Having soccer teams call themselves place name United seems to be popular in America. I assume this is because of the famous soccer club Manchester United, but where did they get their name? Did two opposing forces join to form the club or were they trying to imply that the whole city is behind them? Wikipedia offers a date for the name but no reason.
It wasn’t a combination of teams or at least that’s not what prompted the name change. The ‘United’ suffix had become popular among football clubs prior to Man U. Newcastle United (formed in 1892 from the merger of two clubs) is one example of that. The name Manchester City had already been taken prior to 1902, so the team needed a new name and Newton Heath was no longer though to be relevant to the club, so when a group of investors got together to save Man U from bankruptcy, they picked a name that they thought sounded cool so Manchester United it was. Basically Man U has its name for the same reason that DC United has its name. Someone thought it sounded cool. Originally, the ‘United’ name did come from club mergers, but Man U wasn’t one of those clubs.
Well it certainly isn’t the latter. Most major UK cities have two fairly equally balanced rival teams, sometimes founded on loosely religious lines, perhaps because some of them were set up by Catholic or Protestant youth clubs (but by no means always).
So we have…
Manchester City and United
Sheffield Wednesday and United
Bristol City and Bristol Rovers
Liverpool and Everton (ok, that one doesn’t work)
There’s lots more examples.
I think the real answer is that ‘united’ clubs often came from a merger of smaller teams into one, and needed an appellage to their town name if that was already taken by a rival. But not always.
It’s also worth noting that Manchester United are not the first ‘united’ - they only took on that name in 1902, changing from ‘Newton Heath’, when they played in green and gold. Sheffield United hold the honour of being the oldest ‘united’, and even they were a splinter from the Sheffield United Cricket Club - this actually WAS a uniting of different cricket clubs in the 1850s.
So, you can thank cricket.
I actually was going to mention that and forgot. The first United was indeed Sheffield United Cricket Club which as you said was a uniting of clubs. By 1902, United was just a thing. West Ham United was another one around that time that wasn’t a real ‘union’ but just liked the name.
I’ve always thought the earliest clubs (the ones that still survive) have the coolest names
Loads more imaginative!
For those who don’t know, Sheffield Wednesday was originally formed as a cricket club around 1820, for a group of workers who had Wednesdays off. Forty-odd years later they decided to start a football offshoot to give them a game to play in the winter.
Some of the Scottish clubs have positively lyrical names:
Heart of Midlothian
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Queen of the South
Don’t forget the ultimate amateurs: Corinthian Casuals.
And try practising the result announcers dread: East Fife 4, Forfar 5
Deeply evocative, aren’t they?
I mean, in my case they’re evocative of Saturday afternoons waiting for Doctor Who to come on, but evocative none the less.
…the irony being that Inverness Caledonian Thistle is actually an example of a united, being formed by the merger of two clubs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverness_Caledonian_Thistle_F.C.
- though if I remember correctly, at least at the time of the merger it was not a very popular affair, and the fans were not particularly united.
My first FC on the PC game One-nil. Until I googled today I was never able to find any info about them at all but I am still in love with the Name and have never forgotten it.
So it was man u factured.