HomePREMIER LEAGUEOrigins of Every Premier League Club's Nickname

Origins of Every Premier League Club’s Nickname

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Origins of Every Premier League Club’s Nickname


In the Premier League, each team is distinguished by a unique nickname, ranging from seagulls to wolves. These monikers often reflect the club’s history, location, or even the color of their home kit. Some draw inspiration from the animal kingdom, while others have historical significance.

Football enthusiasts often interchange a club’s nickname with its official title, which can be perplexing for newcomers to the sport. To provide clarity, here’s a guide to the alternative identities of each Premier League club, along with the origins of these intriguing nicknames, which may puzzle even seasoned fans.

Premier League Nicknames
ClubEstablishedNickname
Arsenal1886The Gunners
Aston Villa1874The Villans
Bournemouth1899The Cherries
Brentford1889The Bees
Brighton & Hove Albion1901The Seagulls
Burnley1882The Clarets
Chelsea1905The Blues
Crystal Palace1905The Eagles
Everton1878The Toffees
Fulham1879The Cottagers
Liverpool1892The Reds
Luton Town1885The Hatters
Manchester City1880The Cityzens
Manchester United1878The Red Devils
Newcastle United1892The Magpies
Nottingham Forest1865Forest
Sheffield United1889The Blades
Tottenham Hotspur1882The Lilywhites
West Ham United1895The Hammers
Wolverhampton Wanderers1877Wolves

Arsenal – The Gunners
At just 23 years old, David Danskin gathered 15 individuals to establish the inaugural version of Arsenal Football Club in 1886. Hailing from Fife, Scotland, Danskin had relocated to Woolwich, south London, a year prior to work at a munitions factory. This connection to the arms industry is symbolized by the cannon featured on the club’s original badge.

While Arsenal has been associated with artillery from its early days, the nickname “Gunners” did not become prevalent until the early 20th century. Initially used mockingly to describe the club’s fervent and explosive fanbase, Arsenal eventually embraced the moniker around 1910.

Arsenal
Formation1886
Nickname Origin1910s
LocationLondon
StadiumEmirates Stadium
Aston Villa,


Aston Villa, often referred to as simply Villa, earned their nickname “The Villans” from their origins in the Aston Villa Wesleyan Chapel located at the corner of George Street and Lozells Road, north of Birmingham city center. Initially forming a cricket club in 1872, members of the chapel later expanded into football in 1874 to occupy themselves during the winter months.

The term “Villans” was first applied to the club’s supporters around 1879. This epithet carried connotations of mischief and cunning, perhaps fueled by Aston Villa’s considerable success in the late 19th century, during which they secured five out of the first 12 editions of England’s top flight. The association with the nickname was further solidified when Villa’s programme editor, Jack Urry, introduced a character named ‘the Villa Villan’ in 1905.

Aston Villa
Formation1874
Nickname Origin1870s
LocationBirmingham
StadiumVilla Park

Bournemouth – The Cherries


The Dean family, renowned landowners in Dorset during the 18th and 19th centuries, amassed extensive properties across the region. Among the parcels of land inherited by James Edward Cooper Dean from his second cousin was a plot adjacent to Kings Park, where Bournemouth’s stadium is located. By 1910, the club had outgrown its previous grounds, prompting Dean to lease this wasteland to them for the construction of a new stadium, which was subsequently named in his honor.

While some attribute Bournemouth’s nickname “Cherries” to the cherry orchards scattered throughout the Cooper Dean estate, others suggest that the red stripes on the club’s kit may have also contributed to the association.

Bournemouth
Formation1899
Nickname Origin1910s
LocationBournemouth
StadiumVitality Stadium

Brentford – The Bees


Legend has it that during a match a few years after Brentford’s establishment in 1889, a boisterous group of students, while cheering for the team, coined the chant “Come on you, Bs!” This enthusiastic rallying cry eventually led to the club being affectionately referred to as the “Bs.” However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the club’s crest made its first reference to a bee, featuring a hive in the bottom right corner.

Over the years, the bee motif appeared sporadically on the badge until it became a permanent fixture in 1993. In recent times, Brentford has fully embraced the nickname, as evidenced by the introduction of a new logo in 2016. This updated emblem prominently features a large winged insect at its center, reflecting the club’s commitment to creating a more distinct and recognizable brand identity.

