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The 10 best English football team nicknames

Football team nicknames are an important aspect of the sport, and, when chosen correctly, can help to consolidate the connection between a club and its location or fans. They can be chosen based on almost any parameters, from culture within a region, abbreviations of names or simply just because an owner likes the nickname.

With that in mind, here are Football Ground Guide's top 10 English football team nicknames.

The best football team nicknames in England

English Football team nicknames
Football team nicknames are a major part of the sport and can help clubs stand out from the crowd. Photo by Icon Sport

10. The Gingerbreads (Grantham Town)

Grantham Town football team nickname
Grantham Town are known as the ‘Gingerbreads'. Photo by Lincolnshire Live.

Given that Grantham Town currently play their football in the seventh tier of English football, you can be forgiven if you have never heard of them before this point. However, that doesn't mean that their nickname isn't worthy of a spot on this list.

Grantham Town has provided the country with plenty over the years, most notably the genius mind of Sir Isaac Newton, famous for inventing the theory of gravity, and Margaret Thatcher – the first female Prime Minister of the country.

But, despite all of that, Grantham Town FC instead decided to go with ‘The Gingerbreads', due to the town's rich history of producing, you guessed it, gingerbread.

There is a certain amount of amusement that comes from such a choice, and it perfectly embodies the true priorities of its inhabitants and is rewarded with a spot on this list as a result.

9. The Tractor Boys (Ipswich Town)

Ipswich Town football team nickname
‘The Tractor Boys' pays homage to the farming culture present in the region. Photo by Icon Sport

Ipswich Town's ‘The Tractor Boys' nickname also captures the spirit of the region in a similar fashion, with the choice perhaps more meaningful than you may think.

Not coined until the early 2000s during the club's historic, albeit brief, spell in the Premier League, ‘The Tractor Boys' is first and foremost a homage to the agricultural heritage of the town.

However, it also has a smart, self-depreciating undertone, designed to help the club revel in its notable inferiority to some of the bigger clubs it faced in England's top flight.

Highlighting the culture of the region, while conjuring up a sense of comradery among its supporters, this nickname is well worth its spot in this list.

8. The Railway Men (Crewe Alexandra)

Crewe Alexandra football team nickname
The railway industry played a huge role in the development of Crewe as a town. Photo by Icon Sport

Narrowly beating ‘The Tractor Boys' is Crewe Alexandra's nickname ‘The Railway Men'. The nickname is not only incredibly unique but also highlights the links between the town and the railway industry in the country.

Crewe Works was the key facility in the area and it was regularly used by the likes of London Railway to help design and manufacture a wide array of famous locomotives over the years.

To many, the topic of trains does little to intrigue, but to Crewe and its inhabitants, it is the entire backbone the region is built on.

7. Pompey (Portsmouth FC)

Portsmouth FC football team nickname
The phrase ‘Pompey' is believed to originate from the strong sailor culture in the city. Photo by Icon Sport.

Although at first glance it may not appear so, Portsmouth's ‘Popmey' nickname continues to adhere to the theme of an industry-related nickname.

Many of us are aware of the city's importance as a dock and a naval base, but fewer are aware that the term ‘Pompey' is derived from the sailor-man culture rife in the city.

According to city officials themselves, the nickname has been developed over many years and is a result of sailors playfully shortening the city's full name, Portsmouth.

However, the exact reason behind the nickname is unknown, with numerous different theories as to its exact origins. It is that mysterious aura of the phrase that earns it its place on this list, and despite its uncertain beginnings, feels suitable for the club.

6. The Black Cats (AFC Sunderland)

AFC Sunderland football team nickname
The exact story of the name ‘Black Cats' is uncertain, nut no, it does not relate to witches of any kind. Photo by Icon Sport

Another nickname with a contested and still to this day unknown origin is Sunderland's ‘Black Cats' nickname. Despite what you may be thinking, no, it has nothing to do with sorcery or witches – at least as far as we know.

Instead, its origin is actually believed to be linked to an artillery battery that was once located on the River Wear, which reportedly was frequented by a loud, wailing black cat and became known as the ‘Black Cat Battery'.

Others suggest that the name actually comes from a supporter who once smuggled a black cat into an FA Cup final inside his chest pocket as a good luck charm, and inevitably, the side went on to record their first-ever triumph in the competition.

Whether you choose to believe the former or latter theory, one thing is for sure, the ‘Black Cats' nickname is on the list at number six.

