Manchester United’s chief executive Ed Woodward earned some brownie points with the Old Trafford fans this week when he announced the words ‘Football Club’ would be returning to their famous crest.
But how has your team’s badge evolved throughout the years? Sportsmail reveals the story behind each Premier League club’s crest.
Arsenal’s nickname – the Gunners – and its badge continue to reflect the club’s origins in the Borough of Woolwich. Founded there in 1886 by workers at the Royal Arsenal in south London, the club moved north to Highbury only in 1913 and so the badge borrowed the familiar cannon symbol from the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich coat of arms.
This reflects the long military tradition in Woolwich, which is also home to the Royal Artillery Regiment. Initially, three cannon appeared on the crest, but this became one in the 1920s. At this time, the logo didn’t appear on the Arsenal shirts but was reserved for club stationary and the matchday programme.
In 1949, the crest as we would recognise it today was unveiled, featuring the Latin motto ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ or ‘Victory grows out of harmony,’ the club name in bold lettering and the Borough of Islington’s coat of arms. Later versions introduced the familiar red background and at the start of this century, the cannon was made gold.
The club made the decision to modernise the crest in 2002, mindful they would be moving to a new home at the Emirates Stadium within a few years. During the 2011-2012 season, the 125th anniversary of the club, gold laurel and oak leaves were introduced, along with the word ‘Forward.’
The Rampant Lion of Scotland has always been a big part of Villa’s crest, reflecting the influence of William McGregor and George Ramsay in the foundation of the club. McGregor, who hailed from Perthshire, served the club for 20 years as president, director and chairman, and played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Football League.
Ramsay, from Glasgow, was secretary and manager of the club between 1884 and 1926, overseeing the most successful period of its history, winning six league titles and six FA Cups. The ‘Prepared’ motto, which has been part of the crest most of the time, could originate from Rangers, who have the word ‘Ready’ on their logo. In 2007, the club redesigned the crest, adding a white star to signify the 1982 European Cup triumph.
The successful City side of the 1920s, the first to take the FA Cup outside of England, proudly wore the emblem of the Welsh capital on big occasions. The shield features the red dragon, the national symbol of Wales used for centuries as a symbol of authority.
The dragon upholds a standard of three silver chevrons on a red background attributed as the ensign of Iestin ap Gwrgan, the last prince of Glamorgan in the 11th century. The leek, the floral emblem of Wales, is also there, as are the Welsh goat, representing the mountains of Glamorgan, and the sea-horse, representing the prosperity of the River Severn.
A motto at the bottom reads: ‘Y ddraig goch ddyry gychwyn’ or ‘The red dragon will lead the way.’ After the war, the bluebird, which was the club’s nickname, featured prominently. It was adopted sometime around 1910, supposedly when a play of The Blue Bird, written by the Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, was performed at the New Theatre in Cardiff.
As Cardiff wore blue, supporters nicknamed them the Bluebirds after the play received rave reviews. The blue bird, always in full flight, has been on every Cardiff crest since, though its prominence was reduced last season when the club’s Malaysian owners redesigned the logo and brought back the red dragon to better match the chance of kit colour from blue to red.
Chelsea’s first logo was a sketch of a Chelsea Pensioner with a long white beard and a set of medals. The club’s first nickname, ‘The Pensioners’, rose from this. Badges weren’t worn on club shirts in those days, but the crest did appear in the programme.
After the war, manager Ted Drake ditched the ‘Pensioners’ tag and ordered a new design, with a simple cipher of the club’s initials used as a stopgap in 1952. The new crest, which was used for 33 years, was inspired by the Borough of Chelsea coat of arms, the lion taken from the arms of club president Earl Cadogan (aka Viscount Chelsea).
The staff in its paws is that if the Abbot of Westminster, whose jurisdiction extends over Chelsea. The roses around the outside represent England. The design was simplified to the lion and the club’s initials in 1986. The latest badge, introduced for the club’s centenary in 2005, returned to the circular shape.
For the first 40 years of their existence, Palace didn’t have a crest as such but in the late 1940s an edition of the Crystal Palace with a claret and blue shield on the front was adopted. The Crystal Palace was originally an enormous building of cast-iron and plate-glass constructed in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Because of all the natural light it allowed in, it did not require interior lighting and was therefore dubbed the ‘Crystal Palace.’ After the show, it was taken down and rebuilt on Penge Common in south London and eventually lent its name to the area where the football club was formed. A more elaborate and accurate sketch of the building featured from the mid-1950s until 1972, when a very basic circular design with the letters ‘CP’ and the club’s nickname ‘The Glaziers’ replaced it.
This was short lived – when Malcolm Allison came in as manager the following year, he overhauled the club from top to bottom, introducing the now familiar colours of red and blue and the ‘Eagles’ nickname. This was naturally reflected in the crest, with chairman Ron Noades lending it a more aggressive look in the Nineties.
The first known Everton logo was adopted in 1922, as an amalgam of the club’s initials on a blue shield, though this would not have been used on the plain shirts of the time. At the end of the 1937-1938 season, club secretary Theo Kelly was tasked with designing a new club tie and came up with the idea of incorporating local landmark ‘The Beacon’ (aka ‘Prince Rupert’s Tower’) into the crest.
