14 amazing football club badges we wish still existed... and 10 that are truly awful
14. Arsenal (1998-2001)
Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, or memories of Dennis Bergkamp, but this may be the definitive Arsenal crest. The design is busy, no doubt, but that imperfection adds charm, the masses of detail making it feel less sanitised than today’s incarnation.
In the club’s defence, while they did introduce the latest Arsenal crest in 2002 as part of their Highbury-to-Emirates overhaul, a redesign was necessary: they’d tinkered with the previous design so much over the years that they couldn’t copyright it.
Our chosen favourite (1998-2001) was one of five almost identical badges used between 1990 and 2002, and gets our vote only because its creators didn’t feel it was necessary to add ‘The Gunners’ above a picture of a gun.
The new crest has a purpose. This ’90s design, however, has Gothic script, heraldic ermine resembling snow, and most importantly of all, it doesn’t look like a bloody cartoon.
13. Blackpool (1979-1987)
Perhaps appropriately for a club with such diverse nicknames as the Seasiders and the Tangerines, Blackpool have had numerous badges during their history, though sadly neither seasides nor tangerines have featured on any of them. The team’s shirts have been adorned by coats of arms, monograms, no badge at all and, confusingly, a seagull inside a red rose. Pantomime boos at the ready: that one was brought in by Owen Oyston, father of current owner Karl Oyston.
Strangest of all was the… thing that was chosen to represent Blackpool from 1979 to 1987 (and we don’t mean Alan Ball). If you correctly surmised that it depicts Blackpool Tower standing proudly above the waves, you’re brilliant, lying or mad. It looks like Nottingham Forest’s logo crossbred with an arrow to form a poster in an inner-city gym that’s pleading with you to recycle.
Yet we say this image should be part of the club today. It’s confusing, vague and has nothing behind it – what other logo could better represent the current situation at Blackpool FC?
12. Bury (1974-1982)
Bury are one of many Football League clubs to go with a traditional coat of arms. And why not? Because this early version is brilliant, that’s why not.
Despite the red rose, there’s something very Russian about this design – probably the shape and font. You have to applaud the quest for innovation: after seven years with no badge at all adorning their shirts, Bury knocked up a random star for one season and then replaced it with this effort.
11. Wolves (1970-1974)
Here at FFT we love the Wolves crest of today: eye-catching and minimalist yet nonetheless intimidating, if not as downright menacing as it was in the 1980s. Even so, there’s a lingering fondness in this office for the design used in the early ’70s, despite it being very… ‘of its time’, let’s say.
It’s the stylised WW initials that deserved to become iconic, stacked to create a diamond motif that could’ve improved some of the club’s kits over the next few decades. An airborne wolf added dynamism.
Sadly, Wolves chose to turn one crest into two, worn side-by-side on the shirt, and for the second half of the 1970s their lone leaping wolf was replaced by three of the buggers, which, despite George Berry’s best efforts, turned a sleek football club crest into a naff county cricket badge.
10. Chelsea (1905-1952)
Picture the scene. Chelsea have won the 2012 Champions League Final at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena following a dramatic penalty shootout. They’ve won the competition for the first time, becoming London’s first champions of Europe.
Despite missing the final, captain John Terry steps onto the podium in full kit, shin pads and all, to lead his team-mates in lifting the trophy. And in this grandiose scene, set to fireworks, confetti and bombastic operatics, the Chelsea shirt he is wearing boasts over Terry’s heart a simple club crest. This crest. The crest of European champions.
9. Cambridge United (1974-75, 1975-77)
Forgive us for repeating what you already know, but there just aren’t enough books on football club crests. Kudos to 1970s-era Cambridge United, then, for embracing the city’s university links and sticking a bloody great encyclopaedia on their club emblem, even if it was hollowed out to make space for a ball. Tch, students.
Such bookishness didn’t catch on, however: the crest was rejigged after one year and replaced after three, despite it coinciding with Ron Atkinson – in his first season of Football League management – guiding The U’s to the Fourth Division title in 1977. He’d later take Brendon Batson, Cambridge’s buccaneering, pioneering skipper, with him to West Brom.
8. Aldershot Town (1992-2004)
Aldershot Town were formed out of the ashes of Aldershot FC in 1992, before phoenix clubs became de rigueur, so it was only right and proper that their emblem focuses on the mythical bird rising from the flames.
This badge was reimagined in 2004 when the club turned fully pro, its brash colouring replaced by a muted yet ornate style. We find the original more arresting, though, however cartoonish. It’s good to see the club’s nickname on there, anyway, and not just because it opens the door for a ‘Shots fired’ pun.