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Names Explained - Part 3
Home > Football Culture > Archives > Names Explained 3

Town

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
Cheltenham Town, England
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

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
Ballymena United, Northern Ireland
Cambridge United, England
Christchurch United, New Zealand
D.C. United, USA
Dundee United, Scotland
Galway United, Republic of Ireland
Jasper United, Nigeria
JEF United, Japan
Leeds United, England
Newcastle United, England
Okwahu United, Ghana
Oxford United, England
Seba United, Jamaica
Sheffield United, England
St Michel United, Seychelles
Sunrise Flacq United, Mauritius
Supersport United, South Africa
Suzuki Newtown United, St Kitts & Nevis
Sydney United, Australia

Wanderers

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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