Located on nearby Everton Brow, the tower was opened in 1787 as an overnight holding place for local drunks and criminals. It remains there today, a grade II listed building, and has been the centrepiece of the club crest ever since. Mr Kelly also included the familiar laurel wreaths, a hallmark of winners in classical times, and the Latin motto ‘Nil Satis, Nisi Optimum’ which means ‘Nothing but the best is good enough.’
The logo was a little too complicated to be stitched on to the club jerseys initially, so a bold ‘EFC’ was preferred until the 1980s. The latest edition was criticised by fans because it omitted the Latin inscription.
The first Fulham crest, adopted in the late 19th century, featured the crossed swords of St Paul adopted from the arms of the See of London, whose bishops had held the Manor of Fulham since the end of the seventh century.
In the Thirties, the badge featured a black and white sketch of Craven Cottage. This was dropped after the war, with Fulham adopting the crest of the local borough on a red and later white background. Interestingly, the Danish galley in this badge relates to the band of Viking pirates who assembled at Fulham in 827 after sailing down the Thames.
Its replacement in 1971 couldn’t have been any more different, consisting of just ‘FFC’ in a monogram. In the Eighties, elements of the Borough logo were restored, including the wavy blue lines to indicate the River Thames, which runs at the back of the ground. To coincide with Fulham’s first Premier League campaign, in 2001, a black and white shield was designed with the club’s initials in red lettering.
As a one-team city, Hull initially adopted the three crowns – or, more accurately, three ducal coronets – that made up the Humber seaport’s coat of arms. The precise origins of this is unknown, with speculation that a company of medieval merchants operating out of the area adopted the crowns as their crest, taking after the Three Kings of the East who were also merchants.
Another possibility is the city’s connection with Edward I, who saw the area’s value as a sea port and took over the town known as Wykeham-upon-Hull from the Monks of Meaux. Consequently it adopted its name ‘Kingston‘ or ‘King’s Town‘ and displayed the three crowns of the King on all merchant ships sailing from there.
In 1947, the team started wearing a tiger’s head crest on their amber and black shirts. The familiar modern logo with the club’s name and nickname was introduced in 1979, with one version also incorporating the three crowns and the iconic Humber Bridge at the top.
As with the city, the famous Liver Bird has always been the symbol of Liverpool FC. When the club was founded in 1892, it was the natural choice and has remained on the crest ever since.
Some of the earliest material to feature the Liver Bird were the league championship winners’ medals presented to the squad in 1901, when the larger city coat of arms was reproduced. Documents from the first few decades of the 20th century featured both the coat of arms and an individual liver bird.
After the war, the Liver Bird was at the heart of ever-more elaborate shield-based designs also including the name of the club. In the Sixties, the city council turned down a request by the club to adopt the council crest. It was in the early Nineties that the crest started to take the form familiar today, with the addition of references to the Shankly Gates, the Hillsborough eternal flame and You’ll Never Walk Alone, the club anthem.
City’s original crest was a circular shape, with the club name surrounding a central shield bearing a ship in the upper half representing the Manchester Ship Canal and the red rose of Lancashire. Earlier incarnations had an eagle, an old heraldic symbol of the city, or a golden eagle, to represent the burgeoning aviation industry.
At other times, three diagonal stripes figured to signify the three rivers that flow through the city – the Irwell, the Irk and the Medlock. Modern versions include the Latin motto ‘Superbia in Proelio’ which translates as ‘Pride in Battle.’ The golden eagle has returned but the three gold stars at the top are purely decorative.
As with many teams, until 1970 United only wore a crest on their shirts on big occasions such as Cup finals and it would always be the Manchester City Council coat of arms.
This featured the references to the Ship Canal and local rivers already mentioned. In the 1958 FA Cup final with Bolton, played just three months after the Munich Air Disaster, United wore what appeared to be a phoenix rising from the ashes.
However, this is false – it is a golden eagle and formed a short-lived council crest. By the late Sixties, United had created their own version based on the council crest, with the ship and three stripes retained.
For reasons unknown, the roses were coloured white – the colour of Yorkshire! As the crest evolved, they were replaced by footballs and a red devil was added in the centre in honour of the club’s nickname. The word’s ‘Football Club’ were removed in 1998, creating a more marketable badge, but will again feature on the crest.
Like the Manchester sides, Newcastle proudly wore the city’s crest whenever they graced big occasions. The castle motif dates back to 1080, when Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror, ordered a ‘New Castle’ to be built on the current site of the city.
The two seahorses are a reminder that Newcastle’s prosperity is based on its sea port. The royal lion and pennon of St George at the top of the crest reflect the town’s Royalist tradition during the civil war and its resistance of attack from the Scots in the 14th century.
The black and white within the gold shield are of course the club’s colours. During the 1970s, as was the trend, Newcastle employed a simpler design of the club’s initials in bold worked into the shape of a football with a magpie, from the nickname, at the bottom. Another featured the magpie in front of a sketch of the castle, with the name round the outside.