Football clubs never used to have badges on the front of their shirts, let alone sponsors. Now, the very DNA of an institution is woven into the fabric of your team (we’re talking about the crest here, not the generic betting company logo on the front of the top).
As with everything else in football, different sides went in different directions. Some opted for their city’s coat of arms or something vaguely similar, while others went for a circle with one distinctive symbol in the centre. Others have gone wildcard – including initials, birds, former players, hats, lions, weapons or a mixture of the lot.
Each of the 92 has something rather distinctive if nothing else. So let’s rattle through the good, the bad and the ugly of the Premier League and Football League…
92. Burton Albion
Burton-on-Trent is known for its beer industry – but did the football club have to incorporate that quite so literally into their badge? Oh well, at least the big fella should be hard to shrug off the ball.
91. Hull City
If you’ve never come across the book Crap Taxidermy (opens in new tab), go and look it up – because that’s where Hull’s badge belongs (and that’s before we got onto the fur pattern that’s more leopard than tiger).
You’d think one of the basics of designing a badge would be to align it so people can read the letters without having to crook their neck at a muscle-straining angle, wouldn’t you? Fulham apparently didn’t think that.
89. Cheltenham Town
What do you see: a heavily stylised robin? Or a giant red fish about to gobble up a considerably smaller red fish? Cheltenham’s badge is supposed to depict the former, but we prefer the alternative interpretation.
88. MK Dons
OK, so it’s hard for your badge to ooze tradition when you were only founded 18 years ago, but could MK Dons not have come up with something better than a cheap bottle opener?
It’s the Hertfordshire hart, but the focal point of Stevenage’s badge could just as easily be a giraffe wearing a pair of novelty antlers. And is this not basically Brentford’s crest rehashed?
86. Sheffield Wednesday
Why is the owl fluttering its eyelashes? And why are its eyes at a 90-degree angle in the first place? And why are they shaped like a human’s eyes?! It’s a right hoot is Sheffield Wednesday’s badge.
85. Birmingham City
It’s a unique badge – we’ll give Birmingham that – but did anyone bother to double-check the design against a map of the world? Don’t use this one for your geography homework, kids.
84. Lincoln City
“Aaagh, my shin!” Unfortunately for fans of visual comedy, that’s not a tricky winger hobbling in agony after being cynically scythed down; it’s the famous Lincoln Imp grotesque from the city’s cathedral.
83. West Ham United
Did you know that the shape of West Ham’s badge is based on the bow of HMS Warrior, one of the first two armour-plated, iron-hulled warships ever built? Us neither – but yeah, don’t go calling it a shield.
82. Northampton Town
By all means celebrate your 125th anniversary, Northampton, but did you consider that dipping your badge in gold would make it look like some kind of special edition chocolate coin?
81. Cardiff City
It’s no surprise Cardiff’s badge features a dragon – but you’ll notice that’s no Welsh dragon; it’s an oriental one, as per the wishes of owner Vincent Tan (who previously sparked outrage by changing the club’s colours from blue to red (opens in new tab)).
80. Bristol City
That’s meant to be a robin – but look closely and it resembles one of those fortune-telling fish impaled on a rod. And what’s with underlining the first half of the club’s foundation year? Is there a 1994 Bristol City?
One of the newer members of the roundel rabble, Brentford swapped two bees and a beehive for one monstrous bee and… the bee helmet from the Nic Cage remake of ‘The Wicker Man’? A bit gruesome.
78. Colchester United
Colchester was the first capital of Roman Britain, so it makes perfect sense that the U’s’ crest bears the aquila symbol; it’s just a shame the eagle resembles a hastily cobbled together mosaic.
Either Millwall’s leaping lion is thoroughly up for a scrap – or it wants to give you a great big hug and just has a funny way of showing it. Can anyone really say for sure?
Oh, look, another identikit circular badge with an animal on it. Use your imagination and it could be a giant swift blocking a solar eclipse – but we wish more clubs would use their own imagination in the first place.
75. Crawley Town
A diamond expelling fighter jets, another badge within the badge and – hold up – is that Man United mascot Fred the Red? There’s just too much going on here; time to simplify, Crawley!
74. Wycombe Wanderers
Buckinghamshire’s county emblem has a somewhat confusing history, but Wycombe seemingly didn’t get the memo on one key detail: the swan is supposed to be in the chains, not the other way round…
73. Stoke City
The fonts on the club’s name and foundation date are quite cool, but there’s really nothing spectacular about Stoke’s current badge – a stark contrast to their previous crests, all of which featured local symbology prominently.
72. Newport County
Reformed after going out of business, Newport are the only club in the 92 whose badge displays two foundation dates. As for that shield, do the South Wales outfit have a little-known jousting department…?
71. Hartlepool United
In ditching their old badge – a bright red ship’s wheel centred on a football – Hartlepool have managed to depict the scene where Harry Potter’s Patronus fends off a swarm of Dementors. Different.