers called the environs "The Burrows", which was misheard one day and caught on as "The Boro". Leeds were formerly "City" before they became "United". But, back in the old days (i.e. The Seventies), they went under the moniker of "The Professionals" because of their ruthless win-at-all-costs approach to the game. I suppose they were just lucky that it wasnít shortened, then they would have been "The Pros" !!

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