Biscuitmen, Candy Stripes and Jam – a brief history of club nicknames

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We all know our local league football club as Reading FC, the Royals. However, it wasn’t always that way. In the early days of football Reading were known by the quaint term Biscuitmen. They were known by this moniker due to the large Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory.

Disappointingly for those of us with a love of great football nicknames, this was dropped in favour of Royals during the 1980s. It’s perhaps obvious to understand why they dropped Biscuitmen when it’s so easy to write headlines about biscuits crumbling or breaking.

Reading aren’t the only club in the UK to have a nickname related to confectionery. Everton are famously known as “The Toffees” or “Toffeemen”. The nickname originated from the days when a woman would walk around the pitch before the match throwing toffees into the crowd for spectators. A practice that still takes place today.

Candy Stripes

In Northern Ireland, Derry City take the “Candy Stripes” moniker due to their distinctive red and white striped kit. They took inspiration from Sheffield United for their red and white stripes after Billy Gillespie (a native of Donegal) played for the Blades for 20 years in the early part of the 20th century.

In Scotland it’s the Edinburgh club Heart of Midlothian who have a link to confectionary. They are known by the nickname “Jam Tarts” (to rhyme with Hearts). The nickname was apparently coined by returning Scottish soldiers who had learned rhyming slang from Cockney soldiers in the trenches of World War I battlefields.

Jam

The link with jam doesn’t start and end with Hearts as Millwall Football Club was originally formed by workers of a jam factory. However, this jam connection did not form into a nickname and Millwall are known as the more fearsome “Lions” nickname these days and there appears to be no firm link to Lion bars.

If all that talk about chocolate and sweets has made you peckish, we have a fully stocked tea bar open before the match and at half-time where hot food, chocolate bars and drinks will be available.

This article was first published in ‘Robins Review’, the matchday programme of Bracknell Town Football Club.

Photo credit: getreading.co.uk

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