Brentford
Formation1889
Nickname Origin1890s
LocationLondon
StadiumGtech Community Stadium

Brighton & Hove Albion – The Seagulls


Brighton & Hove Albion’s nickname traces back to a peculiar incident involving their rivalry with Crystal Palace. Following a match at Palace’s Selhurst Park in September 1975, where Brighton emerged victorious on the field but faced overwhelming chants of “Eagles!” from the home supporters, Brighton fans felt the need to retaliate. Led by Jeff Walls, a group of supporters held a spirited brainstorming session fueled by alcohol on Christmas Eve of the same year to devise a countermeasure.

Initially, the intention was not to bestow a nickname upon Albion; rather, it was to find a chant that could overpower the Palace fans and give them a taste of their own medicine. Despite previous attempts to adopt monikers like the Shrimps or Dolphins, inspired by the city’s crest, the breakthrough came when someone asked, “What do you call those birds down the seafront?” This question led to the adoption of the ‘Seagulls’ nickname, a choice that has endured through the years.

Brighton & Hove Albion
Formation1901
Nickname Origin1970s
LocationBrighton
StadiumAmerican Express Stadium

Burnley – The Clarets


Burnley’s nickname, the Clarets, stems directly from the color of their shirts. The Lancashire club adopted their distinctive shade of red for their kit, a departure from their original sky blue and white strip worn after their establishment in 1882.

Over the years, Burnley experimented with various kit designs until John Haworth assumed the managerial role in 1910. Displeased with the green kit at the time, Haworth opted to emulate the successful Aston Villa by transitioning the club’s colors to claret and blue. This change proved auspicious as Burnley secured promotion three years later and clinched their inaugural top-flight title in 1921 under Haworth’s guidance.

Burnley
Formation1882
Nickname Origin1910s
LocationBurnley
StadiumTurf Moor

Chelsea – The Blues


In 1933, Ogden’s Cigarettes released a complete set of cards featuring each club’s nickname, asserting confidently that Chelsea had always been known as the “Pensioners.” This association stems from the proximity of the south London club to the Royal Hospital, which houses retired military veterans referred to as Chelsea Pensioners, a connection dating back to the club’s establishment in 1905.

Initially, the club badge featured a bearded pensioner, reflecting this nickname. However, when Ted Drake assumed the managerial role in 1952, the former Arsenal striker sought to dispel the humorous undertones associated with the nickname. Drake remarked that the old joke about playing like pensioners had become tiresome, prompting the adoption of the “Blues” tag, which referenced the club’s enduring kit color, to replace it.

Chelsea
Formation1905
Nickname Origin1950s
LocationLondon
StadiumStamford Bridge

Crystal Palace – The Eagles


During the 1970s, the landscape of British football witnessed a surge of forward-thinking managers eager to assert their influence over clubs. Among them was Malcolm Allison, easily recognizable with his trademark fedora and cigar, who emerged as a prominent figure in this era despite lacking any background in graphic design.

Upon assuming the managerial role at Crystal Palace in the summer of 1973, Allison wasted no time in making significant changes to the club’s kit and crest. Taking inspiration from Barcelona’s iconic vertical red and blue stripes, Allison introduced a new eagle emblem. Palace chairman Ray Bloye justified this redesign by stating that it would “give this club an image – which it has lacked in the past.” This transformation also resulted in a new nickname for the club.

In 2010, the club took their association with the eagle to new heights by introducing a live eagle to be released before home matches, further solidifying their identity.

Crystal Palace
Formation1905
Nickname Origin1970s
LocationLondon
StadiumSelhurst Park

Everton – The Toffees


In the 1750s, Molly Bushell’s ‘Ye Ancient Toffee House’ stood as a prominent landmark near Everton’s original home ground, Anfield. Known for its sticky toffees, which were based on a sweet medicinal cough drop and rumored to be a favorite of Queen Victoria, the toffees became popular among fans attending Everton matches.

When Everton relocated to Goodison Park in 1892, they initially received their supply of toffees from a rival confectioner. However, Molly Bushell secured the exclusive rights shortly after, and her granddaughter Jemma was tasked with selling the toffees from a wooden basket inside the stadium. This connection between Everton and the toffees remains strong, with the club still featuring a traditional Toffee Lady mascot on special occasions.

