Jack the Lad: What's in a nickname?

16th January 2019

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad ponders the wonderful - and occasionally weird - world of club nicknames, and whether the Swans could ever have been known by any other moniker.

Football club nicknames are weird and wonderful things.

They can derive from a wide range of inspirations, ranging from kit colour to a shortened version of their name . . . as in the Swans.

Many clubs gain their nickname from the main industry or product for which their home town or city is famed.

This afternoon’s visitors the Blades are an ideal example, earning their nickname from the city’s world-wide reputation for producing the top quality steel used in manufacturing knives and cutlery.

Similarly, and closer to home, Newport County were known as the Ironsides due to the area’s links with heavy industry.

The club only gained its current Exiles nickname in the 1990s after the club folded and the team which rose from the ashes weren’t allowed by the Welsh FA to play in Wales. As a result they ended up playing their “home” matches in Gloucestershire for several seasons.

There are many other examples of clubs being nicknamed after the area’s most famous products.

You could literally kit yourselves out from head to toe thanks to clubs linked to the clothing industry.

Northampton are nicknamed the Cobblers due to the town’s history of shoemaking. Similarly, Yeovil are known as the Glovers , Macclesfield as the Silkmen and Luton Town are the Hatters.

You’re pretty much sorted for food and drink too. Apparently Reading used to be known as the Biscuitmen due to the local Huntley and Palmer Factory.

Currently, Fleetwood from the north-west coast of England are the Cod Army, similarly Southend are the Shrimpers, Rotherham are the Millers because their former ground was built on the site of a flour mill, and Burton Albion are the Brewers due to the town’s long association with the brewing industry.

I hope Burton had a pretty strong brew to hand after the Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester City. I’m sure they could have done with a stiff drink after the 9-0 defeat.

If you’re looking to furnish your house, you need look no further than Wycombe, Kidderminster and Stoke to make sure you’re living in the lap of luxury.

Wycombe are the Chairboys, Kidderminster the Carpetmen and Stoke are the Potters. And before Crystal Palace adopted their Eagles tag they were known as the Glaziers, due to the amount of glass in London’s Crystal Palace from which they took their name.

And, if you fancy a change of scenery, your travel arrangements are pretty much covered too by the Railwaymen of Crewe Alexandra and the Mariners of Grimsby. But, if you’re going to travel with the Mariners, it might be an idea to avoid the Pirates of Bristol Rovers!

Should horse riding be your preferred mode of travel then you’ll want to get in touch with the Saddlers of Walsall.

If the Swans had followed this trend, I wonder what industry they would have chosen? I suppose The Coppermen, might have been an option considering the region once produced 90 per cent of Britain's copper output.

Or perhaps the Cape Horners, in honour of the brave Swansea sailors who navigated the deadly Cape Horn in order to trade in copper with Chile.

Some suggest that the club's "Jacks" tag comes from the phrase "Jack Tars" referring to sailors from the area, rather than Swansea Jack, the retriever who saved a number of people from drowning in local waters.

Hopefully the Swans will be able to blunt the Blades this afternoon with a copper-bottomed performance to bring home the three points.

C'mon you Swans!