Some football club names are pretty obvious, but why Leyton 'Orient'

00:00 Mon 30th Jul 2001 |

A. The well-known 3rd-division London club was founded in 1881 by members of a cricket club in Hackney so that they could continue playing together in the winter months. In 1888 they adopted the name 'Orient' on the suggestion of a player who worked for the Orient Shipping Line, and the name seemed appropriate for a club that played in east London.

In 1898 they became Clapton Orient, adding the name of this then select London suburb where the club's ground was situated with the aim of gaining added respectability. In 1937 the club, moved to a new ground further east in Leyton, and duly became Leyton Orient in 1946.

In the 1960s and 1970s Leyton was dropped and the team once again became known simply as Orient. However, the Leyton was reinstated by the 1980s.

Q. Why do football teams often use the word 'Wanderers' in their names
A. As we all know wanderers are people who roam around from place to place. The first winners of the FA Cup, in 1872, were called simply the Wanderers, a name the club adopted in 1864 after moving from east London to Battersea Park in south London. But the name also conveys the rather romantic sense of a group of travelling gentlemen who play for pleasure rather than to win - a very English sentiment, particularly in the late 19th century when most clubs were formed. So we have Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wycombe Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers.

Q. ...and 'Rangers'
Rangers, in common with wanderers, are people who move around a lot, particularly in search of plunder, which in football means trophies and glory. The term 'ranger' is also used officially in military circles, giving the sense of order and precision. Thus Glasgow Rangers, Queen's Park Rangers and Berwick Rangers.

Q. ...and 'Rovers'
A. Again, as with wanderers and rangers, Rovers has connotations of perpetual travelling and restlessness, though its meaning has exciting links to pirates. This romantic inference means that teams of 'rovers' will travel great distances in search of glory. In the English League we have both Blackburn Rovers and Bristol Rovers.

Q. ...and 'United'
A. Probably the most common second element in teams' names other than Town or City, United means that all the members have decided to 'unite' under the same banner and are committed to the same cause. For example, there were a number of clubs playing in Newcastle in the 1880s, including Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End. When East End took over the St James' Park ground of West End in 1892 it was decided to adopt a new name that would bring together all the supporters in the city. Hence Newcastle United. In other cases, clubs adopted the name because they liked its sense of purpose.

Most famously, Newton Heath FC changed their name to Manchester United in 1902.

Q. ...and 'Albion'
Albion is a Classical name for Britain, much used in poetry in the Romantic period, and continuing to be popular throughout the 19th century, a time of strong nationalist sentiment. We have West Bromwich Albion in the English league, but its strangest use must be in the name of the team from the small town of Coatbridge in Scotland, which calls itself Albion Rovers. This is a bit like being called City United or County Athletic.

Q. ...and finally 'Athletic'
A. Athletic has nothing to do with athletics per se, but is meant to convey a sense of fitness and strength. So, Oldham Athletic, Forfar Athletic and Charlton Athletic.

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By Simon Smith

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