Everton
Formation1878
Nickname Origin1880s
LocationLiverpool
StadiumGoodison Park

Fulham – The Cottagers


The nickname ‘Cottagers’ is a tribute to Fulham’s historic home ground, Craven Cottage. Built in the 18th century by Lord Craven, the cottage was located on the same land where Anne Boleyn once hunted. In 1896, a football stadium was constructed on the site for Fulham, with the iconic pavilion added in 1905.

Despite undergoing significant renovations, including the addition of an infinity pool and a four-star hotel set to be completed by 2025, Craven Cottage has retained its charm. The ground, which once housed a statue of Michael Jackson, remains a symbol of tradition for the club. Although a secret underground passage that once led from the pavilion to the other side of the River Thames is no longer present, players’ families still enjoy watching matches from the balcony.

Fulham
Formation1879
Nickname Origin1900s
LocationLondon
StadiumCraven Cottage

Liverpool – The Reds


Liverpool initially sported a blue and white kit during their early years at Anfield. However, in 1896, the club made a significant change to red shirts. It was not until 1964, under the guidance of legendary manager Bill Shankly, that the color-themed nickname truly solidified. Shankly’s proposal to add red shorts to the kit was based on the idea of psychological impact, associating red with danger and power.

Club captain Ronnie Yeats played a pivotal role in Shankly’s vision, serving as the model for the all-red kit. After returning to Melwood from a training session, Yeats tried on the new attire. According to striker Ian St John, Shankly was impressed, remarking, “Christ, Ronnie, you look awesome, terrifying. You look 7ft tall.”

Liverpool
Formation1892
Nickname Origin1960s
LocationLiverpool
StadiumAnfield

Luton Town – The Hatters


Luton Town’s association with the hat industry dates back to their formation in 1885. The town of Luton, located in Bedfordshire, was once a hub for hat manufacturing, boasting around 500 hat makers in the 19th century. At its peak, Luton was responsible for producing as many as 70 million hats. Given this rich history, it was only natural for the football team to adopt the nickname “the Hatters.”

Among the various types of hats produced, straw hats were a specialty of the area. When Luton reached the sixth round of the FA Cup for the first time in 1933, thousands of fans showed their support by wearing the signature boater hats as they traveled to Everton’s Goodison Park. However, despite their spirited display, Luton suffered a crushing defeat, losing 6-0.

Luton Town
Formation1885
Nickname Origin1880s
LocationLuton
StadiumKenilworth Road

Manchester City – The Cityzens

During their initial 14 years of existence, the football club now recognized as Manchester City underwent several name changes, including West Gorton, Gorton, and Ardwick, before adopting its current name in 1894. Each of these former names was associated with its own short-lived nickname, such as the Brewery Men, though this moniker has faded into obscurity. However, the term “Cityzen,” spelled uniquely, has endured for over a century.

Illustrations from the 19th century depict a well-dressed gentleman sporting a top hat and cane, accompanied by the slogan “Manchester ‘City’-zen.” This imagery contributed to the establishment of the nickname. The launch of Manchester City’s membership program under the same name in 2014 further popularized the term in the modern era.

Manchester City
Formation1880
Nickname Origin1890s
LocationManchester
StadiumEtihad Stadium

Manchester United – The Red Devils


Sir Matt Busby’s profound impact on Manchester United is evident in every club shirt. The legendary Scottish manager, however, never fully embraced the moniker “Busby Babes” that his youthful team earned. Following the tragic plane crash in 1958 that claimed the lives of eight team members, the nickname had to be set aside as a mark of respect.

In search of new inspiration as he built another exceptional squad, Busby turned to the nickname of the local rugby league team, Salford Reds, in the early 1960s. During a tour of France three decades earlier, Salford had been dubbed “Les Diables Rouge” – the Red Devils – by the press. This nickname was adopted by United, and a devil emblem was first incorporated into the club’s badge in 1973, where it remains today.

Manchester United
Formation1878
Nickname Origin1960s
LocationManchester
StadiumOld Trafford

Newcastle United – The Magpies


Newcastle United’s crest features two seahorses and a small lion, but notably lacks a magpie, despite the club’s nickname. The origins of the nickname are evident in the rest of the kit. When the club was founded in 1892, they initially wore red shirts, but soon adopted the iconic black and white stripes, distinguishing themselves from other clubs dressed in red.

