Originally written for The Red Final 129 April 2017
I recently treated myself to a tour of Switzerland. Not for skiing as everyone I told seemed to automatically assume, but to cram in as much football and as many different beers as possible (there are over seven hundred and fifty breweries in that wee country). Anyway Jasper Carrot once told me skiing is bollocks so I’ll take his word for it. Four games in five days I was to see. During this time four cities were to be visited with seven teams on show.
Included in the list of teams were two of Europe’s more peculiarly named clubs, BSC Young Boys and Grasshopper Club Zurich.Prior to witnessing “YB” come from two down to defeat local neighbours FC Thun 3-2 at the Wankdorf Stadion (Young Boys, Wankdorf, insert sick joke here), I found myself chatting to some of the local fans over a few cold ones. The subject of their name was inevitably mentioned which lead to a conversation about teams around the globe with let’s say, unusual names. I also think these sound Swiss geezers were trying to deflect the conversation away from their own odd name especially as there was a definite uneasiness to them speaking to an English speaking foreigner about it.
Where did the “Young Boys” part of Berner Sport Club Young Boys come from then? In 1898 Bern University held a challenge match between Berner FC and Old Boys Basel. Four students of the uni watched this game and decided to form their own team. Ever in competition with Basel the four Bernese academics decided to create a team to challenge the Basel outfit and become the bigger and more popular team, they even had the cheek to use the same colours and even made their team name was to be a play on the “Old Boys”. As for the Old Boys, they are the Basel equivalent of Grammar FPs in Aberdeen, as they started off as former pupils club. As I mentioned, I also saw Grasshoppers, and I am an admirer of the poetic element to the reasoning behind their beastie-like name. It’s unclear the official reason but the general consensus in the history books is that due to their energetic style of play in the early days they were compared to Grasshoppers. The name stuck as the newly founded FC Zurich had appeared and it meant there was no chance of mixing the two teams up.
During my chat I was asked about Scottish teams and I couldn’t think of many, the football league is mostly geographical barring Albion Rovers (merger of Albion FC and Rovers FC) and the two who will not be named, where there’s a common misconception that their names have Glasgow in them, on saying that though there are also new misconceptions regarding the blue half but I digress. Lower down we do have Edinburgh’s Civil Service Strollers, my most local senior team Inverurie Loco Works. There is also my favourite on our shores Clachnacuddin. A great word to say I think you will agree. This translates to “Stone of the Tub” for all you non Gaelic speakers, originating from an Invernesian landmark. But that’s about it for Scotland. But before I move on a special mention has to go to two teams in the lower echelons of local Aberdeen fitba, AC Mill Inn and Byron Munich.
While looking into this it was quickly apparent that daft names can come from anywhere and can have equally as daft reasoning behind them, but a lot are named for similar reasoning. But the following three unique examples show there are random unique reasons out there. The South African Premier League big boys Orlando Pirates were named after film buffs. Given that Johannesburg is land locked there can’t be many pirates kicking about it’s a strange one, but the reasoning is even stranger. Originally from the Orlando area of Sowetto the Pirates were named after the Errol Flynn film “The Sea Hawk” as the founders were big admirers of the movie, so nothing to do with the Orlando Bloom in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise then. There is also Joe Public in the Trinidad and Tobago league. Set up for any member of the public to play for to prove there were better home grown players out there than the players selected for national team who had failed in their bid to qualify for the 1998 World Cup. This one makes me laugh and to be honest I like the name but the reasoning is a cracker. Go Ahead Eagles, once managed by the Tango Man were originally named “Be Quick” which is an even shitter name than Go Ahead, they were forced to change their name as unbelievably some other Dutch mob had already taken Be Quick. So they translated the Dutch word “voorwaarts” which translated means forward in English, but they didn’t get it quite right and instead of the war cry of “forward” which was the idea, they came up with Go Ahead instead. The Eagles was added in the seventies as their stadium is called de Adelaarshorst which translates as the eagles nest, this in my eyes taking a poorly named Go Ahead and instantly turning it cool but unusual all the same.
There are more common reasons out there , geography can throw up some good names, Deportivo Moron of Argentina, Dinamo Bender of Moldova who latched on to the unfortunate name and rebranded themselves FC Tighana. Germany have fourth tier outfit Wormatia Worms, Middelfart G&BK ply their trade in Denmark, Turkey have Batman B.S and buried away deep in the English leagues are Penistone Church. It’s a shame that Bastardtown in Ireland doesn’t have a football team. But im sure only referees would hail from there.
