Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Meanwhile, In A Parallel Universe...

There's a football match on tomorrow night. Had you heard? I'll be on here with minute-by-minute updates on the European Cup Final between Milan and Liverpool. I bet you just can't wait for that, can you? I've come to the conclusion that I want Milan to win this, but I can probably cope with it if Liverpool do. So, I'm neutral. Well, sort of. Also, later on this week, the English football season finally reaches its conclusion with the play-off finals over three days at Wembley. Of course, these matches will all be better than last weekend's FA Cup Final. Also, the Spanish league reaches its climax, with an inexplicably David Beckham-led Real Madrid starting as the favourites to win La Liga for the first time since 2003. Strange times, indeed.

Somehow, the other weekend, I found myself looking at the Red Issue Manchester United website. I forget how this came about. Flicking through the history of Manchester United, the thought occurred to me that had it not been for the intervention of John H Davies, a local brewer, there's a decent chance that United would still be called Newton Heath to this day.Changing the name of a football club has become one of the great taboos of the modern game. Gravesend & Northfleet's decision to change their name to Ebbsfleet United from the start of next season has brought forth the ire of their supporters.
The name of a club is no longer something expendable, a marketing slogan that can be tossed aside if it doesn't suit. It's the biggest single part of that club's identity.

This is to say that it never happens, or that it will never happen again, though. Think, for example, of the almost bizarre adoption of Franchise by the people of Milton Keynes. Are they so desperate for a football club with the MK "brand" that they'll jump into bed with the first sports entrepreneur that comes along? Who are these people, all of whom presumably supported clubs before, and jettisoned them to jump on the Franchise bandwagon? I'm genuinely curious. To take a slightly different theme, I'd bet good money that either Chelsea or Arsenal will be known as "London Chelsea" or "Arsenal London" within the next twenty years. If you're trying to swallow the world of football (as these two clubs surely are), what better way to take the great leap forward than to name yourself after the the only major city in Europe to have
no football teams named for it?

On the flip side to this, it used to happen all the time. Manchester United became Manchester United for precisely these reasons, after all. Virtually all football clubs started with a name that is at least slightly different to the one that they use today, and I thought that it might be moderately diverting to look at the four divisions as they might have looked if none of the clubs had ever changed their names from the ones that they were first born with. Now, before any of you start, this is merely meant as a bit of entertainment than a serious examination. I've tried to change as many names as possible, so some clubs (Leeds, Wigan and Blackburn, for example) are teams that superceded other teams from the same town. Some are the result of mergers, and I've tried to work out who were senior partners in the merger. In the cases where it has been lost to history, I've taken a wild guess. So, no complaining. Just try to imagine how brilliant it would have been if Middlesbrough Ironopolis had been in last year's UEFA Cup Final.

1 Newton Heath
2 Chelsea
3 Everton
4 Dial Square
5 Hotspur FC
6 St Domingo's
7 Christ Church
8 Reading
9 Royal Artillery
10 Blackburn Olympic
11 Aston Villa
12 Middlesbrough Ironopolis
13 Newcastle East End
14 Ardwick
15 Thames Ironworks
16 Fulham St Andrews
17 Wigan Borough
18 Sheffield Cricket Club
19 Charlton Athletic
20 Watford St Marys

1 Sunderland District Teachers
2 Small Heath Alliance
3 Derbyshire County Cricket Club
4 West Bromwich Strollers
5 St Luke's Blakenhall
6 St Marys YMCA
7 Preston Nelson
8 Stoke Victoria Club
9 The Wednesday
10 Colchester Town
11 Argyle Athletic Club
12 Crystal Palace
13 Riverside Cricket Club
14 Ipswich AFC
15 Burnley Rovers
16 Norwich City
17 Singers FC
18 St Judes & Christchurch Rangers
19 Leicester Fosse
20 Barnsley St Peters
21 Hull City
22 Southend United
23 Luton Town
24 Leeds City

1 Scunthorpe & Lindsay United
2 Bristol South End
3 Blackpool
4 Nottingham Forest
5 Yeovil & Petters United
6 Pine Villa
7 Swansea Town
8 Carlisle United
9 Belmont
10 Millwall Athletic
11 Doncaster Rovers
12 Burslem Port Vale
13 Crewe Alexandra
14 Northampton CCC
15 Huddersfield Town
16 New Brompton
17 Cheltenham Town
18 Brighton & Hove Rangers
19 Boscombe St Johns
20 Clapton Orient
21 Chesterfield Town
22 Bradford City
23 Thornhill United
24 Brentford

1 Walsall Swifts
2 Hartlepools United
3 Swindon Town
4 Wimbledon Old Centrals
5 Lincoln FC
6 Black Arabs
7 Shrewsbury Town
8 Heaton Norris Rovers
9 Rochdale Town
10 Peterborough & Fletton United
11 Darlington Forge Albion
12 Wycombe Wanderers
13 The Nottinghamshire County FC
14 Barnet & Alston
15 Grimsby Pelham
16 Hereford City
17 Mansfield Wesleyans
18 Chester FC
19 Wrexham
20 Stanley Villa
21 Bury
22 Hallifield
23 Boston FC
24 Torquay Town

And there we have it. If there is anything wrong with any of the above, feel free to let me know and I'd be delighted to change it. Feel free to drop by tomorrow night for European Cup Final gubbins.


Anonymous said...

On an unrelated note can I just give a massive 'ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha' to the news that Sheffield United have just appointed Bryan Robson as their manager?

200percent said...

I will add my congratulations to Sheffield United for doing their best to keep us entertained with two successive relegations.

Chris O said...

'If there's anything wrong, let you know'?!?! It's a brilliant article, man! Well done!! :-)

sp3ktor said...

I seem to remember Arsenal being refered to as London Arsenal when I was watching german coverage of a game (before the days of standard uefa packaging). So it may already be a style adopted in Europe - much like the the way we'd say Inter Milan or PSV Eindhoven.

Black Arabs cracks me up.

Ed said...

I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about Wimbledon Centrals being put down as the earliest recorded incarnation of MK Dons. They are in fact the earliest incarnation of AFC Wimbledon. The first football team from Milton Keynes were hopefully the Milton Keynes Beaks.

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