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Taken from Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase & Fable

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

The nickname of Charlton Athletic FC. The word almost certainly dates from the earliest years of the club’s existence when local fishmonger, and later club vice-president, Arthur Bryan used to provide post-victory suppers of haddock and chips for the players. Allegedly, Bryan would serve the less popular cod in the event of a defeat. The team was soon dubbed ‘the Haddocks’, which subsequently became corrupted to ‘the Addicks’. The club has preferred ‘Robins’ and ‘Valiants’ at times in the past but now officially endorses the fishy sobriquet.

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery
A 1939 detective film directed by Thorold Dickinson (1903–84), in which an opposition player dies by poisoning during a match at Highbury stadium and Scotland Yard is called in to investigate. Several Arsenal players of the time appeared in the film, which was one of the earliest to exploit the British love of football, and one of the very few such productions to have been critically acclaimed, despite its low budget.
It’s a slight, B-movie murder mystery, more of a ‘quota quickie’, so it’s not really fair to compare it to the English Hitchcocks. But it’s a lot of fun … Dickinson strikes me as a very confident director here, willing to play with the material, to have fun with it.
Martin Scorsese, interviewed in Sight & Sound  (November 2003)

A laconic bawdy ditty chanted by some supporters of Chelsea FC. Its popularity led a small minority to begin throwing sticks of celery onto the pitch during games; the club clamped down hard on the practice.
Chelsea have banned celery from Stamford Bridge and ordered fans to stop throwing it during matches after the Football Association launched an investigation into instances of salad tossing at their recent matches.
The Guardian (16 March 2007)
A reader adds: The chant first started at Gillingham, season of 1995–6, because celery’s low calorific value is well-known, and at that time they had the heaviest goalkeeper in the league, a man by the name of Jim Stannard. The joke, however, was on the fans: Stannard let in just 20 goals all season, kept 29 clean sheets, and the club won promotion. [Thanks to James McLaren]

click to enlarge

Craven Cottage
Originally a cottage orné built in 1780 on the west side of the Fulham peninsula as a country retreat for for William Craven, 6th Baron Craven (1738–91). The cottage burned down in 1888 and Fulham FC established a permanent home on its site in 1896, 17 years after the club’s foundation. In recent times plans for the club to radically rebuild the stadium, or possibly to move elsewhere, have come to nothing and Craven Cottage is likely to remain in roughly its present form for the foreseeable future.
From 1980 until 1984 Craven Cottage was also home to Fulham Rugby League Club. Fulham RLFC played at other London stadia from 1984, eventually mutating into Harlequins Rugby League.

The present-day nickname of Crystal Palace FC, promulgated in the mid-1970s following the introduction of a new crest that relegated the formerly dominant image of the glass exhibition hall to secondary, stylized status and added a red and white football surmounted by a blue eagle – later redrawn to look more eagle-like. The redesign was said to have been influenced by the emblem of the Portuguese club Benfica, which is also nicknamed the Eagles (as águias) and uses the bird as a symbol of ‘independence, authority and nobility’. Crystal Palace had formerly been known as the Glaziers.

Fever Pitch
A popular sociological study (1992) by Nick Hornby (b.1957), subtitled ‘A Story of Football and Obsession’. It charts the author’s personal relationship with the game as a fan (from the age of 10) of Arsenal FC. The title has obvious punning connotations. A film version (1996), directed by David Evans and starring Colin Firth, presented the original as a romantic comedy. An Americanized version (2005) concerned actor Ben Fallon’s character’s obsession with the Boston Red Sox.

no one likes us, we don’t care
The unofficial motto of Millwall FC, much chanted by the club’s fans to the approximate tune of ‘Sailing’ (Gavin Sutherland, 1972). Also the title of a book by Garry Robson, subtitled ‘The Myth and Reality of Millwall Fandom’ (2000). For much of the late 20th century, sections of the media portrayed Millwall supporters as football’s worst hooligans, sometimes labelling them as white, working-class racists. The chant reflects the fans’ attitude to being thus stigmatized.
No one likes us, no one likes us,
No one likes us, we don’t care.
We are Millwall, super Millwall,
We are Millwall, from the Den.

White Horse Final

Views of Wembley stadium
Wembley Stadium today

In footballing history, a nickname for the FA Cup Final of 28 April 1923 between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United at Wembley. Thousands of fans spilled on to the pitch before the start of the game, and it required mounted police, and in particular Constable George Scorey on his 13-year-old white horse, Billy, to clear it before the match could begin. Although Scorey was only one of several mounted policemen on duty that day, his conspicuous white horse gave the name by which the final has always been referred to since. Bolton won the match 2–0.

Yid or Yiddo
In most contexts this is a derogatory term for a Jew. However, to many supporters of Tottenham Hotspur FC it is a badge of honour. It derives from the club’s traditional popularity among north London’s Jewish community. Although originally used disparagingly by some supporters of opposing teams, the term was taken up from the 1960s or 70s by home fans, who nowadays – whether Jewish or not – often refer to themselves as the ‘Yid army’. The club has voiced concern about the phenomenon but, as one Jewish supporter has argued on a fans’ message board: ‘The more the word “Yid” is used in the context of the mighty Spurs then the less power it has as an insult.’

A small selection from the football-related entries in Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase & Fable (excluding images and the map and table below), published September 2009.

London’s top football clubs in 2010–11  – mapped and then listed alphabetically within divisions

London football clubs in 2009-10







Emirates Stadium


Stamford Bridge


Craven Cottage
Tottenham Hotspur


White Hart Lane

West Ham United



Boleyn Ground, Upton Park

Crystal Palace



Selhurst Park


New Den Stadium

Queen’s Park Rangers



Loftus Road

League One


Griffin Park

Charlton Athletic
League One


The Valley
Dagenham & Redbridge
League One


Victoria Road

Leyton Orient

League One


Matchroom Stadium, Brisbane Rd

League Two
Underhill Stadium
Hayes and Yeading United
Church Road
AFC Wimbledon


Fans’ Stadium, Kingsmeadow

Conference South
Courage Stadium, Hayes Lane

Hampton & Richmond Borough

Conference South


Beveree Stadium

Welling United

Conference South


Park View Road

One level below the Conference (Blue Square) South clubs in the 2010–11 season are Carshalton Athletic, Cray Wanderers, Harrow Borough, Hendon, AFC Hornchurch, Kingstonian, Sutton United, Tooting & Mitcham United and Wealdstone, all playing in the Isthmian (Ryman) League Premier Division.
See also this beautiful Football Supporter Map of London, posted on a QPR supporters' message board and shown in miniature below. Some of the guesswork may be questionable but the cartography is lovely and its creator says it’s work in progress – although at the time of writing it hasn't been updated since April 2010.

click to view the full-size map

Text and selected images are reproduced with the permission of Chambers but may differ from the published versions
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