Another well used practice as we know is naming clubs after professions and companies. India take it a bit literally and boring with Income Tax FC and Customs FC, but there are more interesting names out there. Thailand give us Thailand Tobacco Monopoly FC, Hong Kong spawned NT Realty Wofoo Tai Po. In New Zealand there was once a team called the Wankie Colliery who rebranded themselves Hwange Colliery. One time Indonesian champions Semen Pedang shot out Sumatra in 1980.Africa, the land of a million silly names have Botswana Meat Commission FC who I don’t think I have to explain where they are from but there is also Eritrea Shoe Factory FC who I will explain do not actually come from Eritrea but in fact Ethiopia. If I was to pick a favourite id have to go with Bahamas side Insurance Management Bears FC who are usually shortened to Bears FC. The name was derived from the company who handed a grant to Queens College in Nassau to coach football. Surely Nassau would be a more appropriate place for a club with a pirate related handle one would have thought.Naming clubs after indigenous people is common as Colo Colo of Santiago show, but the Chileans have nothing on their neighbours Peru who have the gloriously titled Deportivo Wanka named after the Wanka tribes people of the area. The team are only semi in existence at the moment as they are currently banned from entering competitions after they flopped to relegation in 2004 which they heavily protested, concluding in their ban.
Staying on the subject of people and in South America there are various teams named with people’s names, O’Higgins (founding father) of Chile, Club Jorge Wilsterman (Aviator) Bolivia, Vasco De Gama (Explorer) of Brazil and even Zico has a club named after him with Centro de Futebol Zico Sociedade Esportiva. This practice spreads worldwide too with Kirkintilloch Rob Roy (who I had forgotten about earlier),Malcolm X Generals(Activist) in Trinidad and Tobago, Willem II (king) in Holland and any team with Spartak or such like in their title after Spartacus (leader of the slaves). Mythical people are also used with Ajax, Atlas, Apollo and Aris being common round the world. But there is one that stands out in world football, hailing from Rovaniemi, Lapland in Finland, forming in 1993, FC Santa Claus were born, fantastic.I came across a few names that chose tough sounding names that I am a fan of, in the Middle East Al Nasr (arabic for victory) appear in Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia. But more intimidating, Bolivia have three hardy sounding chiels in The Strongest, Club Destroyers and Always Ready. Elsewhere there used to be a very pissed off sounding Kalamazoo Outrage who’s badge was a clearly pissed off mutant alligator. Intimidating stuff.
As already stated Africa is a goldmine for daft names and deserves its own paragraph. Being truthful I could write a book on the subject there are so many. Many of these can’t be categorised as they sound as if they were chosen for a 5-a-side league at Strikers on a Thursday. I’m surprised there isn’t an “Inter Yerma” in Djibouti. Anyway Nigeria brings us The Wikki tourists, Liberia have The Invincible Eleven, Homeboyz hail from Kenya, Ghana have a thing about stars with the Shooting Stars, Lobi Stars and Sunshine Stars all playing in the top flight. But none of these come close to their fantastically named rivals Mysterious Dwarfs of the cape coast (also known as the Cape Coast Ebusa Dwarfs) or The Mobile Phone People, King Faisal Babes, Stay Cool Dansoman Professionals (Seriously what the fuck), Friends Babies and Eleven Wise also coming from the West African nation. Zimbabwe hatched Chicken Inn FC and Corrugated FC. Tanzania have Simba FC (Used to be Dar Sunderland FC, I would have changed the name too), Zambia have the brilliant Power Dynamo. When it comes to giving you a laugh Botswana is great too, Prisons XI, Killer Giant FC, Green Lovers FC, Naughty Boys Miscellaneous FC(who’s local derby is with Motherwell FC, fact) and the aforementioned Botswana Meat Commission who deserve a second mention. There are so many I would advise you to google the subject with a few beers and a few spare hours, comedy gold. But there is one team that stands out as being shocking that I can’t go without mentioning. The name would not have been sanctioned in more countries than it would. South Africa once had a team albeit for two seasons called Dangerous Darkies FC. They were merged in 1992 and rebranded to the not much better Mpumalanga Black Aces. (They don’t play in black by the way).Only in Africa
In conclusion the fans of Young Boys need not worry regarding their name as the above proves there is far worse than theirs and if you know the reasoning for their moniker you realise it was effectively a piss take through intercity rivalry. If I have a word of advice for them, it’s probably a good idea never to be caught saying “come on Young Boys” and stick to “hopp YB”