What’s in a club name – from Guildford City to Reading City and everything in between

Reading's Forbury Gardens and Dave Wright. Photo: Get Reading.
Reading's Forbury Gardens and Dave Wright. Photo: Get Reading.

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In the last fortnight we’ve had a new name on the Hellenic League football map as Highmoor Ibis changed their name to Reading City FC.

The club will continue to play in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division and have released new logos which we think look pretty smart.

A lot of questions on social media though have been around the fact that Reading isn’t actually a city despite several bids to become one – the last in 2012 (more on that below).

In an attempt to answer that, we know that the club themselves see it as ‘aspirational’ and something to work towards but Football in Bracknell wanted to ask..

What’s in a club name?

The obvious place to visit first on our club name knowledge trip is Guildford City. why you ask? Well the county town of Surrey, like Reading isn’t a city either despite it’s towering Cathedral completed in 1961.

Club chairman Barry Underwood explains: “This is an interesting one. Way back in 1921 the club was formed as Guildford United, but within a few years in 1927 changed its name to Guildford City. This was because the town became a diocese and work on the cathedral commenced.

“It was assumed that a diocese and a cathedral would mean that Guildford would become a city. History shows that this didn’t happen but many people still believe that if you have a cathedral and university you are a city. Interestingly the football club wasn’t alone and the local boxing and swimming clubs are also called Guildford City.

“As for the wider question of whether it has helped us a club?  I think to a degree yes. The name suggests we are a bigger club than we are and we do get players from overseas applying to join us on full-time contracts.  I think it helps us a bit with marketing, and I think truthfully myself I feel quite proud representing a club with City in the title.”

You can find out a bit more about Guildford City FC’s history here, and the Catherdral website is here.

‘The right name can also give credence when talking to local councils, businesses and seeking funding from grants’

There have been a few other name changes locally in recent years but these were mostly brought about by mergers.

Woodley United’s club secretary and Bracknell Football Award nominee Mark Rozzier said of his clubs changes: “Woodley’s was not so much name change but a merger of three clubs with the Woodley United name being retained, which was that being used by the town’s ladies football club.  However, I will say that the “right” name can give a club gravitas in the community if the name can be identified with the community.  However, the club still has to work hard promoting itself!

“In addition the “right” name can also give credence when talking to local councils, businesses and seeking funding from grants.”

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

Eversley & California chairman Ross Allston said: “Ours was [also[ not so much a name change but a merger of two clubs. Eversley FC adult football and California boys and girls football.

“The challenge is have two identities making it one and the advantage is a complete player pathway from soccer school to senior open age football for all types of footballers.”

Reading’s city status bids

Reading, Berkshire has made three bids to become a city – ultimately failing on each occasion.

Despite popular knowledge being that to become a city you have to have a cathedral, you can see from Guildford’s attempt earlier in our article that it isn’t a given.

In 2012 the Queen gave city status to three locations – Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph, the latter a 3,355 population ‘city’ in North Wales.

Reading had been the bookies favourite to be given city status at the time as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations but was ultimately overlooked.

According to the BBC, in 2000, Reading lost out to Brighton and Hove, Wolverhampton and Inverness in city status bids and in 2002 to Preston and Newport.

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Main image: Forbury Gardens in Reading by Get Reading.

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