According to legend, the presence of magpies nesting on the roof of St James’ Park prompted the switch to the black and white stripes and the adoption of the nickname. However, it is more likely that the choice was influenced by Northumberland’s traditional black and white tartan. Despite this, a magpie did feature on the club crest until 1988.

Newcastle United
Formation1892
Nickname Origin1890s
LocationNewcastle
StadiumSt James’ Park

Nottingham Forest – Forest


Before Liverpool’s FA Cup quarter-final against Nottingham Forest in 2022, their German coach Jurgen Klopp confessed: “I know Nottingham only from when I was a kid watching Robin Hood!” While this offhand remark upset some fans, it’s challenging to escape the legacy of the outlaw in that region.

Nottingham Forest, a Midlands club, was established in 1865 when a group of locals opted to transition from shinny, a variant of hockey, to football. They derived their name from their new base, Forest Recreation Ground, situated within Sherwood Forest, the backdrop for the legendary tales of Robin Hood.

Nottingham Forest
Formation1865
Nickname Origin1860s
LocationNottingham
StadiumCity Ground

Sheffield United – The Blades


Sheffield, renowned as one of the world’s foremost steel providers, witnessed the inception of Sheffield United in 1889 under the leadership of Sir Charles Clegg, who also chaired rival club Sheffield Wednesday. The team emerged from a cricket club bearing the same name. During the 19th century peak, a significant portion of the railway tracks in the USA originated directly from Sheffield.

The thriving cutlery industry was instrumental in bestowing upon United the moniker ‘the Blades’, a designation that Wednesday also shared during their early years. Jimmy Hagan, a former defender for Sheffield United, is credited with introducing the blades onto the club’s emblem during a tour in 1953.

Sheffield United
Formation1889
Nickname Origin1880s
LocationSheffield
StadiumBramall Lane

Tottenham Hotspur – The Lilywhites


Sheffield, known as a global hub for steel production, witnessed the establishment of Sheffield United in 1889 under the leadership of Sir Charles Clegg, who also served as chairman of rival club Sheffield Wednesday. The team evolved from a cricket club with the same name. At the height of the 19th-century industrial boom, a significant portion of the railway tracks in the USA originated directly from Sheffield.

The prosperous cutlery industry played a pivotal role in giving Sheffield United the nickname ‘the Blades’, a title that was also shared by Wednesday during their early years. Jimmy Hagan, a former defender for Sheffield United, is credited with introducing the blades onto the club’s emblem during a tour in 1953.

Tottenham Hotspur
Formation1882
Nickname Origin1900s
LocationLondon
StadiumTottenham Hotspur Stadium

West Ham United – The Hammers

The Thames Ironworks was the last shipbuilder standing on the banks of the river snaking through London. Before its closure, company chairman Arnold Hills formed a factory football team in 1895.

Thames Ironworks FC became West Ham United in 1900 but didn’t forget its manufacturing roots. Rather than a nod to their new name, ‘the Hammers’ is derived from the tools used by the workers who first founded the team. The air would have been heavy with the noise of riveting hammers crashing off iron to fasten parts of the ships together. This background is where the club’s ‘Irons’ nickname also comes from.

West Ham
Formation1895
Nickname Origin1890s
LocationLondon
StadiumLondon Stadium

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Wolverhampton Wanderers – Wolves


With the gracious permission of the local vicar, school students in Wolverhampton were permitted to advertise for recruits to establish a new football club in 1877. Initially named St. Luke’s after the patron saint of butchers and brewers, who lent his name to the local church, the club soon drew inspiration from the surrounding area and rebranded as Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1879.

The transition to the nickname Wolves was a natural one. However, the club did not adopt the image of the predator in their badge until 1970, preferring to use Wolverhampton’s coat of arms initially. A full-body depiction of a wolf adorned the iconic gold shirt before the introduction of the distinctive wolf’s head emblem in 1979.

Wolverhampton Wanderers
Formation1877
Nickname Origin1870s
LocationWolverhampton
StadiumMolineux
Origins of Every Premier League Club’s Nickname

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