|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
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