5. The Hammers (West Ham United)

West Ham United football team nickname
The term ‘Hammers' comes from the club's links to Thames Ironworks. Photo by Icon Sport

Whether you would instead replace ‘The Hammers' with ‘The Irons' is up for debate, but we felt as though the former just rolls off the tongue slightly better – yes the margin really was that small.

Both names pay perfect homage to the club's early beginnings, having initially been formed by workers of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company. Some football enthusiasts believe that ‘The Hammers' is linked to the name West Ham itself, but that is not the case.

The club further embraces the nickname by placing two hammers on its logo, reinstating the connection between the two and also providing the side with a rather menacing aesthetic.

All-in-all, the name does enough to earn itself a top-half position in this list, something fans of the club have perhaps become accustomed to in recent years.

4. The Blades (Sheffield United)

Sheffield United football team nickname
‘The Blades' is one of the most menacing nicknames in the entire football pyramid. Photo by Icon Sport

A very similar name and origin to that of ‘The Hammers', ‘The Blades' is derived from Sheffield United's involvement in the metal industry, albeit in regards to steel cutlery and knives, not ironwork.

Their original nickname was ‘The Cutlers', with obvious links to the cutlery industry, but thankfully that was switched out in 1912.

Like West Ham, Sheffield United have also opted to include two blades on their crest, although admittedly they do look more reminiscent of swords, and they too provide an intimidating aesthetic.

There isn't much else to say about the nickname, other than it does everything the ‘The Hammers' nickname does for West Ham, but ever so slightly better.

3. The Red Devils (Manchester United)

Manchester United football team nickname
Manchester United have even adopted the red devil as their club mascot. Photo by Icon Sport

Nicknamed ‘The Red Devils' because they play in red and are liked by almost nobody… only joking, although there may be some truth to that.

In reality, Manchester United actually stumbled upon the name, and it was chosen simply because the legendary Sir Matt Busby liked it.

The reported theory is that an English rugby side, by the name of Salford, had toured France wearing the colour red, and quickly became known as ‘The Red Devils' – a name which Busby found intriguing and insisted United adopted it too.

Soon after, the club began including a depiction of a red devil on scarves and programmes, and as they continued to do so, its popularity began to rise.

Nowadays, the term is formidable and has become synonymous with success, particularly during Sir Alex Ferguson's incredible reign at the club.

2. The Gunners (Arsenal FC)

Arsenal football team nickname
Cannons have been used on Arsenal crests throughout the club's history. Photo by icon Sport

One of, if not the most, menacing nicknames in the entirety of the footballing pyramid, ‘The Gunners' is a term that actually pays homage to the origins of the club, which, as you can probably tell from this list, is something we consider to be an important factor.

The club was formed in 1886 by a group of people who worked at the Royal Arsenal Factory in Woolwich, producing weapons and so forth for the country.

With that in mind, ‘Gunners' is a clear tribute to that very factory, and although the side did not stay loyal to the location, they have kept its name with them throughout their history.

A canon at the epicentre of their crest has been almost ever-present during that time and it further enriches the connection between the two.

Also, and perhaps a tad more subjectively, ‘The Gunners' also sounds incredible too.

1. The Seadogs (Scarborough Athletic)

Scarborough Athletic football team nickname
And the best English football team nickname award goes too… Scarborough Athletic. Photo by Yorkshire Post

Yes, that's right Arsenal and Manchester United, you have been beaten by National League outfit Scarborough Athletic and their nickname of ‘The Seadogs', which just sounds amazing.

Although the exact story behind its origin is unknown, the term is an obvious celebration of the club's location, with an extremely close proximity to the sea.

For some reason, the phrase ‘Seadogs' conjures up a sense of hard work, determination and a never-say-die attitude – all of which are crucial for a side to prevail against the challenges of non-league football.

Scarborough Athletic appear to have all three in abundance, having remarkably overcome administration in 2006 and as a result, the nickname ‘Seadogs' just feels as though it perfectly embodies the ethos of the club, more so than any other, and is therefore deserving of being the best football team nickname in England.


Harry Dowsett

Freelance football writer with experience writing for multiple digital platforms, such as GIVEMESPORT. Recently graduated from Portsmouth University with a media studies degree - completing a dissertation on the evolution of sports journalism in the process. He has a love for Arsenal Football Club and a passion for football as a whole.

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