A little bit of something different for the holidays....
Much controversy has emerged since speculation begun recently about the potential renaming of the club we all currently know as Montreal Impact...
... but what are some of the more peculiar origins of names of the famous and not so famous in the world football family.
We take a look at twelve established club names from around the globe...
TOP Oss (Holland)
TOP Oss currently sits in mid-table in the Dutch Eerste Divisie (2nd tier), but they may well claim the prize for the weirdest club name in football. TOP stands for Tot Ons Plezier, (English; ‘To Our Pleasure’). In fact it seems the club never stood a chance of normality. Upon formation in 1928 the brothers Piet and Cor van Schijndel decided to call the team from the town of Oss, KMD (Klein Marr Dapper - English, ‘Small But Brave’), but adjusted in 1930 after discovering more clubs had that same name (hard to believe, I know, but true, seemingly).
Can you imagine the popular terrace chant during games at their Frans Heesen Stadion in North Brabant? No? I can’t either...
Boston River (Uruguay)
Or to give the club its full formal name, Club Atlético Boston River. The club hails from Montevideo and plays in the Uruguayan Primera Division, the same league as former Impact squad member Santiago Gonzalez currently pays his trade in.
Boston River has absolutely no connection with the north American city of the same name. Instead they took their name from the tailor shop, ‘Sasteria Boston’ of its founder and added the ‘River’ adopted from renowned Argentine club River Plate. Strange to say the least.
Harland & Wolff Welders (Northern Ireland)
The club, founded in 1965, hails from Belfast and plays in the Northern Ireland Championship (2nd tier).
The club was actually formed by welders in the Harland & Wolff shipyard where in the early 20th century the Titanic was built. My own father was one (a welder in H&W, not a footballer) and I played against them once quite a few years ago when they were still in amateur football.
Despite the Welders’ ascent in Northern Irish football, I don’t think the Impact is about to become Bombardier Riveters anytime soon.
Orlando Pirates Football Club (South Africa)
Often known as just, ‘Pirates’ they are based in the Houghton suburb of Johannesburg and are one of South Africa’s most successful clubs. The team plays it’s home matches at Orlando Stadium in Soweto. The club was founded in 1937 and their name (Pirates) was taken from the 1940 film, ‘The Sea Hawk’ starring Errol Flynn.
Club founders included offspring of migrant workers who moved from rural areas to work in the gold mines of Gauteng. Originally called Orlando Boys Club, upon promotion to Division One in 1944, Andrew Bassie, a key member of the club suggested the name change to Pirates and it carried.
Heart of Midlothian (Scotland)
Often of course referred to as just plain ‘Hearts’, they currently play in the Scottish Championship (2nd tier) and are the oldest club in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.
Formed in 1874, the club took its name from Walter Scott's novel ‘The Heart of Midlothian’ and indeed the club crest is based on the Heart of Midlothian mosaic on the city’s Royal Mile.
The novel is the seventh of Scott's Waverley novels and is set between the years 1736 and 1737, mainly in Edinburgh.
Hellas Verona (Italy)
Often merely referred to as Verona, the 1984/85 champion club of Italy was founded by a group of high school students from Greece in 1903 and named Hellas at the request of their professor of classics.
The famous Sao Paulo club was founded by Italian immigrants in 1914 as Palestra Italia. But in 1942, during World War II, which Brazil joined, the government made a decree banning any organization from using names related to the axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan). Not only did the government insist in the dropping of the name ‘Italia’, but also ‘Palestra’, a Greek word generally considered in non-violation of the decree.
Members then decided to become Palmeiras (Palm Trees) and a new name was born.
Newcastle United Jets (Australia)
Newcastle United was formed in 2000 by Cypriot-Australian businessman Con Constantine from the remnants of the Newcastle Breakers club. The club was reasonably successful finishing second in the League behind Perth Glory n the 2001–02 season.
The club renamed itself to the Newcastle United Jets Football Club and launched a new badge at the start of the new national league, the A-League. This was done to try and create and project a new image of the club and to avoid confusion with the English Premier League club of the same name. The name “Jets” is a reference to Royal Australian Air Force base at Williamtown, located just 20 kilometres north of Newcastle.
Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan)
Colloquially known as Urawa Reds, the club’s official title however reflects the former city of Urawa, now part of Saitama City, and the Red Diamonds represent the club’s pre-professional era parent company, Mitsubishi, whose logo comprises three red diamonds, which still appear in the J-League club’s badge today.
Gornik Zabrze (Poland)
The only Polish club ever to reach a European final carries the Polish name for miners, Gornik, and enjoyed periods of domestic dominance in the 60’s and 80’s.
Founded in 1948, Górnik was patterned after several smaller sports associations that had existed in Zabrze between 1945 and 1948 – KS Zjednoczenie, KS Pogoń, KS Skra, and KS Concordia. The clubs merged into a single organization, which took the Gornik name, reflecting Zabrze as an important coal-mining centre.
Club Atletico Aldosivi (Argentina)
Current members of the Argentine Primera Division, Aldosivi was founded in 1913 by a group of the employees of the the company contracted to build the port of Mar del Plata. The club’s name comes from the first two letters of the last name of engineers and owners of the company: Allard, Doulfus, Sillard, and Wiriott (the “w” was changed to a “v” because there was no “W” available to telegraph the official announcement).
The club’s first colours were blue, white and red, taken from the French flag and worn by the team during its first years of existence. Some time later, a local store donated green and yellow jerseys to the club, the now established club colours worn today.
Real Betis (Spain)
Around since 1907 Real Betis has been Spanish champions once and Copa del Rey winners twice, the last time in 2007. They are the local rivals of Sevilla, the more celebrated club from the city of Seville in recent years.
The club’s name ‘Betis’ is derived from Baetis, the Roman name for the Guadalquivir river which passes through Seville and which the Roman province there was named after. ‘Real’ was added in 1914 after the club received patronage from King Alfonso XIII.
It would be like the Impact being renamed Royal St-Lawrence. Sounds more like a yacht-club and not likely to catch on anytime soon!
And so to the future...
While I’m sure some of these little potted histories carry some level of interest it’s unlikely to provoke Impact fans or the club’s rulers, to consider anything along the lines highlighted.
Most of the clubs had their names attached at formation or at least during different times when trends and thinking were a million miles away from where we stand today, and in an era where ‘marketing’ was a yet-to-be invented word.
In today’s modern world it seems the Impact’s re-christening, if indeed it is to come, will be no more exotic than the city name with an FC prefixing or suffixing.
We await with bated breath...