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Not a “Town” in sight

Can there be any better football club names than Heart of Midlothian and Queen of the South?

Nineteen of the forty-two clubs in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) have no suffix to their name, although some readers might challenge Morton being included in such a list. For most of their existence the club was known as Morton, although Greenock Morton was always its official title. Then presumably in an effort to bring the town’s name to a wider audience, the club was listed as “Greenock Morton” for a number of seasons. Plain old Morton, a name taken from the Greenock street in which they were founded, thankfully seems to be back in vogue hence its inclusion in the nineteen:

Aberdeen Airdrieonians Arbroath Celtic Clyde Cowdenbeath Dumbarton Dundee Falkirk Hibernian Kilmarnock Livingston Montrose Morton Motherwell Peterhead Rangers Stenhousemuir Stranraer

ACADEMICAL – Hamilton Against all the odds, but with a successful and long-standing commitment to youth development, the Accies continue to compete in Scotland’s top division. Their relatively small travelling support means some Premiership clubs would be glad to see the back of them but with their distinctive suffix there is something reassuringly old fashioned about the Lanarkshire club's clear connection to its scholastic roots.

ALBION – Stirling By some distance the poorest performing club from any of Scotland’s seven cities, albeit its smallest, Stirling Albion have a very neat ground near the Forth and arguably the best club badge is Scottish football. The Albion suffix is often linked to club founder Tom Fergusson's coal trucks, a myth based on the fact that Fergusson’s Albion coal lorries were initially used as grandstands in 1945. What a shame it’s not true. Albion, an alternative name for Great Britain of course, was deemed a highly appropriate choice by the club’s founder – a view widely and understandably shared in immediate post-war 1945.

ATHLETIC - Alloa, Annan, Dunfermline and Forfar The most popular suffix in the SPFL – for obvious reasons.

CITY – Brechin, Edinburgh, Elgin Brechin used to be Scotland’s only “City” but in 2000 they were joined by Elgin, who were awarded one of two extra places in the then expanded SPL. A third “City” was gained when Edinburgh achieved SPFL status via the 2016 play-offs. Only the last-named club is based in one of the Scotland’s seven cities, as defined by the Scottish government, but this interpretation is disputed by many experts on the subject and the tiny catherdral cities of Brechin and Elgin are not thinking of dropping their claim to elevated status any time soon.

COUNTY – Ross Probably the most remarkable of all of Scotland’s forty-two clubs. A Premiership club again after just one season in Tier Two – "how is that possible?" is the cry from Tannadice - County are based in the town of Dingwall, which has a population of just over 6,000. The club clearly attracts support from the rest of Ross-shire but even including Dingwall that only numbers 50,000 – and County took over 20,000 to the 2010 Scottish Cup Final in Glasgow. Simply fantastic...and the conclusion is obvious – the further from Glasgow’s gruesome twosome, the more support is given to the local team.

UNITED – Ayr and Dundee If it hadn’t been for the first (and so far only) amalgamation of two Scottish League clubs, Ayr FC and Ayr Parkhouse FC in 1910, there would have been no Ayr United and no League vacancy for the newly formed Dundee Hibernian to apply for. Adding to the two United’s connections, if it hadn’t been for Dundee FC’s perplexing objection in 1923 to the proposal that Dundee Hibernian became Dundee City then Ayr United would have remained Scotland’s only United.

ROVERS – Albion and Raith Strictly speaking Raith are the only club in Scotland with a Rovers suffix as the “Rovers” in Albion Rovers is the name of one of two Coatbridge clubs, Albion FC and Rovers FC, which merged in 1882.

RANGERS - Cove According to the SPFL website, there are two clubs with the suffix “Rangers” – Cove and Berwick. Perhaps someone should tell this supposedly “Professional” league that Cove Rangers replaced Berwick Rangers following two play-off matches between them played in May 2019 under the auspices of …the SPFL!

THISTLE – Partick For some of us there will only ever be one Thistle…and never Partick, always Thistle. They are also known as the Jags, the Maryhill Magyars and the Harry Wraggs and it seems entirely in keeping with the image of this truly great Glasgow institution that they have more nicknames (4) than major honours (2).

Inverness Caledonian Thistle are not regarded as having a “Thistle” suffix for the same merger reason as Albion Rovers. The amalgamation of Caledonian FC and Inverness Thistle. gave Scottish football Caledonian Thistle in 1994. Two years later, Inverness District Council asked that ‘Inverness’ be added to the club’s name. It was a reasonable request but the result is not the snappiest of titles and these days most people outside the city refer to the club as “Inverness”. Could ICT eventually join the nineteen clubs with no suffix?

THE REST Those of you still keeping count will have calculated there are six clubs not accounted for. Scotland’s oldest club, Queen’s Park, is named after the district of Glasgow which bears that name and East Fife, the first tier two side to win the Scottish Cup, is named after the part of Fife containing a number of small and very different separate communities.

These two clubs share a successful past which carries through to this day. Queen’s Park, along with Hibs, have each won ten major honours and only Rangers, Celtic, Hearts and the Dons have fared better than the Spiders. East Fife have won the Scottish Cup once and have captured the League Cup on three occasions so in terms of major honours won they are, to my surprise, Fife’s most successful club.

St Johnstone and St Mirren share a prefix and also a "Saints" nickname but neither is often referred to as Saint Mirren or Saint Johnstone. In the case of the Perth club that is quite right because there never was a person called Johnstone who achieved sainthood, no matter how highly some Celtic supporters rated wee "Jinky". St. Johnstone is of course a reference to Perth, or St. John’s toun.

Which leaves us with the two finest club names in Scottish football. Can there be any better football club names anywhere than Heart of Midlothian and Queen of the South? Let’s hope the councils of Edinburgh and Dumfries never request a prefix!

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